15,000 Minnesota nurses to consider 2nd potential strike

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association will vote Nov. 30 on whether to authorize a second strike.

The vote — which involves about 15,000 nurses at 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports — comes after union members reached the last day of their three-day strike Sept. 14.

Nurses have been back at work for two months since the walkout, but hospital executives have refused to adequately address care and working conditions in negotiations, MNA representatives contend in a Nov. 17 news release.

The union also contends that hospital executives have continued "to commit regular unfair labor practices, including colluding to keep wages down for nurses, direct dealing with nurse union members, and refusing to provide information necessary for the bargaining process."

A second potential strike would affect hospitals run by Allina Health, HealthPartners, Essentia Health, Fairview Health Services, Children's Minnesota, North Memorial Health and St. Luke's. Union members must authorize a strike and then issue a 10-day notice to hospital employers before a walkout could occur.

Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health expressed disappointment about a potential second strike.

"As we saw earlier this year, a strike does not bring us closer to an agreement," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's. "Our history of years of successful negotiations shows us that the best solutions are found through productive dialogue at the bargaining table. We remain committed to that effort and expect the MNA to explore with us innovative solutions that work for our nurses and the communities that we serve. In the meantime, Essentia's highest priority will remain the safety and well-being of our patients."

The Twin Cities Hospitals Group — which includes Children's Minnesota, North Memorial Health, Fairview and HealthPartners Methodist Hospital — told Becker's in a statement Nov. 17 that it is pleased the union has agreed to pursue mediation and is committed to reaching a contract settlement that is beneficial for both sides.

"Our nurses are valued partners in care and this principle is central to who we are as health systems and it extends to all our work in union negotiations," the statement reads. "We share the desire for our nurses to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported."

Minnapolis-based Allina Health issued the following statement: "We are facing an intensifying surge of illness related to RSV and influenza that is creating an access-to-care crisis in our hospitals with real impacts to the lives of Minnesotans. With this vote, the union is choosing to be opportunistic at a time of vulnerability for our community by disrupting care."  

Allina Health has a negotiation session scheduled for Nov. 18 and said the health system is willing to engage a mediator to be part of negotiations. 

St. Luke's issued the following statement: "We look forward to reaching a contract agreement that is fair to our employees, our patients and our communities as soon as possible."

The contract for nurses in the Twin Cities expired on May 31, and contracts for nurses in the Twin Ports expired on June 30.  

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