About 4,800 Allina Health nurses will strike after again failing to reach a contract negotiation with the system.
The nurses, represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, part of National Nurses United, voted Friday to begin their open-ended strike Labor Day. The strike represents nurses at five Allina hospitals: Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis, Mercy in Coon Rapids, Unity in Fridley, Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, and United in St. Paul.
The decision to strike follows a failed negotiation session this week with Allina. The unionized nurses and executives at the 13-hospital system have been negotiating new contracts since February. The nurses' contract expired in May with no new deal, which led to a seven-day strike at the end of June. The strike cost Allina Health $20.4 million in temporary labor charges and other costs.
The main dispute is Allina's proposal to transition its nurses to the same health plans offered to all of its employees. Allina wants to move nurses into plans with lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket spending. The nurses oppose the plans and prefer their current health plans that have higher premiums but little to no cost-sharing. The nurses at those five hospitals currently have a health plan that is 20 years old.
Allina has offered to retain the popular plans for existing nurses but cap any cost increases for Allina. Newly hired nurses would be enrolled in the newer plans. But the nurses and executives couldn't reach an agreement on how much nurses should pay in future cost increases.
A prepared statement from Allina Health said, “The union's actions bring us no closer to a settlement and do a disservice not only to nurses but to all Allina Health employees and, most importantly, to our patients … It is now abundantly clear the union's first priority is staging another strike, not reaching a solution.”
The nurses also want more safety training to deal with violent patients and changes made to staffing so nurses can go on breaks more easily.
The 10-day notice allows time for Allina to replace the lost staff since the strike doesn't have an end date scheduled. In a news release, Rose Roach, executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association said, "These nurses have never felt more disrespected and more devalued by this employer in their entire careers. They are mad."