Employees who work at 28 Planned Parenthood clinics five states, including Iowa, have voted to form a union.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, over 90% of workers who voted supported the move. Ashley Schmidt who works Planned Parenthood facilities in Nebraska and western Iowa spoke during an online news conference.

“As we move forward into what will be a very challenging time, having a union will make sure all of our voices are heard,” she said. “We will start pushing right away to get our first contract.”

There are about 435 frontline employees at Planned Parenthood of North Central States facilities in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas. They are joining the Service Employees International Union, which has about two million members nationwide, many of whom work in health care. April Clark, who has worked for Planned Parenthood in Iowa for a decade, said negotiations will address employee burni-out by making sure there are adequate staffing levels.

“We’ve been working on unionization for a long time, but the work is just beginning,” she says. “Now we begin the process of bargaining for a contract: for a seat at the table for front line workers, for fair wages, better benefits.”

The union contract will cover nurses, pharmacists and other staff who work at clinics in the five states. Union organizing has increased during the pandemic. The number of petitions with the National Labor Board seeking a vote on union membership has jumped 58% over the last nine months.