SAINT PAUL – After four months of negotiations, including a final push of five straight days of bargaining capped by a 14-hour session Friday that lasted into Saturday morning, talks between HealthPartners management and 1,800 members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota broke down as the company continues to insist on massive concessions to members’ health benefits. The current contract expired Feb. 1st. The 1,800 members work at over 30 locations doing over 80 jobs including nurses, dental assistants, CMAs, nurse practitioners and midwives.
Because of management’s continued insistence on taking away healthcare from frontline staff, the SEIU bargaining team are calling for a vote to authorize a seven-day Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike. The vote will be held Thursday starting at 6 a.m. across multiple locations in the Twin Cities, with results of the vote set to be announced Friday at 10am outside the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center in St. Paul. The bargaining team is unanimously recommending a “YES” vote to membership. (Note: the vote only authorizes a strike. A 10-day notice would be needed before a strike could happen.)
Kate Lynch, a 31-year Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at HealthPartners who is on the bargaining team, shared why frontline healthcare workers are so incensed by management’s proposed changes to their healthcare:
“Minnesotans are caring people. We believe that all of our families should have what we need to be healthy and happy. I am proud to be part of a group of frontline healthcare workers who spend every day caring for Minnesotans. We are voting to strike because we know if a rich healthcare corporation like HealthPartners – who made $7 billion in revenue last year – can cut our care, it will move our whole state backwards when we need to be moving forward toward affordable care for all,” said Lynch. “I’ve been a part of our bargaining team for nine contracts, and I’ve never seen HealthPartners treat us with so little respect or push for such huge cuts. For four months management has refused to move off their demand to roll back healthcare for 1,800 caregivers and our families. We are united and ready to fight for the healthcare that Minnesota families deserve.”
Clara Boykin is a 30-year lab tech at HealthPartners and member of the bargaining team:
“At a time when millions of Americans are struggling with skyrocketing healthcare costs, HealthPartners should be working to help make sure more people have quality, affordable healthcare, not attempting to weaken the coverage their frontline employees have won over the years. SEIU members are united in fighting for what is right, and I’m confident we will do whatever it takes to show management that we won’t accept sending nearlty 2,000 Minnesotans and their families towards a more uncertain future,“ said Boykin. “I’m voting to strike to show HealthPartners executives that we are serious when we say “Hands Off Our Healthcare!”
Phillip Cryan, Executive Vice President of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, laid out why these cuts are so outrageous and why members now will be voting to strike to stand up for what is right:
“There is no reason a $7 billion organization that gives its CEO an $800,000 pay-raise should be taking one dime out of the pockets of its frontline caregivers to pad the corporate bottom line. HealthPartners members in Minnesota are fighting for everyone’s right to great healthcare. When health workers have to potentially go on strike to guarantee access to quality health care, you know our healthcare system is broken.”
SEIU members are ready to continue bargaining, but no dates are currently scheduled.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota