Mayo Albert Lea healthcare workers set strike date: 8 things to know

Unionized healthcare workers at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic Health System's Albert Lea campus plan to strike this month, according to a Post-Bulletin report.

Here are eight things to know.

1. Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota, which represents the workers, announced the planned strike via news release, saying it is filing a 10-day notice of intent to hold the one-day "unfair labor practice" walkout Dec. 19.

2. Employees affected by the strike include 79 union members working 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 a one-day strike in late November. Six skilled maintenance workers who have not had a labor deal for more than two years have also voted to participate in the strike.

3. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley said of the reasoning behind the strike: "Families in Albert Lea are simply fighting for good jobs and a commitment from Mayo to show that they value the Albert Lea community. For skilled maintenance workers, they have been without a contract for two years, and the general group for over a year. Mayo continues to insist on rolling back protections for workers and won't budge on their demands to strip basic security and respect from people who have dedicated decades of experience to their community hospital."

4. Mayo told Becker's via email Thursday it has not yet received an official strike notice from the union and called the timing of the news release, prior to providing that notice, "unfortunate." System officials went on to say in the event a strike does take place, "it is regrettable that they [the union] would deliberately subject our hard-working employees to uncertainty, anxiety and lost wages at this time of year."

"We are especially disappointed that the union would call a strike now, since the SEIU general group, which composes the majority of the impacted workers, didn't even ask us for a bargaining session between May and last week, and a recently scheduled meeting with the union has yet to occur," Mayo added.

5. As far as preparation efforts for a strike, Mayo has said it would bring in replacement workers if a walkout occurred, and striking employees would be out of work for one week from the beginning of the strike due to contractual obligations to those replacement workers.

6. In the meantime, Mayo said it is "committed to providing them [union members] fair wages and benefits. The employees are being offered the same Mayo Clinic benefits package that is enjoyed by virtually all other allied health employees, which we strongly believe is better as a whole than the benefits they currently receive."

7.  Mayo seeks to include a clause that it said allows it "to adjust benefits during the contract period to align with any annual changes to the benefit package offered to all our employees." According to the report, the union has not been willing to accept this.

8. Throughout contract negotiations, both sides have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board against each other.


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