Historic 3-day nurse strike begins Monday

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It’s now official—the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) says there will be a three-day strike that begins Monday morning.

“We are going to see a strike,” says Mary Turner, the MNA president. “We are going to see a historic strike, close to 15,000 nurses.”

The walkout will affect sixteen hospitals statewide.

Those medical facilities have pledged to stay open and continue treating patients during the strike.

“The talks ended around midnight last night at most of the hospitals,” says Paul Omodt, a spokesperson for Twin Cities Hospitals Group. “The nurses left without kind of anything on the table we could agree to.”

Negotiations between the union and seven major healthcare providers had been going on for five months.

Those providers include M Health Fairview, Essentia Health, Healthpartners, Allina Health, Children’s Minnesota, North Memorial, and St. Luke’s.

Turner says staffing grids—how many people working in various areas of a hospital—were a major issue.

“You know it’s not about money, if it was about money, they wouldn’t be wasting money on the replacement nurses,” she says. “It’s about control.”

The union says its other top priorities are about workplace violence and retention.

But the issue of pay raises has also been a point of disagreement.

“They left with wage demands at 29% to 30%, which we’ve told them repeatedly is unreasonable and is unaffordable,” Omodt says.

“The moral of the story is they were expecting us to go down, down, down, without any indication of how far down we have to go,” Turner notes. “In this wage war it needs to be fair is fair. It needs to be a collaborative effort.”

Meanwhile, healthcare providers say they will continue to stay open.

Allina Health issued a statement Sunday which says in part: “Allina Health has been thoughtfully planning for months. We intentionally have built flexibility into our plans and continuously evaluate our operations.”

Essentia Health also issued a statement, saying: “We want to assure our patients that our hospitals will remain open and accessible during a strike. We have extensive contingency plans in place to deliver the highest standards of care.”

Children’s Minnesota says it’s had plans in place for months, including national recruiting of registered nurses “who are experienced and specially trained in pediatric care.”

Twin Cities Hospitals Group says it has replacement staff ready to work in the morning.  

“The hospitals will be open—they’ll be open at 7 a.m.,” Omodt says. “We’ve brought in replacement nurses that will work alongside our trained management nurses and our experienced nurses will be there.”  

Medical providers say a small number of elective surgeries, and appointments already set up may need to be re-scheduled—they say the patients will be contacted directly if there are any changes.

In 2016, 4000 Allina Health nurses went on strike two separate times for a total of forty-four days.

Six years before that, there was a one-day nurses strike at fourteen providers in the metro.

The strike officially begins at 7 a.m. Monday.

The union says this will be a three-day walkout.

What happens after that is uncertain.

“We hope we go back to bargaining,” Turner says. “You know I can’t say any strategy that would occur after that, except for the fact we would hope they would have us back to the table.”

Children’s Minnesota says it’s had plans in place for months including national recruiting of registered nurses.

Medical providers say a small number of elective surgeries and appointments already set up may need to be re-scheduled they say they’ll reach out to patients. 

In 2016, 4,000 Allina health nurses went on strike for 44 days.

In 2010, there was a one-day strike at 14 providers in the metro.

The strike Monday officially begins at 7 a.m.