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Nurses from three different hospitals continue to demand fair contracts

Essentia-St. Mary's, St. Luke's and Regina Hospital nurses are picketing Tuesday as they continue contract negotiations.

HASTINGS, Minn. — Editor's Note: The above video originally aired June 1, 2022.

Nurses at hospitals across the state were picketing Tuesday in attempt to re-negotiate their contracts in a way they say will better serve them and their patients. The informational pickets are being held by nurses in both the Twin Ports and Hastings.

Allina's Regina Hospital, St. Luke's and Essentia-St. Mary's personnel are all involved in the organized picket. Nurses in Hastings will be picketing from 6-8 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m., while nurses in Duluth will be on the picket line from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The nurses union noted in a press release that these information pickets are not work stoppages and nurses will not be walking off the job to participate.

The event comes after nurses at almost a dozen hospitals in the metro area picketed last month and as 15,000 nurses in the Twin Ports and Twin Cities work through new contract negotiations.

The point of the picket is to inform the public of the hospital labor crisis, according to a press release from the Minnesota Nurses Association, and apply pressure on hospital CEOs to, "put patients before profits and to approve fair contracts."

“We’re fighting for a contract that keeps nurses at Regina and lets us continue to help our community,” said registered nurse Gina Jacobson in a statement. “After years of cuts and low staffing, we’re ready to take a stand for our patients.” 

MNA nurses also launched a new video campaign aimed directly at hospital executives where they claim executives aren't doing enough to make sure that patients are taken care of. In the video posted on YouTube, the union alleges nurses are overworked, underpaid and that patients are being overcharged.

Essentia Health released a statement saying in part, "Essentia Health has a long history of reaching mutually acceptable agreements, and we are confident in achieving a similar outcome here. In the past five years, we have successfully negotiated more than 60 agreements with eight different unions representing 44 bargaining units across our facilities — all while avoiding a work stoppage." Essentia concluded by saying that their employees and patients are of the upmost importance and priority, and that the hospital group will do what it can to resolve the contract differences.

Allina Health also released a statement saying it has agreed to match Regina hospital MNA-represented employees with metro hospital increases — which are still being negotiated — and have reached a tentative agreement on hours of work provisions. Negotiations around other contract changes are still ongoing. "Beyond offering compensation enhancements, we have demonstrated our shared commitment to important issues like diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as safety and security concerns." Allina closed with saying they hope both groups can finish the bargaining swiftly and productively.

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