MNA members to begin strike Dec. 11; end dates vary throughout state

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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 the Union’s headquarters in St. Paul at 9 a.m. Thursday. There, officials said a strike is planned to start at 7 a.m. starting Dec. 11 and last through 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31.

That full news conference can be found in the video player below.

By law, the MNA is required to give hospitals a 10-day notice of a strike, which was done Thursday morning. Statements from area hospitals regarding the strike notice can be found lower 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 Wednesday to authorize a strike, union leaders made the final decision.

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

“We are in an unprecedented historical moment,” said Peter Rachleff, an emeritus professor of history at Macalester College. “First caused by the pandemic, secondly now in healthcare exacerbated by the early arrival of the flu and the RSV challenge in children. The healthcare system is under extroindary pressure.”

He explained the critical consequences of this potential strike could lead the parties to reach an agreement more quickly.

“In the world of labor relations and striking you want to have a possibility of it having an impact because that’s the way to push through an impasse and get to a new level of results,” said Rachleff.  “That’s when you want to negotiate a settlement, that’s when you want to get back to the bargaining table and reach an agreement.”

This planned strike comes just two and a half months after MNA members hit the picket line in mid-September.

“I think that the first strike that was really more of a demonstration or a protest was an attempt to get the public’s attention, to get the public thinking about staffing levels in hospitals, to think about the inequities in compensation compared to nurses, the need to improve compensation to recruit more nurses,” said Rachleff. “Whether this strike proves to be another demonstration, protest, get public opinion focus or whether it becomes a dug in battle really remains to be seen.”

Governor Tim Walz said, in part, on Thursday, “We’re engaged and have been with both of these entities and I think the promising thing I’m hopeful we’ll work this out, we’ve all in the healthcare space had to work incredibly closely together and we work literally between nurses and physicians and the researchers and the hospital CEOs on calls multiple times a week for basically two straight years.”

“I know now there’s a lot of tensions around healthcare in general and these providers that have been on the front lines are feeling that strain,” Walz added. “I’m still incredibly hopeful we can reach a deal here that provides the resources to the nurses they need and the finances that work for the hospitals.”

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

We are deeply disappointed by Minnesota Nurse’s Association’s choice to issue a strike notice when our community is experiencing a triple threat of illnesses – influenza, RSV and COVID – and before they have exhausted all available options to reach agreement. Providing the necessary care for our community during this surge of seasonal illness, in addition to the many other health care needs of our patients, has put 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 the community’s healthcare needs are high and at the risk of those who are depending on us for care.

MNA leadership continues to focus on disruption at the expense of spending meaningful time at the bargaining table. We have made some progress and believe we can reach agreement on the outstanding issues with focused negotiations.  Allina Health has repeatedly asked the union to join us in employing a neutral, independent mediator to help us resolve our remaining differences. 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 Dec. 2. While we are hopeful a deal can be reached, we want to assure the public that we have plans in place to continue caring for our community with as few disruptions 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”

Allina Health

“The 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 gaps remain, we are confident progress can continue to be made by remaining engaged at the table. It has barely been a week since the union finally agreed to bring expert mediators to assist the parties in reaching mutually agreeable solutions. Not one meeting with mediators has even occurred yet, but the union has elected to pursue a strike rather than settlement. It is clear that their recent statements in support of mediation were disingenuous. The nurses’ union has completely failed to give the mediation process time to work and instead has chosen to put the union’s agenda before the care of our patients.

Let us 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 they chose to issue their 10-day strike notices in the midst of the triple threat of illnesses, RSV, COVID and influenza, that are already stressing our health care system. The nurses’ union 10-day strike notices are completely contrary to the best interests of our patients and the communities we serve.  Their announcement today is entirely inconsistent with 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.

Over the coming 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 stress our hospitals will be open during this 10-day period although your care providers may need to reschedule non-critical care procedures. Our hospital leadership have robust contingency plans in place and will make adjustments as necessary to ensure continuity of care.

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

– Patients with emergent health care issues 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 regarding the scheduling of services.

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

– We are mindful that this 10-day strike notice can be disruptive to the services we provide, but Minnesota’s more than 120 non-profit hospitals will continue to work together to care for our fellow Minnesotans.

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

Twin Cities Hospitals Group

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

MNA officials say the decision is about their patients, and add since the last strike in September, which was three days long, conditions in hospitals have only gotten worse.

Nurse union leaders say one of their biggest concerns isn’t having adequate staffing in hospitals. They add nurses are being forced to take on what they call “un-safe assignments” and in some cases, are being disciplined for raising concerns.

In addition, the MNA tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this vote to authorize a strike is about making sure patients are safe – and they say Minnesota hospitals can’t continue to operate the way they are. Nurses have described overwhelmed emergency departments as “disaster zones”, with patients sometimes waiting six to eight hours for beds, and it is becoming the norm to work 16-hour shifts. They add they’re willing to negotiate, but the one issue they won’t settle on is staffing.

Wages are also a 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, a starting full-time nurse with a baccalaureate RN degree will earn $36.22/hr ($75,337/yr full-time). A nurse with 10 years of service will earn $51.36/hr ($106,828/yr full-time). The annual average salary across our metro hospitals is $46.48/hr ($96,675.88/yr full-time). It is important to note that there are step increases already built into our wage scales. A step increase is an increase in an employee’s rate of pay from one step of the scale to the next higher step based on years of service or hours worked.  In Allina Health’s MNA contracts, it is based on hours worked.  For instance, an employee on the “Start” step of the wage 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 pay nationally and the highest in the Midwest. At Allina Health we are proud of the highly competitive wage and total benefit package which includes incentives for overtime and holiday pay.

Allina Health

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

“Nurses in Minnesota rank among the most highly compensated in the nation, currently third highest among all nurses in the nation. The average Minnesota nurse earns $80,960 annually and receives generous health care and pension benefits. On top of their annual wage increase, nurses receive step increases based on hours worked.

Twin Cities Hospital Group

In the metro area, Twin Cities Hospital Group says they have five contracts at four systems and are all within one or two cents of the salaries paid to nurses at Allina locations.

St. Luke’s Hospital issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding Thursday’s negotiation session:

“We look forward to our negotiating session tomorrow (Thursday). While MNA has agreed to allow a mediator to observe, we remain hopeful that MNA will allow the mediator to participate in the process. We believe having a mediator is the 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 Tuesday:

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

Our nurses are an integral part of our care teams, and we are grateful for their ongoing dedication and expertise. We have always valued their perspective and involvement in key operational decisions. We have worked to find alignment on a number of priority issues and are narrowing the gap on our wage proposals. MNA is now seeking a 22.5% wage increase over the three years of the contract and we have increased our wage 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 illness and increased needs for care, our community is counting on all of us to provide the exceptional care they expect from Allina Health. We believe that a settlement is attainable and urge MNA to focus its energy on bringing these negotiations to conclusion rather than asking its members to consider another strike that our community can simply not afford. We are hopeful to continue to make meaningful progress at our next negotiation session this Friday, Dec. 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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