Union workers back on the job at Mayo Albert Lea 1 week after 1-day strike

Unionized employees who participated in a one-day strike at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, Minn., Dec. 19 returned to work Tuesday, according to the Albert Lea Tribune.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota represents roughly 80 employees at the hospital who work as certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, sterile processing technicians and in utilities and materials management. Those employees are part of the general group that voted to authorize the Dec. 19 strike in late November. The strike also affected six skilled maintenance workers who have not had a labor deal for more than two years.

Mayo Clinic stated employees who participated in the one-day strike would not be able to return to work for at least one week because of the standard one-week contract the hospital system signed with replacement workers, according to the Albert Lea Tribune. SEIU Minnesota described the situation as a "lockout," which Mayo challenged. In a previous statement, Mayo said the one-week period between striking workers' return was made known prior to the strike and union leaders were responsible for the situation due to their decision to call a strike in late December.

"We welcome our employees back after their union forced them to strike over the holidays, and are looking forward to seeing if the union will renew their commitment to negotiating in good faith," said Ginger Plumbo, Mayo spokeswoman.

Union leaders and hospital officials are slated to meet in negotiations Thursday.

"We hope they will finally work to find a solution after a year of 'my way or the highway' talk that led up to our one-day strike and their Christmas lockout, but even if they continue to put their profits over a fair contract, we are now more united than ever," said Justin Yost, a unionized employee in he utilities department. "There is nothing that will stop us in our fight for a fair contract that provides good jobs and quality rural healthcare for our families, our patients and our community."

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