Allina nurse strike approaches record territory at more than 30 days

A strike by nurses at Minneapolis-based Allina Health nears a state record 1984 strike, when nurses in the Twin Cities walked off the job for 38 days, according to a Star Tribune report.

Allina nurses, who are represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, began their second strike of the summer on Labor Day at five hospitals. They also went on strike for seven days in June, bringing their total days off the job in 2016 to 31 and counting, according to the article.

Talks between negotiators for Allina and 4,800 of its nurses resumed Tuesday, the same day striking Allina nurses rallied outside the Radisson Blu Hotel in downtown Minneapolis during the annual shareholders meeting of General Mills. General Mills has an executive serving on Allina's board. The discussions continued Wednesday, but adjourned that night with no agreement, according to the report. Both sides are expected to continue negotiations Thursday morning.

A key sticking point in the dispute between Allina and its 4,800 nurses has been the nurses' health insurance.

Allina wanted to eliminate the nurses' union-backed health plans, which include high premiums but low or no deductibles, and move the nurses to its corporate plans, reports the Star Tribune. Allina has estimated that eliminating the nurses' union-backed health plans would save the health system $10 million per year.

Nurses ultimately agreed to Allina's demand in talks just before Labor Day, reports the Star Tribune. However, they subsequently decided to strike when Allina declined to give the union requested control over the future cost and quality of those corporate plans, the report states.

The prolonged strike has hit Allina financially, as the health system's cost for replacement nurses during the two strikes this year easily has surpassed $40 million, according to the Star Tribune. Striking Allina nurses have accepted various types of replacement work to earn income as their walkout against the health system enters week four. Striking nurses also have turned to the union for financial support. Last week, a union committee reviewed 200 hardship requests and issued $130,000 in checks to striking nurses, reports the Star Tribune.

Back in 1984, 6,000 nurses at 15 Minnesota hospitals walked off the job, according to MinnPost. That strike, according to the report, affected about half the hospital beds in the Twin Cities and was the largest job action of its kind in the country until that point.

 

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