Breaking News
More () »

Nurses hold 'informational picket' outside HCMC

It is not a strike and nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association said work will not be stopped as a result.

MINNEAPOLIS — Nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center held an "informational picket" Monday.

The picket, said to be the first at HCMC, began at 7 a.m. It is not a strike and nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association said work will not be stopped as a result.

Hennepin Healthcare nurses say they're concerned about retention, understaffing, and rising levels of violence against nurses and patients.

"We have folks that can't even get a day off for their own medical needs and then we have the violence that our folks are experiencing," union steward Andi Sherek said. "Verbally abusive all the way up to physical assault, we have nurses who have been head-butted. We have pregnant nurses who have been kicked in the abdomen."

The nurses are currently in negotiations with the hospital over wages.

A statement from Hennepin Healthcare reads: 

"Peaceful picketing in public places, such as a sidewalk, is a protected First Amendment activity and we support our employees’ right to express themselves."

"Since negotiations are ongoing with our MNA bargaining unit currently we are not going to discuss them outside of the negotiations other than to reaffirm our commitment to remain competitive with our market for our valued nurses. This has been achieved in recent settlements with multiple other bargaining units and we are confident that we can reach a fair settlement with our nurses as well."

Last week nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association voted "overwhelmingly" to authorize a strike. That means union leaders can call a strike at any time after giving employers a 10-day notice. It would impact 15 hospitals from seven health systems: Allina Health, Children's Minnesota, Essentia Health, HealthPartners, M Health Fairview, North Memorial Health, and St. Luke's.

KARE 11 checked in with those systems Monday to see where negations stand.

Allina Health:

"We have met with the Minnesota Nurses Association twelve times to reach an agreement on a contract. It is our hope to reach a fair agreement that demonstrates our commitment to our valued nurses, while prioritizing community needs in light of on-going challenges being felt at Allina Health and throughout the non-profit health care industry. 

We have offered an economic package that includes a wage increase of 11% over the three years of the contract, as well as additional compensation benefits. We have also demonstrated our commitment to many of the union’s priority issues, such as diversity, equity and inclusion, safety and security, and recruitment and retention.

Our last bargaining session with the union was on August 11 and we look forward to another session on August 30. We are hopeful we will begin to see progress at the bargaining table and avoid possible work stoppages that do not benefit anyone."

Essential Health:

Essentia Health was scheduled to have bargaining sessions Monday, August 22, for its Moose Lake location, where more than 50 MNA nurses are employed. The hospital says a professional labor mediator is welcome to help them find common ground.

The next bargaining session for its Twin Ports location is scheduled for August 29. More than 1,300 MNA nurses work in the Twin Ports area.

St. Luke's:

St. Luke's says in a statement that they have requested "the use of a federal mediator to help us come to an agreement," several times, "mostly recently at our negotiating session last week." But, "MNA has repeatedly declined," St. Luke's says.

The next meeting with the MNA for their negotiating session is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Twin Cities Hospitals Group:

"The Twin Cities Hospitals Group is comprised of Methodist, North Memorial, Fairview, and Children's. Children's is talking on the 23rd, Methodist on the 24th, and Fairview's East contract on the 25th. (Fairview has two contracts, one for East metro, one for West metro.) North Memorial is scheduled for the 30th."

RELATED: Traveling nurses ready to fill in if Minnesota nurses strike

RELATED: Are hospitals prepared if 15,000 Minnesota nurses go on strike?

Before You Leave, Check This Out