MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Monday marks the start of a second week in the Allina nurses strike.
More than 4,000 nurses went on strike on Labor Day at Abbott Northwestern, The Phillips Eye Institute, Unity, United and Mercy Hospitals. Their union has been unable to reach a new, three-year contract with Allina Health.
Healthcare is the big issue. Allina wants to switch the nurses to plans that other Allina employees have. The union pushed back, saying the deductibles are too high.
“We want to be back inside,” nurse Angela Beccehetti said. “We are the most experienced and we should be with our patients.”
Beccehetti says she and other nurses thought they were close to a deal after a 22-hour negotiation session last weekend. She says all the nurses want is to serve their patients, and sitting down with Allina is the only way that will happen.
“Allina has not contacted us,” Beccehetti said. “I was there, and we told the mediator we were willing to negotiate that full weekend after the 22 hours, and Allina has not reached out to us.”
Allina says the first days of the strike involved a lot of talking and no progress, adding that it and the union have found much to agree on during the year’s negotiations.
Contract changes related to nurse hiring practices, scheduling, tuition reimbursement and security to ensure staff safety. Allina says when the union is truly ready to talk, it will contact Allina’s bargaining team either directly or through the mediator and propose a date to meet.
Meanwhile Allina claims nurses continue to cross the picket line to work, while the nurses union says some of its members are moving on, taking jobs at other hosptials.
“We’ve lost a lot of experienced nurses to other systems,” Beccehetti said. “North Memorial, Fairview Health East — a lot are leaving because they just don’t feel valued.”
The company released a statement Sunday saying in part, “Allina Health’s permanent employees and temporary nurses have come together to deliver the high-quality care that Allina Health is known for in each of our hospitals.”
However, striking nurses said they are hearing complaints about inadequate care from inexperienced replacements.
Some 1,500 replacement nurses have been staffing the 5 Allina hospitals impacted by the strike. Nurses say they will continue to walk the picket line and hope for new talks to settle the dispute.