Laser focused on cutting health care, Allina turns deaf ear to nurses’ safety concerns

Abbott Northwestern nurse and MNA spokesperson Angel Becchetti speaks at a press conference on nurses' safety proposals.

Abbott Northwestern nurse and MNA spokesperson Angela Becchetti calls on Allina to respond to nurses’ proposals to improve their safety on the job.


When Celeste Kopacek’s patient in the neuroscience unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital told her he was going home to get his gun and would come back to find her, she reported the threat to Allina security.

“They told me to call back if he showed up,” Kopacek said.

Since contract negotiations with Allina began in February, nurses at five metro-area Allina facilities have made several proposals aimed at improving their safety on the job.

Erinn Olson (L) and Celeste Kopacek display a partial list of the attacks Kopacek has suffered while working as an Abbott nurse.

Erinn Olson (L) and Celeste Kopacek display a partial list of the attacks Kopacek has suffered while working as an Abbott nurse.

Allina has refused to respond to those proposals, nurses said at press conference today outside Abbott Northwestern. Instead, the not-for-profit corporation has focused almost exclusively on slashing nurses’ health insurance.

“We’ve made a compromise on their issue,” Abbott Northwestern nurse Angela Becchetti said, referencing steep concessions nurses accepted in last-ditch negotiations before beginning their open-ended strike Sept. 5. “They haven’t made a compromise on ours.”

Nurses want a heightened security presence in their facilities to reduce response times when patients become violent or dangerous. Nurses have seen an uptick in such incidents over the last 10 years, in part, because of untreated mental illness, opioid addiction and other substance-abuse issues.

Nurses also want Allina to provide counseling and paid time off to nurses who are victims of violent incidents, as well as more training in how to diffuse them before they begin.

“We need more than two hours of training,” said Erinn Olson, Kopacek’s colleague in the Abbott neuroscience unit.

About 4,700 Allina nurses are on strike at Abbott Northwestern, United, Unity and Mercy hospitals, as well as Phillips Eye Institute.

“Every single one of them has at least five stories,” Kopacek said, of being attacked or threatened on the job. “To not feel safe at work is unacceptable.”


  1. […] on a three-year contract proposal from Allina that makes some gains on staffing and safety – two of their top issues – but wasn’t good enough to win a recommendation from the union’s bargaining […]

  2. […] About 4,700 members of the Minnesota Nurses Association employed at five Allina facilities in the Twin Cities have been on strike since Labor Day, their second strike of 2016. They voted Monday to reject the provider’s most recent contract proposal, saying it did not do enough to contain health insurance costs or address safety-related staffing concerns. […]

  3. […] of three labor-management bodies to give nurses a greater voice over health insurance benefits, workplace safety and […]

  4. […] The contract, ratified by a majority vote, phases out nurses’ preferred health insurance plans – Allina’s top priority in negotiations. […]

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