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Hundreds of Minnesota nurses march inside banks, call out executives

The Minnesota Nurses Association says bank executives serving on hospital boards are failing to intervene and hold hospital CEOs accountable.

MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of nurses from several different hospitals rallied in downtown Minneapolis to demand higher staffing levels. In September, around 15,000 nurses statewide went on a three-day strike over similar issues. This time, their message wasn't just for hospital executives.

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) says bank executives, who serve on hospital boards, are failing to intervene and hold hospital CEOs accountable for short staffing and other issues. According to MNA, U.S. Bank executives Timothy Welsh, Jodi Richard, and Jeff von Gillern are board members for Allina Health, M Health Fairview, and Children's Minnesota respectively.

"They are responsible for what's going on at our hospitals," MNA president Mary Turner said. "They are responsible for the failure of our CEOs."

After making remarks outside U.S. Bancorp Center Wednesday, the nurses went into the building. They then marched to Wells Fargo and went inside that building.

Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, which represents service workers, joined MNA in saying bank executives are part of the problem.

"U.S. Bank and the other fortune 500 companies that are the ones that are on these health systems boards, that are truly the puppeteers in your contract negotiations, are also the ones who are making the real decisions for not only the janitors contracts and the security contracts but the bus drivers contracts, the public sector contracts, these same folks are behind most of the important decisions that happen in our communities," said President of SEIU Local 26  Greg Nammacher.

This rally comes more than a month after the historic Minnesota nurses strike. MNA says it's been at the bargaining table since then but says there is still no agreement with hospitals over staffing and other working conditions they say are driving nurses away from their jobs and negatively impacting patient care.

Allina Health responded with a statement Wednesday, saying it is "disappointed" MNA  "continues to focus its energy on public rallies" instead of negotiations:

Allina Health is disappointed that the Minnesota Nurses Association continues to focus its energy on public rallies and demonstrations rather than getting serious about negotiating a fair and sustainable contract at the bargaining table. 

Since March, Allina Health has negotiated in good faith with the union 18 times, and we have made progress on priority non-economic proposals. Yet, proposals around unreasonable wages and staffing provisions continue to stall negotiations. We believe bringing negotiations to a common table with other health care systems can move us toward a contract agreement. We renewed this request as recently as October 31 and have not heard anything from the union. We continue to ask for the engagement of a neutral mediator to assist both parties in coming to a contract agreement. The union has refused.

Allina Health’s next bargaining session is tomorrow, November 3. At a time when our community’s health care needs are high, the time is now to bring these contracts to a productive conclusion for the benefit of our teams and the patients and communities we collectively serve. 

- Allina Health

Because this wasn't a strike, M Health Fairview says  there was no impact to system operations Wednesday. Allina added that anyone who participated and wasn't already off would need to take PTO. No extra nurses were needed and there was no impact to patient care.

KARE 11 also reached out to U.S Bank for response. A spokesperson referred us to Allina.

Wells Fargo did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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