MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Nurses Association expects the ongoing Allina Health nurses strike to be the longest of its kind in state history.
More than 4,000 nurses from five metro area hospitals — Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, United Hospital and Unity Hospital — have been on strike for one month.
The union will have to bring another proposal to the table after rejecting the latest offer for a contract from Allina Health late Monday night.
There is no set date yet for another round of negotiation.
MNA member Angela Becchetti is one of thousands of nurses who have been out of work for a month, picketing outside Abbott Northwestern, and looking for spare work when they can.
“The Ryder Cup was a big common one for nurses, Uber is a big common one,” Becchetti said. “We gave as much as we could and they kept wanting to take more back from us, and it wasn’t a fair compensation for us.”
As of Oct. 1, the nurses’ union was on strike for so long that members also lost their insurance; many relying on COBRA and MNsure until a compromise can be reached.
“This is worth it,” Becchetti said. “We’re making history in that we need Allina to address our concerns.”
The concerns for the past several months have been over safety, staffing and holding on to a health insurance plan with higher premiums but lower deductibles.
Allina wants the nurses to switch to the same plan other Allina employees already use, saying it is more sustainable — although it would include higher deductibles.
Allina Health spokesperson David Kanihan said the company met the nurses more than half way during negotiations.
“This was a really fair offer,” Kanihan said. “It provided for wage increase, additional bonuses, really all of the safety and security provisions that they were looking for as well as a smooth transition to a sustainable health insurance plan for the future.”
Allina reported 25 more nurses crossed the picket line after the latest attempt at bargaining fell apart, for a total of 620 since the strike began.
Becchetti says the latest proposal from Allina was not that different from one month ago when the strike began.
Allina said it will keep its current 1,500 replacement nurses with no immediate plans to add any more.
Although Allina has not released the cost of the strike so far, the company paid $20 million earlier this summer for a nurses’ strike that lasted one week.
The current strike is going into week five, with no set date yet for another round of negotiations.
The company can give the nurses a final “take it or leave it” offer, but Kanihan says there is no interest in doing that yet.
Both sides say they really want to come to a resolution.