Minnesota nurses’ union gives notice of strike plans

September 1, 2022 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Union leaders representing some 15,000 Minnesota nurses said Thursday members will strike for three days beginning Sept. 12 if labor agreements cannot be reached.

The strike notice follows weeks of unsuccessful negotiations and involves seven health care systems in the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Nurses have taken issue with not only wages, but staffing levels which they say are dangerously low and with support following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minnesota Nurses Association says that unless benefits are substantially improved, the continued loss of nurses will leave hospitals vulnerable.

“They need to see it as the crisis that it is,” union president Mary Turner said. “We’ve said over and over that this isn’t something we do lightly but were not going to just sit back and do nothing. We can’t.”

Hospitals have argued that the proposals by the union and its nurses are too costly. The nurses are seeking more than 30% increases in compensation by the end of the three-year contract while the hospitals have offered 10% to 12%.

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“It just isn’t a realistic number,” said Paul Omodt, a spokesperson for several of the negotiating Twin Cities hospitals. Allina and Fairview hospitals are posting operating losses so far this year, the Star Tribune reported.

Union officials say 15 hospitals and would be affected by the strike, including those operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it’s Essentia and St Luke’s.

When Minnesota nurses went on a one-day strike in 2010, hospitals hired 2,800 replacement nurses, called in extra non-union staff and reduced patient levels. Some hospitals rescheduled elective surgeries.