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Health care workers reach tentative agreement with Allina ahead of planned strike

Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota had planned to strike on May 10 if they couldn't reach consensus with the local employer.
Credit: KARE 11
The exterior of Mercy Hospital in 2016. (Photo courtesy: Heidi Wigdahl, KARE)

ST PAUL, Minn. — Days away from a planned strike, the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team said they reached a tentative agreement with Allina Healthcare Wednesday night. 

The SEIU team represents about 4,000 local health care workers employed across the Allina system at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Unity Hospital, Owatonna Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and United Hospital.

The deal will now head to members for a ratification vote with majority support from the bargaining team. In the coming weeks, the full membership will also have a chance to vote. 

The strike notices, approved on April 28, have been withdrawn while members vote on the new deal. 

The full details of the deal have not been released, but according to a press release from SEUI, some of the highlights include:

  • 5% pay increase over three years with 3% in the first year, including back pay
  • Additional market adjustments in the first year for non-metro hospitals i.e an additional .5% to members at Buffalo, St Francis and Owatonna, 1% for Surg Techs at Owatonna, PEI and Unity
  • 9% pension increase over three years of contract
  • Workplace Safety Improvements
  • Recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr Day and a commitment to equity and inclusion
  • Numerous other language changes on job vacancies, give-away shifts, scheduling provisions and more

"Our bargaining team discussed and debated on this offer, and we believe we won the best offer for our membership and our patients,” said Lynn Carlson, an LPN and a member of the bargaining team. “On wages, we were able to reach 5%, with 3% in the first year. I've been bargaining since 1980 and we haven't seen 3% with back pay since 2008. Our solidarity got us to this point and the majority of our bargaining team are recommending a yes vote.”

Earlier in the week, the union said one of the main sticking points that prompted the threat of a strike was Allina's refusing to let go of a proposed 0% pay increase. The union said the health care provider's negotiators simply moved the 0% raise from the first year of the contract to the second, while also refusing to address changes surrounding workplace safety and safe staffing. 

"Healthcare workers have given so much over the last year to keep our patients and communities safe during COVID. The fair pay and safe staffing proposals we are fighting for would be good for not just the 4,000 members, but for the people we spend every day caring for by ensuring we keep world-class staff," said EMT Gene Sparks, a member of the SEIU negotiating team.

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