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Minnesota Nurses Association to vote on second strike authorization

The 15,000 union nurses at 15 hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin will vote Nov. 30. The vote could give MNA leaders the power to authorize another strike, following a three-day strike held in September, as they bargain for contracts.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association strike outside Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association strike outside Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior on Sept. 12.
Jed Carlson / 2022 file / Superior Telegram
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Nurses Association will vote Nov. 30 to potentially authorize another strike at 15 hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin. MNA announced Thursday morning the plans for the vote as they continue to bargain for new contracts.

Fifteen thousand nurses in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports held a three-day strike in September, which MNA leaders say did not persuade hospitals to settle contracts like they had hoped. MNA members have been negotiating for new contracts since March.

MNA President Mary C. Turner said very little progress has been made in negotiations between hospitals and union nurses since their strike two months ago. She said nurses are losing faith in the bargaining process.

"Our hospital leadership have failed," Turner said in a news conference. "They have failed us; they have failed the community. They have failed to solve the crisis conditions in our hospitals and they have failed to settle a fair contract with us."

Hospitals have continually asked MNA to bring in mediators to negotiations, which MNA has not yet agreed to do. Turner said "maybe" when asked if a mediator is part of MNA's planned next steps, stating it would be an option if the mediator stays at the common table with them and doesn't take away their ability to meet directly with the employer.

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Nurses walking on the picket line.
A Minnesota Nurses Association member gives two thumbs up to others walking the picket line outside St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth on Sept. 12. Approximately 15,000 nurses in the Twin Ports and Twin Cities went on strike Sept. 12.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune

If the nurses vote in favor of strike authorization, MNA leaders would have the power to give hospitals a 10-day notice before a strike. After the vote is taken, the dates, duration and hospitals involved in the strike would be discussed.

The following hospitals have MNA nurses who will vote on a potential strike:

  • M Health Fairview Riverside, Minneapolis
  • M Health Fairview Southdale, Edina
  • M Health Fairview St. Joseph's, St. Paul
  • M Health Fairview St. John's, Maplewood
  • Essentia Health St. Mary's, Duluth
  • Essentia Health St. Mary's, Superior, Wisconsin
  • HealthPartners Methodist, St. Louis Park
  • Allina Health Abbott Northwestern, Minneapolis
  • Allina Health Mercy, Coon Rapids
  • Allina Health United, St. Paul
  • Allina Health Unity, Fridley
  • Children's Minneapolis
  • Children's St. Paul
  • North Memorial, Robbinsdale
  • St. Luke's, Duluth

Duluth-based Essentia Health said in a statement it is "disappointed" to hear MNA is considering another strike, noting the health care system still believes it can come to an agreement at the bargaining table.
"As we saw earlier this year, a strike does not bring us closer to an agreement," Essentia's statement read. "Our history of years of successful negotiations shows us that the best solutions are found through productive dialogue at the bargaining table. We remain committed to that effort and expect the MNA to explore with us innovative solutions that work for our nurses and the communities that we serve.

"In the meantime, Essentia’s highest priority will remain the safety and well-being of our patients. "

Essentia posts details of each bargaining session at  essentiamnabargaining.org . Earlier this week, Essentia and MNA representatives discussed proposals for wages, staffing and shift bonuses. Their next bargaining session is scheduled for Dec. 1.

Duluth-based St. Luke's, as well as the Twin Cities Hospital Group, which includes Children’s Minnesota, North Memorial Health, Fairview Health and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital, said in statements the health systems are encouraged by Turner's statements about pursuing mediation.

"We have been requesting a mediator for more than six months, as we believe a mediator will help us reach a settlement," St. Luke's wrote in the statement. "We look forward to reaching a contract agreement that is fair to our employees, our patients and our communities as soon as possible."

"We, as the Twin Cities Hospitals Group, are committed to meeting as much as is practical to bargain through mediation to reach a contract settlement that is beneficial for both parties," the group's statement read. "Our nurses are valued partners in care and this principle is central to who we are as health systems and it extends to all our work in union negotiations. We share the desire for our nurses to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported. We will continue to bargain in good faith and work hard to reach a resolution.

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"We know the current situation inside hospitals throughout the country is very challenging and a union work stoppage could have disastrous consequences for our patients and the communities we serve."

This story was last updated at 4:32 p.m. Nov. 17 with comments from St. Luke's. It was originally posted at 11:28 a.m. Nov. 17.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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