Strike by mental health workers looms at Minnesota hospitals

Members of the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa are set to begin a three-day strike Oct. 3 at M Health Fairview and Allina Health facilities in Minnesota.

The union represents healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and home care. This includes about 400 mental health workers at Allina Health and M Health Fairview hospitals in the Twin Cities, according to a Sept. 27 union news release. Those affected by the planned strike work at M Health Fairview's University of Minnesota Medical Center and Allina Health's Abbott Northwestern Hospital, both in Minneapolis, as well as Mercy Hospital-Unity Campus in Fridley, Minn.

Union members voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa late last year and are in negotiations with hospital management. The union contends that during negotiations, M Health Fairview and Allina Health have refused to reach a fair agreement that would adequately address their concerns about workplace safety and staffing issues. Union members also want to improve patients' access to mental health services.

"We are ready to strike because no one should worry about getting hurt at work," Dana Disbrow, a psychiatric associate at M Health Fairview, said in the union release. "We are ready to strike because no one should have to worry if there will be enough workers if they need mental health support. We've already lost too many good workers because of the challenges we are facing, and we are ready to strike for the health, safety and dignity of ourselves and our patients."

In a statement shared with Becker's, Allina Health said the health system "has offered an economic package that provides competitive compensation and additional benefits. We have also offered the same language the union agreed to on behalf of other Allina Health employees regarding workplace safety."

In a separate statement shared with Becker's, M Health Fairview said the health system has "negotiated in good faith with the union for the last nine 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. We have made significant progress, including reaching 17 tentative agreements, however the union has proposed limitations to how we care for our patients, and actions that violate our standards of care and a patient’s privacy rights. These are items we cannot agree to."

The strike could still be averted if both sides reach an agreement. At the same time, Allina Health and M Health Fairview said they are prepared to continue providing care if a strike occurs.

The strike would be the second recent walkout at Minnesota hospitals. About 15,000 members of the Minnesota Nurses Association reached the last day of their three-day strike Sept. 14 at hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars