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HealthPartners workers vote to authorize strike

Union members filed a 10-day strike notice Friday, and if no agreement is reached in that time, the strike would begin Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Credit: KARE
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which represents 1,800 HealthPartners employees, voted to authorize a 7-day Unfair Labor Practices strike. Union members said they filed a 10-day notice on Friday and if no agreement is reached by then, the strike would begin on Feb. 19.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota members at HealthPartners announced on Friday that they've approved a seven-day Unfair Labor Practices strike.

Union members said they filed a 10-day strike notice on Friday, after voting to authorize the strike on on Thursday. If no agreement is reached in that 10-day span, workers would begin their seven-day strike on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents 1,800 members at HealthPartners, including nurses, dental and nursing assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives at more than 30 locations.

"I have mixed feelings about today's news," said Kate Lynch, who is a licensed practical nurse at HealthPartners and is a member of the bargaining team. "I am so happy to stand with my fellow union members, who overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike in our fight for what we need for ourselves and our families, and what is best for our patients.

"But as a 31-year employee and nine-time member of our bargaining team, after years of good relationships, these negotiations felt incredibly disrespectful."

RELATED: 1,800 HealthPartners workers vote on potential strike

The union says that employees' healthcare benefits is the main issue. Workers voted to authorize the strike on Thursday by a vote of 95% to 5%.

"I have always been so proud to work at HealthPartners," said Clara Boykin, a 30-year HealthPartners employee and member of the bargaining team. "The health insurance we have won over the years has been so important to me and has allowed all of us to provide award-winning care. But these proposed rollbacks would change that."

HealthPartners provided the following statement in response to Friday's announcement:

Today’s vote announcement is disappointing. We value our SEIU-represented colleagues and are grateful for the work they do to help improve the health and well-being of our patients. That’s why the proposal we put forth would ensure they maintain market-leading benefits.

The modest changes we proposed to their health plan would support better health and encourage our colleagues to get care in high-quality, more affordable settings. We believe this is a fair and reasonable proposal, especially given the financial headwinds facing the health care industry.

A federal mediator has been part of the negotiating process, and it will be up to the mediator to call both parties back to the table. We remain committed to reaching an agreement on a new contract that is fair to all.

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