Hundreds of mental health workers begin 1-day strike

Tuesday, more than 400 mental health workers are participating in a one-day strike.

A crowd could be seen outside of M Health Fairview early Tuesday morning.

Employees there, as well as at Allina Health, voted for a one-day walkout last Monday.

RELATED: Mental health workers at M Health Fairview, Allina vote to authorize a 1-day strike

The employees work as psychiatric associates, behavioral assistants and senior mental health coordinators at M Health Fairview, Abbott Northwestern and Unity Hospitals.

Employees say they haven’t been able to reach what they call a fair agreement on a first contract after unionizing last year.

They’re pushing for more mental health help and better pay, and add staffing levels aren’t keeping up with demands.

“I really wish it didn’t come to this because we are in a mental health crisis and we understand it effects our patients, but we really didn’t know what else to do and we really hope Fairview can come to the table,” said Eric Immler, a Psychiatric Associate.

Allina says they are prepared to continue providing care through the one day work stoppage.

Picket lines began at 6 a.m., and will run through 11 a.m. before a rally at M Health Fairview at 12 p.m.

M Health issued the following statement Tuesday morning:

“We have an unwavering commitment to our patients and employees to provide a workplace where everyone feeds safe, valued and support. Our psych associates, senior psych associates, and behavioral assistants are critical to our ability to provide high-quality care, especially as health care organizations here and across the country face a dual staffing and mental health crisis.

Thus far, we have negotiated in good faith with the Union to align on a contract that supports our employees and provides us with the flexibility we need to provide top-quality care to our patients. The Union proposes actions that violate our standards of care, and a patient’s privacy rights. These are items we cannot agree to, and unfortunately, we have not received a health and safety counterproposal from the Union since March. Despite negotiating with the Union 14 times since December 2021, we finally received their opening economic proposal four days after we received notice of a one-day strike. Receiving wage proposals right before a planned work stoppage left us with no time to negotiate, and didn’t give us the chance to avoid a work stoppage that doesn’t benefit anyone, especially our vulnerable patients.

It is our sincere hope that we quickly align on a contract that provides a fair wage, supports our employees, and provides us with the flexibility we need to provide top-quality care to our patients.”

M Health Fairview