MINNEAPOLIS - Thousands of Twin Cities healthcare workers will have their say Monday on whether or not to go on strike.
Thirty-five hundred members of the Service Employees International Union will vote May 14 and 15 on whether to authorize a 2-to-5 day Unfair Labor Practice strike.
Union negotiators say they have been unable to reach a new contract agreement due to proposed changes by the hospitals that would lower many employees income. The union maintains that the proposed cuts would drive many employees into poverty.
"Three years ago when the hospitals were struggling, we agreed to wage freezes so we could all focus on providing the best care possible for our patients," said Joscelyn Barnes, a bargaining team member and Nursing Assistant at Fairview Southdale Hospital, in a written statement. "Yet now, when the hospital and CEOs are earning record-breaking profits, the hospital workers that spend each day and night caring for patients are being asked to survive on even less."
Hospitals that would be impacted by the strike include Fairview, Children's Hospital, Health East, North Memorial and Park Nicollet.
Staff members considering a strike include nursing assistants, ER techs, maintenance and food service personnel, clerks and warehouse staff, among others.
"Our members remain highly committed to serving in the best interest of patients seeking healthcare at these hospitals," said Julie Schnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. "But in order to invest in providing the best, and most affordable, health care a hospital can, administrators need to invest in those who are on the front lines of providing that care, not those at the top 1% of the system."
After the votes are counted negotiators representing both workers and the hospitals head back to the bargaining table on Wednesday, May 16.
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