Planned Parenthood workers in 5 states unionize
Minneapolis, MN – On July 21, 435 Planned Parenthood workers from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska joined the Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa (SEIU HCMN&IA) in a resounding 90.1% yes vote. 238 workers voted to join the union, and only 26 voted not to.
The Planned Parenthood workers began working with organizers at SEIU HCMN&IA in early summer of 2021. Over the next year they built an organizing committee among their coworkers with workers from all five states represented on the committee and wide representation from the 28 locations involved.
In May of 2022 they felt they finally had a strong enough organizing committee to move forward and began talking to coworkers and having them sign union cards committing to join the union. They quickly got over 30% of their coworkers signed up in under a week. Things were moving quickly, and then in early May the Supreme Court leaked that it was about to overturn Roe versus Wade which rocked the abortion rights world.
At the same time as their lives were in chaos from the leak, the organizing committee held a long late-night meeting and decided that now more than ever they needed to go forward with their push to unionize. Coming out of that meeting they went on to get a majority of their coworkers signed up on union cards which they filed with the NLRB to trigger a union election after requesting voluntary recognition of their union from Planned Parenthood.
Despite a majority having already signed cards committing their support for forming a union, Planned Parenthood refused to voluntarily recognize, so the workers went forward to an election held by the NLRB to get their union legally recognized. That process resulted in an election by mail which began on June 27 with ballots due back to the NLRB by July 19.
During the election the lives of Planned Parenthood workers were once again rocked when the Supreme Court did in fact overturn Roe v. Wade. But the workers pushed forward and when the ballots were counted on July 21, the workers got their union recognized through their 90.1% yes vote.
Mimi Arabalo is a bilingual health educator for Planned Parenthood in the Omaha area and had the following to say, “In my time here I have seen my incredible frontline colleagues go above and beyond for our patients and community, often at the cost of themselves. We have served our roles without breaks, without pay equity, and without a seat at the table to have a say in our own working conditions.”
Arabalo continued, “Today’s election results show that we have had enough. We still stand with our patients and our communities, but we cannot stand with Planned Parenthood without standing up for ourselves. There is no Planned Parenthood without us. We can’t care for our communities if we aren’t being cared for, and forming this union is a way for us to have some accountability for that care.”
Now that they have formed their union, the workers will move forward into bargaining their first union contract as members of SEIU HCMN&IA.