MNA members begin strike December 11; closing dates vary across the state

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas, have voted to authorize a second strike.

Union leaders spoke about the results of the vote at Union headquarters in St. Paul at 9 Thursday. There, officials said a strike is scheduled to start at 7.00 from 11 December and last until

The full news conference can be viewed in the video player above.

By law, the MNA is required to give the hospitals 10 days’ notice of a strike, which was done on Thursday morning. Statements from the area’s hospitals regarding the strike notice can be found further down in this article.

The strike affects nurses at M Health Fairview, Essentia Health, Health Partners, Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, North Memorial and St. Luke’s. While MNA members voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday, union leaders made the final decision.

Meanwhile, nurses at St. Luke’s in Duluth and at Lake View Hospital in Two Harbors also to strike starting Dec. 11, but no end date has been announced.

Allina Health and Twin Cities Hospitals Group issued a statement Thursday morning regarding a 10-day strike notice from MNA, which can be found in its entirety below:

We are deeply disappointed by the Minnesota Nurse’s Association’s choice to issue a strike notice when our community is experiencing a triple threat of disease – influenza, RSV and COVID – and before they have exhausted all available options to reach an agreement. Providing the necessary care to our community during this wave of seasonal illness, in addition to the many other health needs of our patients, has placed unprecedented stress on Minnesota’s health care system. To be clear, the union is deciding to further withdraw critical health care resources at a time when community health needs are high and at risk to those who depend on us for care.

MNA leadership continues to focus on disruption at the expense of spending meaningful time at the negotiating table. We have made some progress and believe that we can reach agreement on the outstanding issues with focused negotiations. Allina Health has repeatedly asked the union to join us in hiring a neutral, independent mediator to help us resolve our remaining disagreements. The use of a mediator is a regular part of collective bargaining and a proven method of reaching agreement, as has happened with our previous successful negotiations.

Allina Health remains committed to reaching an agreement that reflects the valuable contributions of our nurses and will negotiate with the union again on December 2. While we hope an agreement can be reached, we want to reassure the public that we have plans in place to continue to care for our community with as little disruption to care as possible.

We will work directly with patients on any necessary adjustments to ensure continuity of care and will provide regular updates to our patients and communities over the coming days. For more information, please visit allinahealth.org.”

Allina Health

“Twin Cities Hospitals Group is shocked and deeply disappointed that the nurses’ union has once again chosen to issue 10-day strike notices throughout the metro and Duluth before exhausting all reasonable efforts to reach an agreement. Our negotiators have made progress in many areas, and while there are still gaps, we are confident that progress can continue to be made by staying engaged at the table. It is barely a week ago that the union finally agreed to bring in expert mediators to assist the parties in reaching mutually acceptable solutions. Not a single meeting with mediators has even taken place yet, but the union has chosen to pursue a strike rather than settlement. Clearly, their recent statements in support of mediation were disingenuous. The Union of Nurses has completely failed to give the mediation process time to work and has instead chosen to put the union’s agenda before the care of our patients.

Let’s be clear: the union’s choice to issue 10-day strike notices is theirs and theirs alone. The nurses were not forced to do this and chose to issue their 10-day strike notices amid the triple threat of diseases, RSV, COVID and influenza, which are already stressing our healthcare system. The nurses’ union 10-day strike notice is completely against the best interests of our patients and the communities we serve. Their announcement today completely contradicts their claim that they are acting to protect patients. Any claim to the contrary is false. We do not believe that our nurses support this radical action.

During the next 10 days, our negotiators will be available to negotiate in good faith and we will exhaust all means necessary to avoid a work stoppage. We expect the nurses’ union to do the same, including being fully engaged at all tables with a mediator.

We need to emphasize that our hospitals will be open during this 10-day period, although your care providers may need to reschedule non-critical treatment procedures. Our hospital management has robust contingency plans in place and will make adjustments as needed to ensure continuity of care.

The hospitals’ focus remains on serving our patients and our community. For the public, we offer the following during this 10-day period:

– Patients with acute health problems should continue to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

– Patients with non-emergent health care needs should work with their health care provider to plan services.

– As services are moved, patients may experience longer waiting times for services while care teams triage patients. We ask everyone for patience.

