MINNEAPOLIS – Late Monday night, Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS) and the union member bargaining team for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa reached a tentative agreement (TA) on a historic first contract for the 430 workers who voted in 2022 to form their union. Monday was the 37th bargaining session between the two sides and the final session lasted nearly 14 hours, ending at 1am.
The contract covers workers who do jobs such as reproductive healthcare, comprehensive sexual health education, political advocacy and so many more invaluable roles helping people across the Midwest access safe abortions and other essential health services.
Shay Gingras (MPH), a senior research coordinator for five years at PPNCS and member of the SEIU HCMNIA bargaining team member from the beginning of the process, shared her reaction to the deal:
"I'm so excited that we reached a tentative agreement for our first union contract. Through my time at PPNCS – across multiple jobs – I have seen the challenges workers face every day. The critical work that we do has become even more politicized and under attack in recent years, and people are facing even greater challenges to access abortion care. We've lost too many amazing staff members because of issues we have been facing inside and outside of the organization, so I am happy we won protections and other gains to recognize our important work supporting our patients. As an original bargaining team member, I'm so proud of our team who have fought so hard for so long to win these gains. This has been a really long and difficult process and our fight will continue, but I'm really proud of what we were able to win in this first contract. I'm thankful we have our union and the power that comes with it, and I look forward to continuing this fight for worker and abortion rights."
The details of the TA are being shared with members, but highlights for a first contract include:
- 15-year wage scale for all union jobs with a guaranteed minimum wage increase of 4.5% in the first year, 11.75% total over three years, and with the lowest-paid employees receiving a 17% wage increase in the first year of the agreement.
- Improvements in healthcare affordability for all members, and greater improvements for members with children and families
- Robust language around harassment, equity and racial justice - including a labor-management committee to facilitate ongoing dialogue for the duration of the contract
- Grievance and arbitration procedure as well as language for progressive discipline (and just cause for terminations)
James Willging (he/they), a Senior Community Organizer at PPNCS for over two years and member of SEIU HCMNIA bargaining team, spoke out about the agreement:
"I've worked in Patient Services and Public Affairs since joining Planned Parenthood, and have seen the amazing work our staff do every day at PPNCS. Our union will cover the person who answers our phone call all the way through the person who checks you out of your appointment. Our research and development teams. We are wall to wall. I was proud to join our bargaining team when we lost other team members during this long fight. I wanted to make sure we won improvements for the critical work Planned Parenthood staff do every day. With this TA we won a clear and transparent wage scale, progressive discipline procedures, and improvements to our healthcare benefits, especially for people covering family members. In many of the states we serve we've seen restrictions on bodily autonomy and I'm proud to be part of the fight against those infringements. This contract gives frontline staff more stability so we can focus on the critical work we do every day. We hope this will help address our staffing shortage so we can provide the compassionate and kind care our patients deserve. We came in with high hopes, and I am disappointed we didn't win everything our staff deserve, but this TA is a foundation that will improve our organization not just for the 3 year life of the contract, but well beyond. I believe that this TA means better care for our staff, which will mean better care for our patients."
The TA will now go out to union members to review, debate and vote over the next week on whether to approve the contract, and if the majority votes yes the 3-year agreement will go into effect right away, retroactive to January 1.
Separate from the Tentative Agreement, the two sides are still awaiting decisions from the National Labor Relations Board on pending Unfair Labor Practices charges.