Nearly 5,000 nurses are preparing to launch a one-week strike in a dispute over health insurance, The Associated Press reports — and they’re starting tomorrow.
Minnesota Nurses Association members plan to walk out at 7 a.m. Sunday at hospitals operated by Allina Health — Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis, Mercy in Coon Rapids, United in St. Paul, Unity in Fridley, and the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis. Allina says it plans to keep the five facilities — all in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area — operating close to normally with a smaller staff of replacement nurses.
Officials on both sides said Friday that there was no chance of averting the walkout.
“It’s disappointing and disheartening and not where we wanted to be, but this is where we are, so I do think that’s inevitable,” said Dr. Penny Wheeler, president and CEO of Allina Health.
MNA spokesman Rick Fuentes said the two sides planned to meet Friday, but only to discuss procedures for returning to work.
No new negotiations were scheduled on the main dispute over Allina’s effort to switch union nurses to the same health insurance plans as more than 30,000 other Allina employees and their family members, which carry lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs. The union says the company won’t budge.
“What we really want is them to come back to the table and actually negotiate with us,” said Angie Becchetti, a nurse at Abbott Northwestern.
The company says the move would encourage more frugal use of healthcare, thus cutting its costs by $10 million a year.
Other unresolved issues include nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and workplace safety. On pay, Allina is offering nurses 2 percent wage increases in each of three years. The union has proposed 3 percent raises in each of those years.
MNA members voted by a more than 66 percent to reject the company’s most recent offer and authorize the strike. Their current contract expired May 31.
Allina has lined up 1,450 replacement nurses, many from other states. Some elective procedures may be cancelled during the walkout, but the company says there will not be a significant drop in hospital services.
“We feel very confident about the care we’re able to provide … with the replacement nurses coming in,” Wheeler said.
The last major Twin Cities nurses strike was in 2010, when 12,000 nurses walked out at 14 metropolitan area hospitals for one day. Nurses at the other Twin Cities hospital systems reached contract agreements months ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this article
Main Street says
Nurses work hard. They deserve some respect.
Arthur Hartsock says
Don’t I remember all of the big health providers and the major health insurance companies lining up behind Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act? Well, If ObamaCare is having a major influence on how hospitals handle costs, then doesn’t this also affect what they can afford to pay staff including nurses? Am I not right on this point?
WOW! Makes one wonder where the hippocratic oath went to. I wonder how many patients will die while they are making their statement? We The People need to set down by ourselves and quietly speak with our Creator asking for direction and guidance. while surfing the Horn, I note that there is one word that stands out in my mind beyond all others. That word is “HATE” and has become prevalent throughout society. please believe, I am not advocating hate in any capacity, but it is something that everyone has within themselves and it is not an inherent bad thing but rather it is misdirected hate that is disdained.
(Proverbs 6: 16-19)
These six things doth the Lord hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Folks, we need to direct our hatred toward any appearance of evil. I know that people mean well when they talk of LOVING their fellow man, but keep in mind that we are not commanded to LOVE the whole world! In fact, quite the contrary.
(1 John 2:15-16)
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”.
Folks, Love is a precious thing and should never be wasted or bestowed upon evil. Many believe that there are many different kinds of love, but I respectively differ. I can only think of ONE kind of Love and it is defined in this manner: LOVE: The giving or sacrificing of ones self for the benefit of someone else.
I won’t go any further with this but keep in mind that there is much more that can be said on the subject and we really need to stand for something or we’ll fall for anything.
Arthur Hartsock says
Don’t get sick in Minneapolis/St. Paul this week.
My out of pocket costs have went up 10 fold, no joke. My friend works construction and his employer healthcare is great, but to include his wife cost them $160 a week with very high deductibles. When is that $2500 a month per family savings going to kick in “Mr.” president?