– We are aware that this 10-day strike notice may be disruptive to the services we provide, but Minnesota’s more than 120 not-for-profit hospitals will continue to work together to care for our fellow Minnesotans.

– We will provide regular updates to the public. CLICK HERE for more information.”

Twin Cities Hospitals Group

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to other hospitals in the area for comment on contract negotiations and will update this article when response becomes available. Children’s Minnesota will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. in response to the upcoming strike, and KSTP plans to live stream the event.

MNA officials say the decision is about their patients, adding that since the last strike in September, which was three days long, conditions in hospitals have only worsened.

Union leaders for nurses say one of their biggest concerns is that they are understaffed in hospitals. They add that nurses are forced to take on what they call “unsafe assignments” and in some cases are disciplined for raising concerns.

Additionally, MNA tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that this vote to authorize a strike is about making sure patients are safe – and they say Minnesota hospitals cannot continue to operate as they are. Nurses have described overwhelmed emergency departments as “disaster zones”, where patients sometimes wait six to eight hours for beds and working 16-hour shifts is becoming the norm. They add that they are willing to negotiate, but the only issue they will not settle on is personnel.

Wages are also part of the strike.

Allina Health provided the following salary information for nurses to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in September:

We looked at RN salaries at our metro hospitals. For example, an entry-level full-time nurse with a baccalaureate RN degree will earn $36.22/hour ($75,337/year at full-time). A nurse with 10 years of service will earn $51.36/hour ($106,828/year full-time). The annual average salary across our metro hospitals is $46.48/hour ($96,675.88/year full-time). It is important to note that incremental increases are already built into our pay scales. A step increase is an increase in an employee’s pay from one step on the scale to the next higher step based on seniority or hours worked. In Allina Health’s MNA contracts, it is based on hours worked. For example, an employee on the “Start” step of the pay scale will move to the “After 1 year” step when the employee has worked 2,080 hours.

Minnesota ranks among the highest for average RN salary nationally and the highest in the Midwest. At Allina Health, we pride ourselves on the highly competitive salary and total benefits package, which includes incentives for overtime and vacation pay.

Allina Health

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted Twin Cities Hospital Group regarding salary information for nurses and received the following statewide data:

“Nurses in Minnesota are among the highest compensated in the nation, currently third highest among all nurses in the nation. The average Minnesota nurse earns $80,960 annually and receives generous healthcare and retirement benefits. In addition to their annual salary increase, nurses receive step increases based on hours worked.

Twin Cities Hospital Group

In the metro area, Twin Cities Hospital Group says it has five contracts in four systems and all are within a cent or two of the wages paid to nurses at the Allina locations.

St. Luke’s Hospital issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding Thursday’s bargaining meeting:

“We look forward to our negotiation meeting tomorrow (Thursday). Although the MNA has agreed to allow a mediator to observe, we remain hopeful that the MNA will allow the mediator to participate in the process. We believe that having a mediator is next best step toward reaching an agreement and avoiding a strike. We know our nurses want to be at the bedside doing what they do best: caring for patients.”

St. Luke’s Hospital

Allina Health had issued this statement on Tuesday:

Throughout Allina Health’s negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), our message has remained the same: An agreement can only be reached by being at the negotiating table together.

Our nurses are an integral part of our care teams and we are grateful for their continued commitment and expertise. We have always valued their perspective and involvement in key operational decisions. We have worked to find alignment in a number of priority topics and are narrowing the gap on our salary proposal. MNA is now seeking a salary increase of 22.5% over the three years of the contract and we have increased our salary proposal to 13.25% over three years.

A strike, or even the threat of a strike, creates an unnecessary distraction for our employees and the communities we serve. With escalating disease and increased needs for care, our community is counting on us all to provide the exceptional care they expect from Allina Health. We believe a settlement is achievable and urge the MNA to focus its energies on bringing these negotiations to a conclusion rather than asking its members to consider another strike that our community simply cannot afford. We hope to continue to make meaningful progress at our next bargaining meeting on Friday, December 2, as it is our desire to reach a fair contract settlement and return our sole focus to our shared mission: caring for our patients.

Allina Health

Check back for updates.

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