Allina stonewalls Hastings nurses as contract talks continue

Nurses picket outside Regina Medical Center in advance of contract negotiations. (photo courtesy MNA)

Nurses picket outside Regina Medical Center in advance of contract negotiations. (photo courtesy MNA)

Negotiations on a new contract are dragging into the new year, but nurses at Regina Medical Center in Hastings, members of the Minnesota Nurses Association, continue to resist Allina Health’s effort to treat them differently than nurses in every other Allina hospital in the Twin Cities Metro Area.

The two sides returned to the bargaining table Jan. 24, but according to the MNA, Allina continued to insist on excluding Regina nurses from pension and health benefits extended to MNA members at other Allina facilities in the area.

Nurses say the disparity would have alarming implications for the level of nursing care Regina provides to the Hastings community.

“Their second-rate offers are an insult to nursing, nurses and, most all, this community,” Jane Traynor, a Regina nurse and chair of the MNA bargaining team, said after the negotiations broke down.

“We offered significant movement,” Traynor added. “We gave them a path to an honorable settlement, and they walked away.”

Regina nurses’ previous contract expired with the 2013 calendar year. This is the first contract Regina nurses have attempted to bargain since Allina purchased Regina last year.

The nurses received an outpouring of support from the community Jan. 21, when they staged informational picketing outside the hospital. Colleagues within the Allina system plan to stage a solidarity picket Feb. 14 outside Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

“This affects all of us, so make no mistake, we will stand by each other,” Diane Johnson, an Abbott Northwestern nurse, said. “We will make every nurse, every resource available to our colleagues in Hastings to stand up against corporate health care’s impact on our communities.”

Hastings nurses said they remain open to continued negotiations with Allina, and they requested additional bargaining dates with a federal mediator. Allina Health did not immediately respond to the request.

“We want to focus on our patients,” Traynor said. “We want a contract that respects our skills and our contributions to patient care in Hastings.”

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