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North Central Planned Parenthood workers file for union election

On May 26, workers with North Central States Planned Parenthood announced that they have formally filed for election to unionize with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for healthcare workers.

Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood on Monday, June 6, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — North Central States Planned Parenthood workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board on May 26, 2022, for election to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa.

This came after the Planned Parenthood North Central States executive team decided against voluntarily recognizing the unionization of its workers, according to Jon Lutz, a health educator with Planned Parenthood in St. Paul.

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“When we filed, we already had the majority of our colleagues in our five state area agree that they wanted to unionize and now all we have to do is prove it,” Lutz said.

Lutz has been teaching sex education since 2013 and decided to work with Planned Parenthood in 2018, even though it meant taking a pay cut.

“I wanted to be a part of the organization that was doing the best sex ed in Minnesota. I wanted to learn from colleagues I’ve met in the sex education community who I really respected,” Lutz said.

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According to Lutz, he saw these colleagues who loved the work at Planned Parenthood having to leave because of financial reasons or work multiple jobs. With patient demand for care through Planned Parenthood high, Lutz said he started hearing about people having to take double shifts or skip breaks because of short staffing.

“I want this great job to continue to be a great job, and that's why for me, it's so important to to get unionized,” Lutz said.

On May 2, news broke of the Supreme Court drafting an opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade.

If the ruling is overturned, Minnesota Planned Parenthood locations would likely see an upswing in the number of people coming in from out of state, as North Dakota and South Dakota have trigger laws that would outlaw abortion almost immediately while Wisconsin and Iowa are at-risk states.

“Every day, my coworkers and I provide the safe, quality reproductive care that our communities need and deserve. As everyone is aware, our right to provide this care is constantly under attack,” Sadie Brewer, a registered nurse working at Planned Parenthood’s Vandalia Street Clinic in St. Paul, said in a news conference on May 26. “What we need most at this critical time is as much protection as we can get – and a union will give us just that.”

According to Lutz, he has noticed his students seem worried from about the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“Something I would want any teenager I talk to to know is that abortion remains safe and legal, and even when Roe v. Wade falls, as it seemingly will, it will remain safe and legal in Minnesota,” Lutz said. “We at Planned Parenthood are ready to help. We are not going anywhere.”

The NLRB is in the process of scheduling when the election will be, according to Lutz. What will happen at the election is employees will either vote in favor of or against unionizing, and the majority vote plus one will decide what occurs.

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“I’m extremely proud of the organizing work that my colleagues have done across five states (and) hundreds of employees during a pandemic,” Lutz said. “We started with a majority and are building towards a super majority. We are going to win this election.”

Related Topics: UNIONSNONPROFITS
Bella Carpentier is a journalism and political science student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She is currently the managing editor of the student-run paper at UMN-TC, the Minnesota Daily. While reporting for the Minnesota Daily, she covered student activism and issues affecting the university's student body. Working for the Post Bulletin, Bella hopes to build community connections and advance her reporting skills. Readers can reach Bella at bcarpentier@postbulletin.com.
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