4,000 Allina Health workers schedule May 10 strike

Allina Health workers filed a strike notice April 28 amid contract negotiations with the Minneapolis-based health system, according to the union that represents them.  

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said a strike could start May 10 at Allina facilities in the Twin Cities area if an agreement isn't reached. 

The strike notice covers 4,000 healthcare workers, including environmental service aids, nursing assistants, nutrition services, emergency department techs, warehouse clerks and others. They work at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Mercy Hospital – Unity Campus, Owatonna Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and United Hospital.   

"I'm ready to strike because I feel like it's a shame our employer isn't willing to see how hard all of us have worked through the pandemic on the front lines. We're being treated like a number, not valued employees, and that feels very disrespectful," Karen Cullen, who has worked in environmental services at Mercy Hospital for more than 16 years and is a union steward with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, said in a news release.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Allina have bargained since January, and the union announced April 1 that members authorized their bargaining team to file a strike notice if needed.

The union said both sides are divided on key issues, including Allina offering no pay increase for the first year of the contract. The union also contends Allina has not been willing to agree to  changes related to staffing and workplace safety as healthcare workers deal with stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allina defended its pay in a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review

The health system said it pays SEIU-represented employees, on average, 5 percent to 6 percent more than other health systems.

The health system also said SEIU recently settled with other healthcare systems in the Twin Cities area for less than Allina's current proposal, and it has consistently offered proposals to the union that include wage increases and agreeing to some of the union's other priority issues.

"SEIU continues to seek an economic package that is unrealistic and does not reflect the financial realities caused by the pandemic," Allina said. 

Another bargaining session is scheduled for May 3. 

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