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Allina WestHealth union nurses set strike date

The work stoppage comes as nurses seek a new contract that would provide "fair pay and benefits" for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit: KARE 11

PLYMOUTH, Minnesota — Union nurses at Allina's WestHealth campus in Plymouth are planning to launch a three-day strike as they seek a new contract that would provide "fair pay and benefits" for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) announced Thursday that the strike will run from Sunday, Oct. 17 at 7 a.m. to Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 7 a.m. The union says negotiations have been ongoing since May, and that a final 90-minute negotiating session Wednesday failed to reach agreement on a number of issues, including holiday pay and benefits. 

MNA said in a press release that fair compensation for holiday work is critical, because the pandemic and understaffing by Allina and other providers has forced nurses to work more days and longer hours. 

“WestHealth nursing staff stayed the course during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Registered Nurse Sonya Worner in a released statement. "Now, in its wake, Allina is refusing to make the necessary movement toward a fair contract."

Union leadership says nurses will be on the picket line from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Allina WestHealth, 2855 Campus Dr, Plymouth, during the time the strike is active. 

In a statement sent to KARE 11, Allina Health says it is "disappointed to receive a strike notice from the Minnesota Nurses Association" and it is their "preference to reach an agreement on a new contract that prioritizes the health needs of the community and sustainably recognizes the contributions of our employees."

See below for Allina's full statement:

Allina Health is disappointed to have received a strike notice from the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) for the approximately 50 nurses who work in Abbott Northwestern WestHealth’s Emergency Department and Urgent Care facilities. We previously reached a contract settlement that was unanimously recommended by the union’s bargaining team. Unfortunately, the union could not finalize that agreement. 

Allina Health and Abbott Northwestern WestHealth have negotiated 7 times with MNA. Throughout negotiations we have consistently offered proposals that demonstrate our commitment to our employees, including an immediate wage increase to align wages with other metro hospitals and agreeing to some of the union’s other priority issues.

Allina Health’s priority is providing high quality care to the community. At a time when hospitals are under significant pressure throughout the state and country due to sustained high volumes from COVID-19 and other acute illness, a work stoppage benefits no one. It is our preference to reach an agreement on a new contract that prioritizes the health needs of the community and sustainably recognizes the contributions of our employees.