The president of a major Minnesota union sent a letter this week to members enrolled in its health insurance plans urging them to “go elsewhere for health care” during the Allina strike.
Jennifer Christensen, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, cited concerns about “quality control” and patient safety at five Allina Health facilities in the Twin Cities where members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have been on strike since Sept. 5: Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, United and Unity hospitals and Phillips Eye Institute.
As it did during nurses’ seven-day strike in June, Allina has contracted replacement nurses from across the country to fill in for the 4,700 union members who regularly staff its facilities. The changeover was rocky in June, prompting patients and hospital staff to file about 40 complaints with state regulators, according to MNA.
Christensen, who serves as a trustee of two multi-employer health insurance plans that cover 7,000 people, questioned whether replacement nurses could uphold the high standards set by union nurses, or whether Allina’s facilities have “become so overwhelmed with so many new replacement nurses that quality care is no longer guaranteed.”
Local 1189 leaders say they plan to invite other unions that sponsor Taft Hartley plans to join them in advising members to consider alternatives to Allina until the provider gets serious about negotiating with its nurses.