MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Nurses Association announced Thursday that thousands of nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth area intend to walk off the job for three days later this month after issuing a 10-day notice to strike.
"It is with heavy hearts that we take this action," MNA president and ICU nurse Mary Turner said at a press conference. "Nurses don't want to be away from the bedside. We are called to care for the people of Minnesota. It is why we went into this profession. It is why we stayed through all those dark days of the pandemic."
On Aug. 15, the union voted "overwhelmingly" to authorize a strike after more than five months of negotiations with hospital representatives.
"Today is a somber day," Turner said.
The strike is tentatively scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 12 and will last for three days across 16 hospitals under seven hospital systems: M Health Fairview, Essentia Health, HealthPartners, Allina Health, Children's Hospitals, North Memorial and St. Luke's.
The union called this strike the largest private sector nurses strike in U.S. history and is the first that Twin Cities and Twin Ports nurses have taken together in contract negotiations.
The union is calling for wage increases and more paid time off in their updated contracts. They're also demanding solutions for short-staffing, retention and better patient care.
According to the MNA, nurses and hospital executives continued negotiations after authorizing a strike last month, and the union claims hospital CEOs "have refused to negotiate with nurses" over solutions to their strongest demands.
Allina Health released a statement following the strike announcement, saying in part, "We are disappointed the union is choosing to rush to a strike before exhausting all options, like engaging a mediator in negotiations which they have repeatedly rejected. The union’s premature decision to move forward with a work stoppage is not Allina Health’s desired outcome of our negotiations."
Another statement on behalf of the Twin Cities Hospitals Group, which includes Children’s Minnesota, North Memorial Health, Fairview Health and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, said "despite the financial challenges to our hospitals, we are proud to have offered our nurses the largest wage increases in 15 years while agreeing to keep nurses’ benefits unchanged for the life of the contract. The nurses’ union continued demands for wage increases of more than 30 percent remain unreasonable, unrealistic and unaffordable."
Read the full statements from Allina Health and Twin Cities Hospitals Group below.
We are disappointed the union is choosing to rush to a strike before exhausting all options, like engaging a mediator in negotiations which they have repeatedly rejected. The union’s premature decision to move forward with a work stoppage is not Allina Health’s desired outcome of our negotiations. We made progress this week at the negotiating table and a strike only serves to keep our valued nurses from working alongside our care team to deliver needed patient care.
Throughout negotiations, Allina Health has offered an economic package that includes a wage increase of 11% over the three years of the contract, additional compensation benefits, and a commitment to other priority issues, such as diversity, equity and inclusion, workplace safety and recruitment and retention. The union is still at an unsustainable 31% wage increase over three years, which is not feasible as we look long-term at our responsibility to all employees and our commitment to being a sustainable asset to the communities we serve.
We know agreement on important issues for both parties is possible, and it is our preference to get back to the bargaining table with the help of a mediator. However, a work stoppage does not change our commitment to providing safe and reliable care to our communities and we have plans in place to continue providing care throughout the duration of the work stoppage.
Twin Cities Hospitals Group
We are disappointed the nurses’ union today has rushed into an intent to strike notification and refuses to exhaust all available means to avoid potential disruption to patient care including our repeated offers of an outside mediator. Mediation was successfully used in previous contract talks and we believe it represents a practical way to bring focus and clarity to the negotiations. We encourage the nurses’ union and its supporters to focus on the pathways we’ve successfully used in the past.
We understand the past two years have been hard on everyone in health care. Our care teams all worked exceptionally hard to care for patients and care for each other. Today, our non-profit hospitals continue to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes the pandemic brought to the workforce and our community. Despite the financial challenges to our hospitals, we are proud to have offered our nurses the largest wage increases in 15 years while agreeing to keep nurses’ benefits unchanged for the life of the contract. The nurses’ union continued demands for wage increases of more than 30 percent remain unreasonable, unrealistic and unaffordable.
It is important for the public to note: our hospitals are open and will remain open to serve the community. We will continue our efforts at the negotiating table to reach reasonable agreements and avoid any actions that would interrupt patient care. We assume the union will do the same. We remain committed to serving our community and keeping our focus on the patients we serve.
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