Capping a week that saw fast food workers, bank tellers, students and other workers across the Twin Cities mobilize for higher wages, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota announced today that members have ratified a new contract with Allina that establishes a $15 minimum wage at seven Twin Cities hospitals.
Allina backed out of metro-wide negotiations between the union and hospital systems that resulted in a new, three-year contract for 3,000 workers in March. In informational picketing at several Allina hospitals March 25-26, workers said Allina was insisting on language that would allow hospitals to outsource their work to non-union subcontractors.
The contract with Allina, according to a press release by the union, provides employment security protections to prevent subcontracting.
It also includes health and safety protections for workers, wage increases in each year of the contract for all members, an increase in Allina’s contribution towards workers’ pension plan and a 25 percent increase in the amount of tuition reimbursement available to workers annually.
The new contract with Allina means 99.5 percent of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members working in 16 Twin Cities hospitals will earn $15 per hour or more, according to the union.
Allina workers had pushed for contract provisions that would minimize the potential for hospitals to be caught short-staffed, pointing to over 1,000 staffing emergencies – defined by Allina as any time a staff member works more than 120 hours in a two-week pay period – resulting from staff cuts in recent years.
Vivian Straumann, a Licensed Practical Nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul, pledged to continue the fight for safe staffing.
“This contract is a step forward for every union member, but there is a lot more that we need to do to improve patient care in our hospitals,” Straumann said. “We will not stop raising the issue of staffing levels until we are satisfied that we have the right number of people to keep ourselves, our patients and our hospitals safe. Staffing levels are directly linked to our patient’s health and our ability as frontline workers to deliver the highest quality of care possible. ”
The new contract covers over 3,000 Allina hospital workers, including nursing assistants; Environmental Services staff; cooks and dietary staff; Licensed Practical Nurses; X-ray, surgical, and sterile processing technicians and other workers at eight Allina hospitals, including Abbott-Northwestern, Buffalo, Mercy, Owatonna, St. Francis, United, Unity, and Phillips Eye Institute.