Press Release

Wichita nurses to rally as Ascension Via Christi St. Francis RNs begin historic contract negotiations

Group of four nurses outside hospital hold signs "Staff up for safe patient care"

Union nurses in Wichita, Kan., will hold a rally on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 8 a.m. to celebrate Ascension Via Christi St. Francis RNs beginning negotiations on their first contract, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today. St. Francis nurses will also be joined by their union siblings from Wichita’s Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph hospital, where registered nurses just filed their own union petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“This is going to be a historic day for Wichita, both for us as nurses and for the entire community,” said Shelly Rader, RN in the emergency department at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. “Nurses are patient advocates, both at the bedside and at the bargaining table. We’re rallying to show management we’re excited about a contract that empowers us to give our patients the best care possible, especially through addressing the staffing crisis at our facility. The people of Wichita deserve nothing less, and that’s why we unionized.”

St. Francis became the largest Wichita hospital and first private-sector hospital in the city to unionize when nurses there voted by a nearly two-to-one margin to join NNU, the largest and fastest-growing nurses’ union in the United States. Now, St. Joseph nurses are seeking to join them, having filed a petition for union representation with the NLRB. If successful, NNOC/NNU will represent a total of nearly 1,000 Wichita-area nurses at these two Ascension facilities.

  • Who: Registered nurses from Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and St. Joseph
  • What: Rally for a strong contract
  • When: Wednesday, Feb. 15, 8 a.m.
  • Where: Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital, 929 St. Francis, Wichita, KS, 67214

“There’s so much power in a union,” said Sara Wilson, an RN in the orthopedic trauma unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. “We are feeling the power here at St. Francis and across Wichita. We’re hopeful management will come to the table and negotiate a contract worthy of our patients, nurses, and community, one that prioritizes safe-staffing.”

“We’re rallying to cheer the St. Francis nurses on, and we can’t wait to win our election and get to the bargaining table ourselves,” said Whitney Steinike, RN in the adolescent psychiatric unit at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph. “It’s the dawn of a new era for health care in Wichita, and nurses are glad to have the community support we’ve already received.”

“NNU nurses nationwide know that a strong contract is a key piece of our fight for better patient care, especially when it comes to staffing” said NNU President Deborah Burger, RN. “We’re so excited to see nurses organizing and fighting for strong contracts all over the country, and Wichita nurses are part of a union committed to taking on corporate health care for the sake of our communities’ health.”

Both Wichita facilities are owned by Ascension, one of the largest not-for-profit and Catholic hospital chains in the nation. Over 900 nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin in Texas, which is owned by the same company, also joined NNU in a historic vote last year and began bargaining their first contract in November.

National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United represents more than 650 nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and will represent 300 nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph pending their NLRB election.

National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide.