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Minnesota nurses to vote on contract offer, strike authorization

By staff |
August 2, 2016
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Minneapolis, MN - Contract negotiations ended Aug. 1, when nurses received another offer from Allina Health that eliminates all four of their contract health insurance plans. The nurses’ negotiations team will take the offer to the membership to vote to accept or reject later this month.

At the opening of the August 1 negotiations session, the nurse negotiating team resubmitted the proposal from July 22 that met the hospital company half way by ending two of the four contract health insurance plans. Nurses have been negotiating a new three-year contract with Allina since February.

“We met Allina halfway, and that’s as far as nurses will go,” said Angela Becchetti, a registered nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. “We’ve bargained in good faith with Allina for six months now, even when they haven’t.”

MNA filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over Allina’s refusal to provide information about the costs of the health insurance plans. Nurses have been asking Allina what parts of the plans are so costly that they need elimination. Allina has continually refused to provide critical data for negotiations, which prompted nurses to stage a seven-day strike that started on June 19.

“Nurses don’t want to strike again,” Becchetti said, “but they’re angry over how Allina has treated them during these negotiations. Now, they just want an offer to vote on.”

Allina responded by proposing to cut two of the nurses’ health plans immediately, and ending the Choice and Advantage plans when they dip below 1000 participants. Allina would also cause nurses to bear the brunt of all future premium increases, which would force them to opt out of those two remaining plans.

“Allina still gets to decide how much the plans cost,” Becchetti said. “They can price the plans out of existence and still not tell us what causes them to go up. They’re putting our health plans on an expensive death spiral.”

A separate vote will take place at each of Allina’s five metro facilities: Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United, and Unity hospitals. Nurses will vote to accept or reject the offer. A vote to reject the offer is also a vote to authorize another strike. If a super-majority of no votes is reached, the nurses’ negotiating team decides the length of any strike as well as the start date.

“The strike brought nurses together,” Becchetti said. “And everything Allina has told us has only unified us even more. Nurses are prepared to protect their benefits.”