SEIU postpones hospital strike, says Allina threatened to file labor complaint

A union representing healthcare workers at Minneapolis-based Allina Health said it postponed a two-day strike earlier this month after Allina threatened to file an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board regarding any picketing during the walkout. 

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota had scheduled a strike to begin Sept. 13 at Allina's St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Min., and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. However, the union announced Sept. 9 that the strike was postponed.

"Allina declared that it will take … action regarding any picketing during the strike. In other words, Allina is now arguing that the front-line, essential healthcare workers going on strike cannot legally picket," SEIU said in a news release. "Although the union believes that Allina's legal theory defies common sense and has no merit, in any event, the union is postponing the strike out of an abundance of caution." 

Unions are required by federal law to provide a 10-day notice before a strike, but the union did not do so, Allina said in a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review. The union has not set a new strike date. 

SEIU and Allina have been in negotiations since May on behalf of about 220 workers at St. Francis and Abbott Northwestern.  

According to the union, key sticking points in negotiations include pay and benefits for potential exposures to the coronavirus. SEIU said members seek safe working conditions as well as fair pay, increased paid time off, and improvements to health insurance and retirement plans and benefits. 

Allina said it "has consistently offered proposals that demonstrate our commitment to our employees, while also reflecting the current financial realities caused by the pandemic." 

Specifically, it cited its proposed 2.25 percent pay increase over the life of each contract and its commitment not to seek any concessions in current contract language. 

"It is particularly disappointing that the union would use this tactic in the middle of a global pandemic, especially when most Allina Health employees have already made monetary sacrifices that equal or exceed those being asked of the union," the health system said, adding, "Our preference is always to get back to the bargaining table to reach fair and equitable agreements on new contracts and avoid work stoppages which take our employees away from the patients who rely on them for care."

SEIU-represented workers include medical lab technicians, polysomnographer technicians, surgical techs, respiratory therapists, special imaging techs, and radiology technologists.


More articles on human resources:
Nurses at HCA's Mission Health vote to unionize
5 recent hospital-union conflicts, agreements
University of Illinois nurses strike ends with progress on agreement

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