The Issues: Workplace Violence Policies & InsuranceBy Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many nurses are spending the day standing outside a Minneapolis hospital picketing Wednesday. It’s part of the union’s effort to get a contract on the table that all sides can agree on.

At least a few dozen nurses have been out at Children’s Minneapolis hospital since 7:30 a.m. and are planning on staying through the rain until 5 p.m.

The issues themselves vary by hospital, but two big ones stand out, according to the nurses WCCO spoke with.

The first big issue is stronger language around workplace violence. In short, if nurses get injured at work, right now they have to use their paid time off in the three days between the incident and the point when workers’ compensation kicks in. They want the hospital to pay for those hours instead of their PTO.

The other big topic: insurance, and how much it costs.

“Everybody thinks that because you work in a hospital you get good health insurance, and that’s not the case,” Doreen McIntyre of the Minnesota Nurses Association said. “It’s become unaffordable for many people, they’re on the lowest plan that they pay the least for but then the deductibles are very high. And so it’s tough if you are unfortunate and get ill or have a child and get ill, that you have to pay so much out of pocket.”

In a statement, a representative for Twin Cities Hospitals told WCCO it wants to reach an agreement that “recognizes the registered nurses’ important role in patient care, supports a culture of safety in our workplaces, and allows health systems to invest in delivering exceptional care to our communities. We remain hopeful and optimistic that we can reach agreement on a new contract soon. We are committed to ensuring our patients and community have the continuity and quality of care they deserve and depend on from our hospitals.”

Children’s Minneapolis has agreed to meet with nurses again this Friday, where they hope to find some common ground. If not, the Nurses Association told us it’s willing to add on days until negotiations get settled. The last resort, they said, will be going on strike.

Christiane Cordero

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