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Unions urging state lawmakers to pass 5 health care bills

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Three unions are starting a campaign Tuesday to urge state lawmakers to approve five health care bills – including one to bring back collective bargaining for UW Hospital employees.

Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Middleton and Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee are sponsoring the measures.

Leaders of the Service Employees International Union, Wisconsin Federation of Nurses, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees planned a mid-day news conference.

About 300 health care workers were expected to meet with other lawmakers Tuesday, to lobby for the five measures.

One would restore bargaining for about 5,000 UW medical workers, who can only seek pay hikes at or below inflation under Act 10. They have three contracts in the process of expiring through late January.

The other bills would require minimum ratios of nurses to patients – ban mandatory overtime – require safe patient handling programs – and create programs to prevent violence and bullying of health care personnel.

The unions said most workplace assaults from 2003 to ’07 involved assaults on health care and social assistance workers.