The nurses union for Children's Minnesota has voted to authorize a strike if their contract demands are not met in negotiations.
On Thursday night, the votes of the 1,500 nurses in the union were tallied and they say it was an overwhelming vote to authorize a strike.
Negotiator Elaina Hane, a pediatric intensive care nurse at Children's St. Paul, says nurses feel "devalued and disrespected," and "are prepared to do what it takes to get a fair contact."
Thursday's vote doesn't mean a strike is imminent. From this point on, it's still up to union leaders to actually call a strike and this could be avoided if the contract negotiations continue.
But if they do call a strike it would then go into effect in ten days.
The major issue revolves around healthcare premiums for the nurses, which they want to be frozen after recent increases.
The two sides plan to meet for negotiations Friday at 9 a.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Bloomington.
Below is a statement from officials at Children's Minnesota:
"It is disappointing that the MNA nurses at Children's have voted to authorize a strike. When you consider the progress we've made over several bargaining sessions, and the fact that the union has declined our requests to use a mediator, it doesn't make sense and it's unnecessary. Not only have we agreed to support various union priorities, including workplace safety, we have offered to go higher on wages because we value the important work that nurses do. Nonetheless, the union has chosen to focus on insurance -- and have singled out one plan with the smallest number of Children's nurses enrolled. Given the rising costs of health care, it shouldn't be surprising that costs for our most comprehensive plan have risen. Nevertheless, Children's continues to pay the bulk of the costs for this plan, as well as the other two plans available. A vote for a strike doesn't mean one will actually occur, and we are hopeful that we can make progress Friday at the negotiating table and work toward a resolution. Our goal is to come to an agreement that works for everyone, while also ensuring that care for our patients and families remains best-in-class."