Strike Covering Nearly 4,000 Essential Healthcare Workers with SEIU Healthcare MN Could Happen Across Multiple Facilities Starting May 10th
Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota voted early this month to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike after months of bargaining and employer offering frontline workers a 0% pay increase in the coming year
MINNESOTA — Frontline essential hospital workers at multiple Allina facilities who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota announced that they have filed a 10-day notice for an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike for nearly 4,000 healthcare workers that could start on May 10th if the two sides don’t reach an agreement.
Karen Cullen, who has worked in Environmental Services at Mercy Hospital for over 16 years and is a union steward with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared why she was part of the informational picketing Wednesday and why she is ready to join the ULP strike if needed:
“I’m ready to strike because I feel like it’s a shame our employer isn’t willing to see how hard all of us have worked through the pandemic on the front lines. We’re being treated like a number, not valued employees, and that feels very disrespectful,” said Cullen. “COVID has been difficult because of the fear that we will bring it home to our family. It’s critical for us essential healthcare workers to be valued so we can give the best quality care to our patients and our community. I am ready to strike so management realizes we are valuable employees and we deserve a contract that shows that they respect our work.”
Gene Sparks, a EMT at St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee, shared the frustration of many of the essential healthcare workers who are ready to join the ULP strike if Allina refuses to reach a fair deal:
“It is frustrating that Allina seems to be treating this like any other year or any other contract negotiations. We’ve been through too much this last year to be ok with 0% increase in the coming year. We’ve seen other industries offering hero pay and extra benefits to their employees for work during COVID, yet this is what we’re being offered. You can’t get much more essential than healthcare workers, yet here we are,” said Sparks. “Hopefully Allina comes to their senses and bargains with us, but if they aren’t willing to do that we are willing to stand up and show our worth. I hope it doesn’t have to get to that, but we’re ready if it does.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents nearly 4,000 healthcare workers in the Allina system, doing jobs such as Environmental Service Aids, Nursing Assistants, Nutrition Services, Emergency Department Techs, Patient Transport Aids, Patient Access Specialists, Sterile Processing Techs, Surgical Techs/Instrument Specialists, Health Unit Coordinators, Linen Aids, Rehabilitation Aids, Receiving Clerks, Warehouse Clerks, Materials Handlers, LPNs, Phlebotomy/EKG Assistants, Radiology Techs and more. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members work at multiple facilities, including: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Unity Hospital, Owatonna Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and United Hospital.
Brenda Hilbrich, the Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who is leading bargaining, shared details on plans:
“Our union is filing a 10-day notice for a ULP strike to start on May 10th if we can’t reach a contract settlement. The strike would start that Monday and last the whole week, with different facilities joining on different days,” said Hilbrich. “With our strike vote and this decision by our bargaining team we are making clear to Allina: we need a contract that respects us, protects us and pays us.”
Following informational pickets at Abbott Northwestern, St. Francis Medical Center and United Hospital earlier this month, Allina workers held an informational picket today at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. At the informational picket, SEIU leaders and community allies shared the news about the 10-day notice for a potential ULP strike at facilities across the state and highlighted how the healthcare workers who have kept Minnesotans safe and healthy during a global pandemic feel disrespected and devalued by current proposals from Allina management.
The two sides have bargained ten times since January and remain divided on key issues, including the fact that management is proposing a 0% pay increase for the first year of the contract. Allina has also refused to agree to needed changes around workplace safety and safe staffing, all while frontline healthcare workers still are dealing with the stress of working in hospitals during the pandemic. An overwhelming majority of workers voted to support a ULP strike if needed when voting happened in March. The two sides will meet again on May 3rd.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota