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Minnesota nurses union to vote on possible second strike

Around 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas have been back at work for two months since a three-day strike in September.

ST PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday morning, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) announced that members will vote to authorize another possible strike at more than a dozen hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports area.

The union's 15,000 nurses will vote on Nov. 30 to authorize the strike at 15 hospitals.

If the strike vote is approved by a two-thirds majority, union negotiation leaders will be authorized to call an unfair labor practice strike after giving a 10-day notice to hospital employees.

Back in September, nurses held a three-day strike in both the Twin Cities and Duluth-Superior areas. For months, the union has been involved in contract negotiations, calling for better pay, better security and increased staffing. "Patients before Profits" has become the battle cry of the nurses union, and leaders have accused hospital CEOs of taking multi-million dollar salaries while the quality of care and conditions in Minnesota hospitals deteriorate. 

The strike was the largest of its kind in U.S. history. 

According to information from MNA, nurses continue to bargain in good faith. Still, hospital executives continue to commit regular unfair labor practices, including conspiring to keep wages low for nurses, direct dealing with nurse union members, and refusing to provide information necessary for the bargaining process. 

Because the union had only filed for a three-day strike, when their time on the picket lines came to an end, nurses returned to work. They still don't have contracts in place. 

"If not now, when?" read a statement from Allina Health late Friday. "The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) publicly said yesterday it is open to mediation. Allina Health offered to involve a mediator in today’s bargaining session, however, the union declined. This begs the question, if not now, when?"

The statement went on to read: 

While there was some movement during today’s bargaining session, including the parties’ wage proposals, MNA is still demanding an unsustainable wage increase of 22.5% over three years. We value our nurses and believe that they deserve to be fairly compensated for their contributions and are now offering a 13.25% wage increase over the life of the contract, in addition to other economic benefits. 

Allina Health is scheduled to negotiate with the union again on Dec. 2, yet MNA has made it clear the union’s priority is voting on a possible strike authorization. We ask the union to stop declining solutions that can bring these negotiations to a successful close. Our community does not deserve any disruptions to care, especially when we are experiencing a surge of seasonal illnesses that are creating an access-to-care crisis in our hospitals. 

The Twin Cities Hospitals Group, meanwhile, issued a statement of its own:

"We’re pleased that MNA President Mary Turner today finally agreed to pursue mediation. We believe mediation is an effective tool to reach agreement, particularly in contract negotiations that have gone on for more than seven months.

We, as the Twin Cities Hospitals Group, are committed to meeting as much as is practical to bargain through mediation to reach a contract settlement that is beneficial for both parties.

 Our nurses are valued partners in care and this principle is central to who we are as health systems and it extends to all our work in union negotiations. We share the desire for our nurses to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported.

 We will continue to bargain in good faith and work hard to reach a resolution. We know the current situation inside hospitals throughout the country is very challenging and a union work stoppage could have disastrous consequences for our patients and the communities we serve."

RELATED: Nurses, hospital leaders back at bargaining table, but with little progress

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