Mental health workers to strike at Allina Health, M Health Fairview

Mental health workers from M Health Fairview and Allina Health, both based in Minneapolis, plan to strike May 24 unless they reach a deal on their first contracts, the Minnesota Reformer reported May 16.

The members of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa work at hospitals in the Twin Cities area.

They are calling for more protections from their employers.

"We're facing increasingly unsafe conditions," Christy Beach, senior mental health coordinator at the Allina Health Mercy Hospital-Unity Campus in Fridley, Minn., said, according to the Reformer. "We love to do this work, but it can be very dangerous … especially when we are understaffed."

The union is also asking for a pay scale for members that is aligned with other professional healthcare workers, as well as more respect from hospital administrators and improved safety and security measures, NBC affiliate KARE reported.

"These workers have been so underpaid and the wages suppressed for so long, that what we're really trying to do is readjust the wage scale," Brenda Hilbrich, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa, told the Reformer.

Workers are planning a strike after psychiatric associates and senior psychiatric associates at M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center-West Bank in Minneapolis voted to unionize last year. Mental health workers at Allina also voted to unionize in 2021. They are negotiating their first contracts.

During negotiations, Allina Health has met with the SEIU-represented senior mental health coordinators and diagnostic sonographers over the last few months "to negotiate terms and conditions of employment that recognize the contributions of our employees and the complexity and sustainability of delivering care to the community," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's.

The statement said Allina has offered competitive compensation and additional benefits, as well as the same language the union agreed to on behalf of other Allina Health employees related to workplace safety.

M Health Fairview also shared a statement with Becker's, saying it wants workers to feel valued and supported and has "negotiated in good faith with the union for the last five months to align on a contract that supports our employees and provides us with the flexibility we need to provide top-quality care to our patients."

The statement said progress has been made in negotiations, but concerns remain because "the union has proposed limitations to how we care for our patients that we cannot agree to." M Health also noted it was still awaiting a payment proposal from the union.

A strike could still be called off if the involved parties reach labor deals.

Overall, a strike could involve as many as 400 Allina Health and M Health Fairview mental health workers, according to the Reformer

Copyright © 2022 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.

 

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars