After March strike, MN Epilepsy Group workers settle contract that preserves longevity pay

Minnesota Epilepsy Group workers picketed outside the employer’s headquarters in Roseville on the last day of their March strike.

Union members at Minnesota Epilepsy Group (MEG) went on strike last March to defend the hard-fought, longevity-based wage scale in their contract.

This week they claimed victory, ratifying a new agreement that will continue rewarding workers for their longevity with the company.

The contract covers 60 EEG technologists, who provide brain-wave testing to patients at hospitals and clinics across the Twin Cities. They are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa.

Leah Olsen, a member of the union’s bargaining team who has been with MEG for 11 years, said she was proud that her union “stuck together, stood up for what is right and even went on strike” in a contract campaign that began last October.

“The biggest part of our fight was making sure we kept the wage scales in the contract that we’ve had for decades, and I’m so glad we won on that issue,” she said. “We showed through this process that we are united and that we will always fight for what is right for workers and patients.”

MEG workers’ five-day strike over unfair labor practices, which ended March 14, brought picket lines to several hospitals where EEG technicians provide services, including United Hospital in St. Paul and Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis.

At the time, MEG management was offering technicians annual wage increases of less than 1% and taking aim at the longevity-based wage steps that had been part of their union contract for decades.

MEG technicians rally on the last day of the ULP strike.

That didn’t sit well with union members, who voted unanimously in favor of authorizing the strike. On the picket line, workers called MEG’s approach to bargaining “insulting,” given that they had stuck with the employer through the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented staffing shortfalls.

Keeping the wage scale in place wasn’t the only win for union members in the new contract. It will also improve workers’ retirement benefits, guaranteeing an annual employer contribution of 3% of workers’ gross pay.

The contract also adds two new paid holidays, improves sick time accrual, enhances mileage reimbursement and increases shift differentials for members working night, evening, or charge-technician shifts.

Renee David, a senior EEG technologist with three years of experience at MEG, said the new contract is just a starting point.

“I’m proud we stood together to win this deal, but also know that we deserve much more than what we got,” David said. “As frontline health care workers, we will continue to advocate for the pay and respect we know we deserve so we can continue to provide world-class care to our patients.”

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