Mayo Albert Lea Service Workers Vote to Authorize 1-Day Strike

As Mayo continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith, workers vote overwhelmingly to send message that Mayo needs to treat workers fairly

Albert Lea, Minn — Mayo Albert Lea service workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a 1-day strike if Mayo continues to refuse to bargain in good faith. The group, which includes 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, provide essential services to community members who utilize the hospital. Over 92% of those voting approved the strike authorization, meaning a strike could be called at any point going forward with a 10-day notice. No strike date was set at the vote.

Mayo_clinic_stock_3_rsThe workers, many of whom have decades of experience, are simply asking for Mayo to bargain in good faith, something they have refused to do in the past few months. Currently Mayo is demanding a race-to-the-bottom clause that would allow them to take benefits away from employees at any time, regardless of the contract, something that is a non-starter for union workers. Despite recent news that 13 Mayo employees make over $1 million per year, executives are asking Mayo workers to take a step backwards so they can increase the hospital’s bottom line.

In response to Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith, Heather Olson, who has worked for 12 years as a housekeeper at Mayo, shared why people are willing to take this step.

“It used to feel like the focus was about our patients and community, and not just about money, but over the last few years that has changed. I used to be proud to tell people where I work, and would never have imagined voting for a strike, but for me, I voted yes to strike because it feels as if there is no other options. They want to take away everything and aren’t willing to show us we have value or meet us halfway,” said Olson. “It is hard to feel valued when they aren’t budging on issues that matter so much to families in Albert Lea. I’ve gone to negotiations and it is ridiculous seeing how they refuse to move an inch or meet us halfway. It is hard to understand and really feels like we have little to no value at all. It is definitely taking a a toll on morale. I hope this will help get them to understand that patients, employees and the community matter.”

Justin Yost, who has worked at Mayor for 14 years in the utilities department, echoed the sentiment of feeling like Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith has led to this vote.

“It seems like Mayo is cutting everything they can to save themselves a nickel. Doing nothing as this happens to the workers in our unit with hundreds of years experience at our community hospital just isn’t an option,” said Yost. “I voted yes to authorize the strike because when you work for a big healthcare corporation, you shouldn’t have to worry about not having or being able to afford healthcare. That could be a reality if Mayo refuses to budge on their proposal to be able to take away healthcare from employees at any time. I hope they will come back to the table and bargain in good faith.”

Service workers continue to push for Mayo to come to the bargaining table, negotiate in good faith, and do what is best for the entire Albert Lea community.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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