By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over 200 technical healthcare workers for Allina Health began a two-day strike Monday morning, citing health and safety demands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers started picketing at 6 a.m. at the St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Allina Health Tech workers, members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota union, authorized the two-day Unfair Labor Practice strike in September. The group is calling for better pay and safety for both workers and patients.

The healthcare workers striking include medical lab technicians, sleep lab technicians, surgical techs and other technical positions.

“Unlike their co-workers, who have protections to keep their pay and benefits if they have to quarantine from COVID-19 exposure, these workers currently have a temporary agreement for the first time they have to quarantine, but in the last month multiple workers have been forced to use their sick time if they faced a second exposure to COVID,” the union said. “The main sticking points center beyond these essential healthcare workers pushing to get the same health and safety benefits as other Allina workers include proposed increased Paid Time Off and improvements to their health insurance and retirement plans.”

A rally will be held at the Minneapolis location at noon Monday, with another rally scheduled for the Shakopee location at noon Tuesday. Pickets will last until 6 p.m. both days.

Allina Health says throughout the negotiations, they have consistently offered proposals demonstrating their commitment to employees, while balancing the current financial realities caused by the pandemic.

Read the full statement from Allina Health below:

Allina Health is committed to reaching a fair and equitable contract settlement with the approximately 220 employees at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and St. Francis Regional Medical Center. The contracts covering these employees expired on June 30 and were extended by mutual agreement through July 31. SEIU was not interested in an additional extension beyond that date. Throughout these negotiations, Allina Health has consistently offered proposals that demonstrate our commitment to our employees, while also reflecting the current financial realities caused by the pandemic.

Like most businesses and health care providers, Allina Health has experienced significant financial pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU’s proposal for a 13% wage increase over the life of the contract, among other economic enhancements, is unrealistic and out-of-step with the current environment. While balancing financial realities, Allina Health has still offered a 2.25% wage increase over the life of each contract and is not seeking any concessions in current contract language.

It is particularly disappointing that the union insists on striking in the middle of a global pandemic, especially in light of the financial sacrifices already being made by most other Allina Health employees. Allina Health’s priority is to continue providing high quality care to the community and we are prepared to continue to provide a full array of patient care services at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and St. Francis Regional Medical Center throughout the 2-day work stoppage by some of our SEIU union employees.

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