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Nurses reject contract offer, strike continues

By staff |
October 4, 2016
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Striking nurses on the picket line.
Striking nurses on the picket line. (Fight Back! News / Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - A majority of the striking nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association voted Oct. 3 to reject the latest contract by Allina Health. Nurses from Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United, and Unity hospitals will continue their open-ended Unfair Labor Practice strike.

The nurses’ negotiating team decided to bring Allina’s proposal, which they received at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, to a member vote, but the team did not issue a recommendation on whether to vote yes or no.

“In order to get some sort of monetary safety net to protect nurses moving to Allina’s high-deductible health plans, they were asking us to give more away,” said Abbott Northwestern Hospital Registered Nurse and Negotiating Team Member Angela Becchetti, “The nurses saw through that.”

Nurses told Allina negotiators about the continued problems with staffing and proposed to free the charge nurse from a dedicated patient assignment. Allina responded with a staffing committee to look at the issue.

“The nurses felt that although some progress was made in negotiations with Allina it wasn’t enough progress,” Becchetti said. “Nurses felt that the proposal took more away from nurses than it offered. Nurses said they would end their affordable healthcare plans in the year 2020, but they haven’t been adequately compensated for it.”

Other facets of the Allina proposal included a full-time security guard in the emergency rooms, face-to-face workplace safety training, a staffing committee, retention bonus, and an HSA/HRA account.

The vote result means the strike will continue, and both sides will have to return to the bargaining table to hammer out a deal. There are no plans at this time when that could happen.

“If Allina felt that nurses would accept anything just to return to work in October and get our health insurance back, they were mistaken,” Becchetti said. “This vote should tell Allina that nurses are strong and willing to hold out for a contract that respects their sacrifice and their profession.”