Essentia hospital nurses authorize strike

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association voted Aug. 16 to authorize nurse negotiation leaders to call a strike at Essentia Health-Moose Lake (Minn.).

The union, an affiliate of National Nurses United, represents more than 22,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Union members at Essentia Health-Moose Lake held an informational picket in June. The union began negotiating its first contract with Essentia Health two years ago, according to an Aug. 17 union news release. Meanwhile, the hospital told Becker's in a statement that it is "confident we can reach an agreement that continues to support quality patient care and good local jobs because of our strong track record of reaching mutually beneficial agreements."

The union contends the hospital has failed to address members' concerns about staffing and retention. "Having a fair contract that gives nurses a voice on safe staffing, scheduling and fair compensation retains staff. So far, every action we have taken has been ignored. We feel we have no other choice than to strike," Tristin Eastvold, RN, said in the union release.

The vote to authorize a strike at Essentia Health-Moose Lake comes after thousands of members of the Minnesota Nurses Association voted Aug. 15 to authorize nurse negotiation leaders to call a strike at hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth area. A strike authorization does not mean a strike will occur. However, it authorizes nurse negotiation leaders to call one after giving a 10-day notice to the hospital.

"Should it become necessary, we have contingency plans to ensure we can continue to care for our patients in the event of an MNA strike," the hospital statement reads. 

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