Open-ended Unfair Labor Practice Strike Begins
For Immediate Release
Minneapolis – September 5, 2016 - Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association turned out in huge numbers to begin an open-ended Unfair Labor Practice strike on Allina Health hospitals and Allina headquarters today. Nurses began picketing at 7 a.m. and will continue until 7 p.m. at Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United, and Unity hospitals. Some facilities will see round-the-clock picketing.
“Nurses saw how Allina Health behaved at the table," said Angela Becchetti, Registered Nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and member of the nurses' negotiating team. "Just like a bully, Allina demanded nurses give up their affordable health insurance plans, and when we agreed to phase them out, they wanted more."
Negotiations ended in the early hours of Saturday, September 3, when Allina Health negotiators told federal mediators they were leaving. The nurses' negotiating team made the last proposal at 5:15 a.m., but Allina left without sending a response.
"We were so close," Becchetti said. "We were a few dollars apart and a few words to clarify that nurses' benefits wouldn't be cut or diminished. We just asked that nurses be able to verify the value of our insurance plans with our own accountants, not just Allina's."
Nurses and hospital negotiators agreed on several things in the last negotiating session, including providing a 24-hour security guard in the emergency rooms to protect nurses and patients and to allow new nurses into the contract health plans for a limited time. MNA nurses thought a tentative agreement could still be reached, which would have averted a strike.
"Allina Health has been asking to terminate the nurses health plans, and the nurses were willing to allow them to be phased out," said Rose Roach, MNA executive director. "But Allina must have felt they had a weak victim in the nurses, because they raised the price of an agreement by asking for more concessions. This is what happens when the profit mindset takes over healthcare. Allina is the EpiPen of hospitals."
Nurses will continue to strike Allina hospitals until an agreement is reached. They have received the help and support of other unions and workers. Teachers, paramedics, and communications workers have agreed to picket Allina facilities as well. Some delivery drivers are stopping at the nurses' picket line and telling Allina management to come out and drive the delivery vehicles into the hospital. No new negotiations have been set.