Over 130 workers at Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services (VSES) in Rochester, NY, overwhelmingly voted to join the IAM last week.

WATCH: VSES: First Veterinary practice on East Coast to unionize NBC News 10

The National Labor Relations Board vote count was announced live on a Zoom call with Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services workers, members of the IAM, and the National Veterinary Professionals Union.

Thrive Pet Healthcare owns VSES. The unit of 130 workers is made up of licensed veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, front desk staff, and other critical staff. The company’s controlling shareholder is a private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners.

“I am so excited for everyone who fought to achieve this life-changing victory,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Mike Evans. “The group stayed focused during a pandemic and aggressive anti-union campaign to overcome the tremendous hurdles that exist in the veterinary industry. The long hours and difficult conversations over the last few months will change the lives of many.”


“The IAM’s bid for the NLRB election was successful due to a partnership with Liz Hughston, president of the National Veterinary Professionals Union,” said IAM Organizing Director Vinny Addeo. “This grassroots campaign has been several months in the making. It has included the tireless work of several of the IAM’s Organizing Department members, including IAM Grand Lodge Representatives Michael Evans, Kathy Petersen and Jason Woodward. I would also like to commend IAM Associate General Counsel Bill Haller for his pivotal work in getting the appropriate bargaining unit approved by the NLRB.” 

Some of the significant issues for Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services workers included unfair working conditions, including understaffing and stagnant wages, despite rising costs for pet medical procedures.

“This historic election resulted from courageous workers in the veterinary industry who not only wanted to make change for themselves but wished to set an example for veterinary workers all across the nation,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “I congratulate Liz Hughston and the National Veterinary Professionals Union for their partnership to make this victory a reality. Today’s victory put the veterinary industry and private equity investors on notice about making sure their business model is based on equity and respect. We can’t afford to let this industry go the path of so many other industries destroyed by private equity investors. Now the hard work begins. The IAM will lend our full resources to obtain a first contract for the Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services workers.”

“The pandemic has exposed several issues impacting workers in veterinary medicine,” said Liz Hughston, president of the National Veterinary Professionals Union. “These issues have created a significant crisis in our industry. The only solution to combat this crisis is what the workers at VSES have done by creating a voice in their workplace. This labor-management partnership will make VSES a hospital that is better for employees, pet owners, and the pets they serve in the Rochester community.”  

“I am pleased to welcome the newest IAM members at VSES,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “I applaud this group for their courage by not only standing up for workers in Rochester, but the entire veterinary industry. We look forward to getting a good first contract and solving many of the workplace issues that were amplified during the pandemic.”

READ: Veterinary workers in Brighton vote to unionize WXXI (Rochester, NY) News

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