Allina nurses to go on strike on Labor Day

Allina nurses to go on strike on Labor Day

Around 4,800 nurses from five Minnesota hospitals are scheduled to go on strike on Labor Day at 7 am on account of disputes over staffing levels, health insurance, and workplace safety. These nurses are a part of Minneapolis-based Allina Health hospitals: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, Unity in Fridley, and United Hospital in St. Paul.

Allina wants its nurses to switch from their separate union-only health plans to its corporate plan that covers all other employees. While Allina officials have criticized the previous plan as expensive, the new plan would imply that nurses would pay lower premiums, but would have higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. The union has resisted this move on the pretext that because of the hazards of their jobs, nurses are more prone to injuries and illnesses.

Despite 22 hour long talks on Friday and early Saturday, the two sides could not come to an agreement on a new three- year contract which expired on June 1.

About 1,500 temporary nurses are recruited as replacements to work full-time during the strike, while two-thirds of the regulars are part-time. Although around 350 regular nurses have also indicated to cross the picket lines, Penny Wheeler, chief executive of the Allina hospitals, said that they can bring in more temporary staff as long as they need to, adding that patients should access their hospitals as they normally do.

The Minnesota Nurses Association has also created a patient protection task force that would send nurses on strike to deal with medical emergencies. The problem is that hiring a huge amount of replacement workers is posing as an expensive proposition. The June’s strike had cost about $20.4 million.