Members and supporters hold informational picket at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis to highlight need for safer staffing levels, other health and safety measures
Minneapolis — Over 500 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members employed by Allina Health held an informational picket outside of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis on Wednesday to highlight the need for safer staffing levels and other health and safety measures after drastic cuts made by Allina in recent years have led to over a thousand staffing emergencies in recent years.
“Allina has cut staff at every hospital in the last three years, but we are still working the same or more hours and it means we are constantly understaffed,” said Kalsang Dickey, a Nursing Assistant at the Mother Baby Center at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. “Every night, I have up to 48 patients and only one of me, and it means I have less time to spend with each patient. That puts patient safety at risk when calls go unanswered for too long,” continued Dickey.
Allina defines a staffing emergency as any time in which staff work over 120 hours in a two-week pay period, and that has occurred nearly 1,200 times in the last two years, with hundreds of thousands of hours of overtime and other unplanned hours across eight hospitals.
“Allina could add hundreds of full-time positions just to fill the extra hours we’re all working,” said Dawn Akkaya, who has worked at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital for sixteen years as a Nursing Assistant and Patient Assistant Coordinator.
Workers and supporters, including members of the Minnesota Nurses Association at Allina hospitals, also informed the public about the demand by Allina executives to be able to subcontract hospital jobs and what that would mean for workers and the patients for whom they provide care.
“If Allina executives subcontract hospital jobs like Dietary and Environmental Services to the lowest bidder, I think there will be higher turnover, less training, lower standards, and all of that will harm patient care,” continued Akkaya. “We want to work with Allina to invest in our healthcare workforce, not drive a race to the bottom.”
Over 3,000 Allina hospital workers, including Nursing Assistants; Environmental Services staff; Cooks and Dietary staff; Licensed Practical Nurses; X-Ray, Surgical, and Sterile Processing Technicians; and many others are working without a new contract after their last agreement expired on March 1. Allina Health hospital workers are calling on the non-profit health system to work with them on important issues like the health and safety of patients and workers. Despite negotiating for months, Allina executives continue to demand changes that will hurt workers and make it harder to provide the outstanding care that Minnesota families deserve.
“We are committed to reaching a fair settlement on a new contract that moves forward on critical issues like workplace health and safety and opportunities for advancement,” said Pam Bundy, a Holter Monitor Tech at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. “We hope that Allina executives will work with us on these issues and drop their demands to be able to subcontract our jobs to the lowest bidder and eliminate the 8-hour work day, which would negatively impact patient care.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 43,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.