Albert Lea Hospital Workers Strike Mayo Clinic for First Time Ever

Hundreds picket as part of one-day strike, with workers supported by community members, multiple Gubernatorial candidates and other elected officials

Strikes comes as workers and community are fighting for good jobs and quality rural healthcare in face of #MayoGreed 

 

Albert Lea, Minn — Hospital workers at Mayo Clinic Albert Lea walked off the job on a one-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike this morning at 6am. It is the first strike in the history of Mayo Clinic, and comes after countless bargaining sessions where the workers strived to find a compromise with Mayo despite Mayo’s insistence on undermining the security of the working families. The workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize their one-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike late last month. The historic action comes as Mayo continues to demand changes that would undermine good jobs in the community and further the erosion of rural healthcare in southern Minnesota. Workers were joined by elected officials, including multiple candidates for Governor, other elected officials, and unions who shared their support for the workers. (Statements of support from elected officials and supportive unions to be sent out after 11am rally)

 
rs_Albert_Lea_Mayo_HCMN_strikeSheri Wichmann, who has worked in Sterile processing for 18 years
, shared why hospital workers are out on strike today.

“We are out on strike today because it is insulting that Mayo has treated us and our community this way. We are committed to our job and our community, and all we’re asking for is that Mayo recognizes our value. We care deeply about what happens as we are not just employees, but patients at this hospital,” said Wichmann. “We are not asking for the world, just a contract that is fair so we can feel some security for our families. We hope this will make Mayo realize they need to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.”

Since the vote, Mayo has threatened their employees with a seven-day lockout if they follow through with their legally-protected right to strike, a lockout that would mean workers with hundreds of years of service to Mayo patients would be locked out over Christmas. It comes during a time when Mayo’s revenues last year reached over $5 billion and Mayo’s CEO Dr. Noseworthy saw a 11% pay increase to $2.8 million per year.

Perry Jensen has worked at the hospital for 20 years in the utilities department and shared why he joined his co-workers in going on strike, even in the face of threats from Mayo.

“I’m going on strike because I am disappointed in Mayo’s ‘my way or the highway’ bargaining. It’s hard to feel valued or appreciated with what they are offering us and what they are proposing to take away,” said Jensen. “It feels like there isn’t the concern for us as employees and community members like there used to be. They won’t budge at all and want to force us to take what they want without sitting down and bargaining. It is a slap in the face. This was always a good place to work, but it is turning more into a corporate feel. I hope this strike makes them realize all we want is for them to sit down and bargain with us for what is fair for everyone.”

Joining striking workers were community members like Jeanine Anderson who shared support for the workers fighting for good jobs and quality rural healthcare.

“As a major employer here, Mayo sets the standard for jobs and the decisions they make about employment have a direct and immediate impact on this community,” said Jeanine Anderson, who worked as a manager at Mayo for 37 years before recently retiring. “The workers out here exemplify everyone in our community who depends on Mayo for good, secure jobs and quality healthcare. People come from around the world to be treated at the Mayo clinic, but our community’s needs are being thrown by the wayside. We are standing with the workers because our community needs to have a voice or we will lose out even more.”

The striking workers included the general group bargaining unit, consisting of 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, who have been bargaining for over a year. Joining the larger group are six skilled maintenance workers who have been without a contract for over two years.

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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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