Allina Health technical workers go on strike

Allina Health technical workers began a two-day strike Oct. 5 at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minn., and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, according to the union that represents them.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota — which represents more than 200 workers at the facilities, including medical lab technicians, polysomnographer technicians, respiratory therapists and radiology technologists — said union members authorized a strike in September after months of negotiations.

The union had originally scheduled a strike to begin Sept. 13, but the date was rescheduled for this month.

During negotiations, one key sticking point is whether there is contract language to ensure pay and benefits for union members potentially exposed to COVID-19, said SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

The union said its members at Abbott Northwestern and St. Francis have a temporary agreement for the first time they have to quarantine, but multiple workers have had to use their sick time when they faced a second exposure to the virus.

Workers also seek increased paid time off and improvements to their health insurance and retirement plans.

Negotiations between the two sides began in May, the month before workers' contracts expired June 30. The contracts were extended by mutual agreement through July 31.

Allina emphasized the Minneapolis-based health system's commitment to reaching a fair and equitable agreement and said in a statement that it "has consistently offered proposals that demonstrate our commitment to our employees, while also reflecting the current financial realities caused by the pandemic." 

For example, the health system said it has offered a 2.25 percent wage increase over the life of each contract and is not asking for concessions in current contract language. 

"It is particularly disappointing that the union insists on striking in the middle of a global pandemic, especially in light of the financial sacrifices already being made by most other Allina Health employees," Allina said. "Allina Health's priority is to continue providing high-quality care to the community and we are prepared to continue to provide a full array of patient care services at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and St. Francis Regional Medical Center throughout the two-day work stoppage."



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