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Minnesota Nurses Association votes in favor of second strike

MNA leaders have the authority to give hospitals a 10-day notice of a strike. The nurses previously held a three-day strike in September.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association strike outside of Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association strike outside of Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital along Tower Avenue in Superior on Monday morning, Sept. 12, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — More than 15,000 nurses in the Minnesota Nurses Association voted Wednesday in favor of authorizing a unfair labor practice strike at 16 Minnesota hospitals, MNA announced late Wednesday. Hospitals in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Superior and Two Harbors voted for the strike.

The vote gives MNA leadership the power to give hospitals a 10-day notice before striking. According to the release, nurses "overwhelmingly" voted in favor of authorizing the strike amid months-long contract negotiations. At least a two-thirds majority was needed for the vote to pass.

Hospitals that voted and could be impacted by a strike are:

  • 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
  • St. Luke's Lake View, Two Harbors

Twin Cities nurses' contracts expired May 31, and Twin Ports nurses' contracts expired June 30. The contracts of Lake View nurses in Two Harbors expired in September. All hospitals listed above, except St. Luke's Lake View, had MNA nurses strike for three days in September.
Both Duluth-based hospitals, Essentia and St. Luke's, have bargaining sessions scheduled for Thursday. Earlier this week, Essentia and Moose Lake nurses reached a tentative agreement on a contract that had been in negotiations since 2020. In a post on Essentia's bargaining website, the hospital stated it hopes to build on the momentum from the Moose Lake agreement during Thursday's session with Twin Ports nurses.

In a memo sent to Essentia's East Market earlier this week, Chief Human Resources Officer Diane Davidson wrote that reaching an agreement with MNA is the hospital's priority, and a strike is not in anyone's best interest.

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"We know from earlier this year that a strike can take an emotional toll on our nurses and other Essentia Health colleagues — and does not bring us closer to an agreement," the memo read. "... we are calling on MNA leadership to allow good-faith negotiations to continue without a work stoppage, so we may find the sustainable, innovative solutions we need for our nurses and the communities we are privileged to serve — now and in the future."

St. Luke's also released a statement in advance of the vote announcement on Wednesday:

"We look forward to our negotiating session tomorrow. 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."

MNA members have discussed various reasons for supporting a strike, including unsafe working conditions, burnout and uneven distribution of hospital money toward employee salaries and building expansions.

If MNA does plan to strike, a required 10-day notice will be given to all impacted hospitals.

“Our hospitals are in crisis, and our CEOs have failed nurses and patients," said Mary C. Turner, RN at North Memorial Hospital and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. "They have failed to solve the crisis of patient care, and they have failed to solve the crisis of working conditions pushing nurses away from the bedside. Nurses are fighting to win contracts that will help nurses stay on the job to provide patients with the exceptional care they deserve."

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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