In fight with Allina over health insurance, nurses not backing down


Nurses stage informational picketing outside Allina Commons in Minneapolis.


In contract negotiations with Allina, union nurses are standing together to defend their health insurance. And outside the health care provider’s Minneapolis headquarters today, the community showed it’s standing with nurses.

Informational picketing of Allina Commons drew hundreds of nurses, who arrived in busloads from five metro-area Allina facilities. Supporters from the community, including members of several other unions, also walked the picket line in solidarity.

Bill McCarthy, president of the 300,000-member Minnesota AFL-CIO, assured Allina nurses they are not fighting alone. “Our message to Allina,” McCarthy said, “is take care of the nurses who take care of you.”

[Sign a petition in support of nurses at]

Allina opened contract talks with about 5,000 nurses at Unity, United, Abbott Northwestern and Mercy hospitals, as well as Phillips Eye Institute, in February. Three bargaining sessions, including one tomorrow, are scheduled before the nurses’ current contract expires June 1.

web.MNA-Allina-vertical‘It ain’t about money’

From the outset, union leaders say, Allina has sought to eliminate four union-sponsored health insurance plans and move all nurses into Allina’s “core” plans, which offer lower premiums but significantly higher deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs. Allina says the move would save $10 million, according to Minnesota Nurses Association Director Rose Roach.

“We’ve asked Allina, is the company in trouble?” Roach said during the rally. “Do we need to cut costs to pay the rent or keep the lights on? They say no, the company’s doing just fine.”

“So don’t kid yourself, it ain’t about money,” Roach added. “They’re stashing money in investment portfolios and offshore accounts, but they want you to go without good health care plans. We have fought hard for those benefits that we have in the contract, and we’re not going to let them slip away.”

Two members of the MNA’s bargaining team also spoke at the rally, shedding light on the importance of keeping the union-sponsored plans.

Angela Becchetti, a nurse at Abbott Northwestern said she experienced complications both times she gave birth, resulting in medical bills in excess of $90,000. Under Allina’s health plans, Becchetti’s family would have paid about $12,000 in out-of-pocket costs, she said.

“I would have had to come back to work sooner,” Becchetti said. “I could not have spent time with my family during that critical time.”

Becchetti’s colleague at Abbott Northwestern, Margaret Blissenbach, called herself “a living example of why we must preserve our MNA insurance plans.” A cancer survivor, Blissenbach’s treatment included prescriptions that cost over $20,000 per dosage.

“Our insurance plan, thanks to our union, has been a life-saver for me,” Blissenbach said. “Ask yourself, ‘Would a $10,000 or even a $20,000 health spending account mean anything if one of your drugs alone cost $23,000?”


MNA President Mary Turner speaks on the informational picket line outside Allina Commons.


‘Going rogue’

Allina nurses voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s proposal to eliminate the MNA plans in February, but the provider hasn’t let go of the demand at the bargaining table since then.

That puts Allina on something of an island among Twin Cities hospital systems. Allina dropped out of metro-wide negotiations that resulted in a new contract for about 7,000 nurses at five hospital systems earlier this year – a contract that includes MNA insurance options.

“This is a case of Allina going rogue,” MNA President Mary Turner, a nurse at North Memorial in Robbinsdale, said.

Whether the display of solidarity among nurses and the community convinces Allina to soften its stance at the bargaining table remains to be seen, but Pastor Jonathan Zielske of Salem English Lutheran Church said nurses won’t have any trouble winning public support in their fight for quality insurance options.

“Allina is getting out of alignment with their own name, their own calling,” Zielske said. “They’re supposed to be all about health.”


  1. John Slade says:

    This article got cut off?

  2. Michelle says:

    Thank you Pastor Zielske for your support and meaningful words!!
    Allina is truly misaligned with a reputation of integrity! Instead of taking this extraordinary opportunity and endearing themselves to the community of people they serve (more accurate is to say the community that serves them)-they are publicly showing that they are completely non-concerned and care only for their profit margins. Check the Allina creed of care and respect. This doesn’t match up!!!
    And thank you to all the other unions that stand with us! From the bottom of my heart!

  3. They’re just testing the waters to see what concessions they can get so that in 3 years the other hospital systems can do the same. The hospitals knew that there would be a shortage of travelers this summer so they chose to just negotiate for wages this time around while waiting to see what happens with Allina. Stay strong Allina nurses for yourselves and the rest of us!


  1. […] Tolbert marched to the picket line from City Hall after today’s council meeting with Council President Russ Stark (W-4) and council members Dai Thao (W-1), Amy Brendmoen (W-5), Dan Bostrom (W-6) and Jane Prince (W-7). Thao, whose daughter has been convalescing for over a month at nearby Children’s Hospital, said nurses deserve better treatment than they are getting from Allina, which wants to take away their quality, affordable health insurance options. […]

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