MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of nurses are walking the picket line after failing to reach an agreement with Allina Health.
The nurses went on strike at 7 a.m. Monday. Within minutes, Allina had replacement nurses working with patients at all five hospitals impacted by the strike. The Minnesota Nurses Association says the key issues include health insurance, workplace safety and staffing levels.
More than 1,500 nurses, along with supporters of the Minnesota Nurses Association, are walking the picket line here and at four other Allina Hospitals across the Twin Cities. These nurses say they are prepared to stay the course until Allina is ready to put patient care above profit.
These nurses say they would rather be by the bedside of their patients than walking a picket line.
“We are here because we were forced to be here by Allina,” Rose Roach with the Minnesota Nurses Association said.
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association negotiating team say after 22 hours of talks they were willing to compromise but they say Allina kept asking for more.
“We were willing to do a transition into their health plans, which they have said this whole negotiation is about having us do that. We put on the table a willingness to transition into those plans and that still wasn’t enough,” Roach said. “They kept moving the goal post over and over again during that entire 22 hour period.”
These nurses say this work stoppage is about more than health care, safety and staffing levels.
“They clearly want to break the back of the nurse’s union. They want to take away the voice of these nurses to advocate for their patients,” Roach said.
“We’ve contracted with about 1,500 replacement nurses. Of these, about half are nurses who worked in our hospitals during the strike in June. Many of those nurses are working in the same areas where they worked before,” David Kanihan with Allina Health said.
Allina officials says around 375 nurses from MNA have decided to work instead of strike. They say its latest offer to the union was beyond fair. The big sticking point is how much nurses should contribute to the cost of their health care.
Allina says it would love to get back to the table for talks but at this hour, there are no talks scheduled between Allina and the Minnesota Nurses Association.