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Hospital Workers Union Votes To Authorize Strike

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Talks between eight Twin Cities hospitals and thousands of employees are underway in an effort to reach a new contract and avert a walkout.

The 3,500 members of the Service Employees International Union voted over the past few days, with 91 percent of union members voting in favor of authorizing a strike.

The eight Twin Cities hospitals a strike would affect include Bethesda, Fairview Riverside, Fairview Southdale, Methodist, St. John’s, North Memorial and Children’s Hospitals in both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The strike would last from two to five days. The union members include nursing assistants, technicians and support staff.

Jeremiah Whitten, spokesperson for the hospitals that would be affected, issued a statement: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the vote. Throughout the negotiations we have worked to achieve a contract that is fair to both sides.”

Whitten continued, “We’re looking forward to resuming negotiations today.”

Both sides are going back to the negotiating table Wednesday in hopes of stopping the walk-out. Legally, SEIU has to wait 10 days before they strike.

The two sides have been negotiating since January. The major issues have been wages and health insurance; the hospitals want the workers to contribute more toward their coverage.

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