Allina Health ‘not going to challenge’ clinic doctors’ vote to unionize

Allina Health not going to challenge clinic doctors’ vote to unionize

Allina Health not going to challenge clinic doctors' vote to unionize

Allina Health says it will not be challenging an effort to unionize by hundreds of its doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants employed at dozens of Minnesota clinics.

Objections were due by the end of the day on Friday, an Allina spokesperson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Sunday, adding, “We did not submit any.”

Allina Health and Doctors Council union organizers expect the National Labor Relations Board to certify the election results as early as Monday. If that happens, bargaining on an initial contract can begin.

“Nobody started this union because they wanted to leave Allina,” said Beth Gunhus, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Allina Health Inver Grove Heights Clinic. “We started this because we wanted to make what we do better.”

Gunhus has been in pediatrics for more than 30 years, and this year, she became a leader in the effort to organize what is poised to become the largest private-sector doctors union in the country.

“They told us that from the beginning, if you can make this happen, you will be starting what will probably be a little bit of a tidal wave.”

“This is a tidal wave. She’s exactly right,” agreed Doctors Council President and New York-based physician Dr. Frances Quee.

While the union has been around for decades, Dr. Quee said a shift to heavier-handed health care administration, starting with the pandemic, increased interest in union membership.

“The employers just look at productivity,” she continued. “‘How many patients did you see today?’ ‘How many patients are on your schedule?’ But there are a lot of other things that encompass how we see those patients.”

“It really does affect people’s care,” Gunhus added.

She has become a part of the second group of doctors in Minnesota history to vote to join the Doctors Council. The first effort also came from Allina Health doctors at its Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids in March.

Allina Health confirmed it is actively challenging that effort as of Sunday.

Additional details were not provided because it’s an active labor dispute, but Dr. Quee said this latest effort by clinic staff would be tougher to stop.

“The vote [by Mercy Hospital staff] was not as decisive as this vote, so they were able to challenge, but this was, like, a clean vote,” she explained.

We had over 60 clinics represented in the union membership that voted,” Gunhus shared, adding, “We had over 90% of the ballots returned… And I think, you know, if we could do that, I think they should know that we’re serious.”

Although Allina Health has decided against challenging the effort, leadership has said — in a statement a spokesperson referred back to on Sunday — that they are “disappointed in the decision by some of our providers to be represented by a union.”

“Our focus now,” the statement concluded, “is on moving forward to ensure the best interests of our employees, patients and the communities we serve.”

Allina Health declined an interview request on Sunday.

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