In tough talks with Allina, Teamsters win wage increases, avoid strike

Allina Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment workers prepared for a strike just days before ratifying a last-minute contract Saturday. (Local 120 photo)

Allina Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment workers prepared for a strike just days before ratifying a last-minute contract Saturday. (Local 120 photo)

Members of Teamsters Local 120 who provide home-delivery of oxygen and medical equipment for Allina Health ratified a new contract Saturday, narrowly avoiding a work stoppage.

Frustrated by management’s refusal to consider meaningful wage increases in negotiating sessions last month, the 42 members of Local 120 unanimously authorized their bargaining team to call a strike as early as today.

As workers gathered at union headquarters to assemble picket signs last week, Allina reached out with an improved offer, staving off a strike in the 11th hour.

Throughout bargaining, according to Local 120, workers held firm to their stance that they deserve a raise – especially after agreeing to take no wage increases in four of the last six years, helping Allina ride out a change in Medicare reimbursement rates.

But Allina’s negotiators refused to budge from wage proposals that would hardly have kept pace with inflation, and they even proposed language to make it easier for Allina to contract out Teamsters’ work. Local 120 President Tom Erickson called the health system’s initial offers shameful.

“This is a company that makes profits around $300 million a year and calls themselves a ‘non-profit’ to avoid paying taxes,” Erickson said. “This local is behind our members at Allina 100 percent.”

The 42 Teamsters deliver and set up oxygen tanks, CPAP masks and other medical equipment for Allina’s home-care and hospice patients. Allina Health Home Oxygen and Medical Equipment is headquartered in St. Paul.

Teamsters aren’t the only ones who’ve been feeling squeezed in contract negotiations with Allina. About 5,000 nurses remain in bargaining with Allina on a contract covering the system’s metro-area hospitals.

According to the Minnesota Nurses Association, management wants to eliminate nurses’ union-sponsored health insurance plans and replace them with higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. Allina also is resisting nurses’ efforts to ensure safe staffing levels in its hospitals.

Click here to sign a petition in support of union nurses at Allina.

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