In bargaining initiated by a federal mediator last Friday, Allina refused to budge from its demand that nurses give up their quality health insurance, setting the stage for 5,000 nurses at five Twin Cities health facilities to begin a weeklong strike Sunday morning.
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association plan to erect picket lines outside Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, United and Unity hospitals, as well as Phillips Eye Institute, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day until the strike’s scheduled end June 25.
Supporters are welcome – and appreciated – on the picket line, according to the union. MNA has posted a sign-up form for picketers at allinastrike.com.
Nurses are also asking supporters to sign onto a petition asking to Allina to drop its efforts to shift $10 million in health care costs onto nurses and their families. The petition is online at nursesneedcare2.com.
Allina nurses’ previous collective bargaining agreement expired May 31, and an “overwhelming” majority – more than two-thirds of voting members – voted June 6 to reject the health care provider’s “complete offer” and authorize the bargaining team to call a strike.
“Nurses are prepared to send a week-long message to Allina,” Abbott Northwestern nurse Angela Becchetti said. “This contract is about more than just health insurance. It’s about the staffing our patients receive. It’s about the safety of our fellow nurses from assault. It’s about the care our families depend on.”
Under the National Labor Relations Act, union members can engage in an unfair labor practice strike without fear of retaliation. The nurses’ employment is protected under federal law.
In addition to the standoff over nurses’ health insurance options, nurses have protested Allina’s unwillingness to respond to their proposals on workplace violence and staffing issues, as well as provide needed information to counter the employer’s proposal to eliminate the health plans.