Skilled maintenance workers vote to join general group who already voted to strike, escalating the fight against #MayoGreed
Union Expresses Concern Over Mayo Threats Around Christmas Lockout
ALBERT LEA, MINN — SEIU Healthcare Minnesota is filing a 10-day notice of intent to hold an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike at Mayo Albert Lea Hospital on Tuesday, December 19th.
The notice comes as the skilled maintenance workers who have been without a contract for over two years voted to join the general group also represented by SEIU who voted overwhelmingly to authorize a 1-day strike in late November. The votes come as Mayo in effect continues to demand steps backwards for working families as part of their evidently ongoing devaluation of rural healthcare. The general group bargaining unit includes 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, providing essential services to community members who utilize the hospital. There are six skilled maintenance workers.
Marlene Baseman has been a housekeeper at the hospital for over 27 years. As the strike date was announced, she shared her vote to strike was because after nearly three decades she has never felt so insecure or invisible at the hospital.
“I wish Mayo would appreciate our community and the people who keep the wheels turning in the hospital. Mayo’s actions affect everyone in our community, so that is why I’m willing to take this stand,” said Baseman. “What frustrates me is that at the bargaining table we have been willing to give and give and give, and when it is Mayo’s turn to compromise, they haven’t given an inch. They seem to want to throw away all of what we have now. They offer us pennies and cut back at our hospital while we see them spending big bucks in other places.”
Baseman also highlighted the changes at the hospital in recent years.
“It seems like they have no regards for people who aren’t executives. We feel like we are disposable to them,” Baseman continued. “We have to stand up for ourselves and our community. We won’t cave because we are fighting for what is right.”
Nate Johnson is an 18-year plant operation engineer at the hospital with the skilled maintenance bargaining unit that voted Wednesday to join the 1-day ULP strike as Mayo continues to demand the ability to subcontract these jobs.
“I voted to strike because we want real job security to be able to provide for our families. Job security means loyalty both ways, and right now we aren’t seeing loyalty back from Mayo. We reached across the bargaining table and agreed to much of what they asked from us, but now the bar has moved and they are demanding the ability to subcontract away our jobs,” said Johnson. “We have seen that Mayo will subcontract an entire department by what they did to the food service workers last year. The rules changed when we saw that happen. We think we aren’t that far away from a deal if Mayo would be willing to meet us halfway and stop demanding the ability to outsource our jobs.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley shared how this fight is about basic respect for the people who work at the hospital and live in the community.
“Families in Albert Lea are simply fighting for good jobs and a commitment from Mayo to show that they value the Albert Lea community. For skilled maintenance workers, they have been without a contract for two years, and the general group for over a year. Mayo continues to insist on rolling back protections for workers and won’t budge on their demands to strip basic security and respect from people who have dedicated decades of experience to their community hospital. It is a slap in the face to the whole community,” said Gulley. “Mayo has shown no intention of meeting halfway on anything. Mayo’s ‘our way or the highway’ attitude have made it clear that working families have little choice but to stand up and fight back.”
After the general group strike vote was held the week before Thanksgiving, Mayo sent an email to staff threatening to lock out workers for seven days if they held their one-day strike. This aggressive move was seen by the union as clearly meant to be a threat to stop workers at the hospital from making their voices heard through their legally-protected right to strike.
“It is very troubling that Mayo decided to causally threaten employees with a Christmas lockout. I know working people, and the whole Albert Lea community, won’t be intimidated by threats from Mayo executives. The workers and the community are united for what is right. Over the last few years it has become crystal clear that Albert Lea workers, patients and community members are ready and willing to fight for good jobs and good healthcare in our community. It is time Mayo actually listens to families in Albert Lea instead of apparently only focusing on their bottom line while sitting in their executive suites.”
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.