St. Luke's nurses set to strike Oct. 3

Nurses at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minn., plan to strike Oct. 3 unless they reach a tentative contract settlement with hospital management by 7 a.m. that day, according to the union that represents them.

The Minnesota Nurses Association said in a news release that nurses filed a 10-day strike notice with the hospital but will resume negotiations with the hospital Sept. 20 to try to avoid a walkout. Both sides have been negotiating since May 15.

"The nurses' bargaining team has been meeting with hospital management for four months already," Pete Boyechko, a St. Luke's nurse and member of the negotiating team, said in a news release. "We've made it very clear. St. Luke's needs to offer competitive wages and benefits to recruit and retain enough nurses for safe patient care."

The nurses also have alleged that low staffing levels have prevented them from providing the best care possible. They picketed Aug. 20 to raise awareness of their concerns. The nurses' union also alleges St. Luke's "has been removing union literature from the workplace, preventing members from attending union meetings, prohibiting discussions about their contract from the nurse's station area and intimidating nurses who were discussing their contract."

Kevin Nokels, St. Luke's president and CEO, issued a statement claiming that the hospital has been focused on a fair and safe contract and that its most recent proposal achieves this through wage increases that match local and metro area hospitals, along with extra shift bonuses, increased pay for nurse mentors and student loan reimbursement.

"The strike notification by the MNA has set in motion the contingency plans St. Luke's has in place to maintain continuity of care by bringing in replacement nurses to care for our patients," he added. "The high, nonrecoverable costs of these contingency plans will likely force St. Luke's to fundamentally reconsider, and possibly reduce, the breadth of services we provide. The decision to strike — even for one day — will be definitive."

Mr. Nokels said the hospital remains "hopeful for and committed to constructive talks, solution-seeking and transparency" as it heads into negotiations Sept. 20.


More articles on human capital and risk:

California nurses to strike Sept. 20
Colorado Kaiser workers authorize nationwide strike affecting more than 80,000 employees
Nurses plan strikes at Tenet hospitals in 3 states

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