Moose Lake nurses to picket Tuesday, add to growing pressure on Minnesota hospitals

Nurses from Moose Lake Hospital are planning to picket from 12-5 p.m. Tuesday as they seek a fair first contract from Essentia Health.

According to the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), Essentia bought Moose Lake Hospital two years ago but immediately refused to honor nurses’ contracts.

Moose Lake nurses have lost bonuses, earned sick time and company retirement contributions as a result, MNA says.

“It is time for Essentia to approve a fair contract which will keep local, experienced nurses at the bedside here in Moose Lake,” said Sarah Lambert, Essentia-Moose Lake registered nurse.

MNA officials say nurses are asking for more predictable schedules, more staffing, improved retention efforts and higher wages.

Essentia Health expressed desire to reach a mutual agreement in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Tuesday:

We value our nurses and the role they play in helping to advance Essentia Health’s mission of making a healthy difference in people’s lives. We respect their right to conduct informational picketing as part of a labor union. During this time, our facilities will continue to serve the Moose Lake community with the commitment to excellence our patients expect from Essentia Health.

We are focusing on our discussions at the bargaining table because that is where solutions are found. Essentia will continue to negotiate in good faith, and we look forward to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

Our priority in everything we do is to continue providing our patients with the kind of expert care they expect and deserve.

Louie St. George III, Essentia Health external communications manager

The demands of Moose Lake nurses are similar to those of health care workers across the state, as several pickets have been held in the last month.

RELATED: Minnesota nurses picket over pay, patient care

RELATED: Informational picket being held by nurses in Hastings

An advertising campaign run by nurses, found here, is aimed at exposing the high salaries of hospital executives that MNA says do not prioritize patients’ needs.

Like previous pickets, Tuesday’s events are informational and will not affect hospital operations.