Minnesota nurses to gather, call for CEO action on staff retention

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports plan to hold actions Aug. 2 to urge hospital CEOs and other executives to address their concerns about staff retention.

The actions, announced in an Aug. 1 news release, come amid current negotiations of 15,000 nurses at hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports for a new contract. Union members are calling for "solutions to short staffing and retention that will put patients before profits in Minnesota hospitals." They also held informational pickets June 21 at three hospitals: Essentia-St. Mary's Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital, both in Duluth, Minn., and Allina Health's Regina Hospital in Hastings, Minn. 

The Minnesota Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, has more than 22,000 members in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin, including members in Minneapolis and Duluth. Contracts expired for nurses on May 31 in the Twin Cities and June 30 for nurses in Duluth.

Amid contract negotiations, the union launched a campaign that includes a website as well as a paid digital advertising campaign highlighting issues facing nurses and patients, including staffing, patient care and wages. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, the Twin Cities Hospitals group — which includes Children's Minnesota, North Memorial Health, Fairview and HealthPartners Methodist Hospital — said contract talks began in mid-March at the four hospital systems represented by the group, and each hospital has had more than 15 negotiating sessions with the union without coming to an agreement.

The statement said the group has proposed "the largest wage increase in 15 years while keeping nurses' benefits unchanged over contract years. While we have made small progress in some areas, there remain significant differences between our proposals and those of the union."

"Hospital systems are continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with many facing significant financial challenges," the statement added. "In this climate, wage increases proposed by the union between 32 to 37 percent are unrealistic, unaffordable and unwise considering the growing affordability crisis facing patients and healthcare systems across the country."

The group also encouraged the union to come back to the bargaining table to negotiate.  

Minneapolis-based Allina Health expressed similar sentiments in a statement shared with Becker's.  

The health system said Aug. 2 will mark the 11th time it will have met with the union to reach an agreement.

"We are hopeful that we will begin to see progress at the bargaining table. Allina Health has offered compensation enhancements and demonstrated our shared commitment to important issues like diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as safety and security concerns," Allina Health said. "It is our goal to agree on a contract that honors our nurses, while also prioritizing the health needs of our community so we are able to bring these negotiations to a productive end."

The Aug. 2 union actions are planned on the Southwest corner of University Ave. SE and SE Oak St. in Minneapolis and at the corner of N 10th Ave. E and E 2nd St. in Duluth, Minn.

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