(Madison, Wis.) – On August 22nd, physicians, dentists and registered nurses at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital chose the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) as their union, making clear that these professionals no longer wanted to be “at will” employees.
“We are proud to welcome these employees into the Local Union,” said Ian Smith president of AFGE Local 1732, which represents workers at the VA facility in Madison, Wis. “These employees have made a clear choice for union representation. Together we will work hard to ensure quality workplace conditions and veterans care.”
AFGE has been at the forefront of veterans’ advocacy by tackling the challenges VA healthcare professionals face in the workplace. AFGE has successfully lobbied against devastating VA outsourcing, excessive mandatory overtime, and chronic budget and staffing cuts.
While, current law (38 USC 7422) provides physicians, RNs and other health care professionals in the VA with rights to grieve, arbitrate and bargain, management has greatly weakened these rights through overbroad interpretations of the limited exceptions in the law. As a result, VA healthcare professionals have been stifled in their ability to voice concerns over staffing ratios, assignments, excessive mandatory overtime and other key issues that impact employee morale and patient safety.
As members of AFGE, Madison VAMC employees now have representation that is hard at work on the legislative and legal fronts addressing problems in collective bargaining, chronic under-funding and understaffing at VA medical facilities, as well as, problems implementing recent nurse and physician pay legislation, reimbursement of physician medical education costs and nurse promotions.
“AFGE is the VA employee union and we will continue to succeed in protecting the rights of VA employees,” said Local President Smith.
AFGE represents more than 156,000 VA employees, professional and non-professional in over 130 VAMCs, 57 regional offices, and other VA workplaces.