Albert Lea, Minn – Workers with hundreds of years of service to the Albert Lea hospital continue to be out in the cold because of Mayo’s Christmas lockout. The workers went on a one-day ULP strike on Tuesday in the fight for good jobs and quality rural healthcare. When they attempted to return to work on Wednesday they were blocked from returning and locked out over Christmas. They picketed the rest of the week, joined by countless elected officials and union & community supporters. There will be no picketing over the weekend and Christmas as workers will spend time with their families. The group will return to work at 6am on Tuesday, December 26th.
“We refused to let Mayo’s locking us all out on Christmas break our spirit. I am so proud that our group is standing strong for what is right. We haven’t wavered one bit, and we are as committed as ever to winning this fight for good jobs and good healthcare. It feels good that our union and community made sure everyone was taken care of, and we are going to stick together and continue our fight for what is right,” said Heather Olson, who has worked for 12 years as a housekeeper at Mayo.
While Mayo kicked the group of mothers, fathers and grandparents out in the cold, their union and community jumped to stand with them and ensure they would not miss a paycheck during Mayo’s Christmas lockout. The two sides will have a bargaining session on December 28th in Albert Lea after Mayo finally agreed to sit back down with the workers.
“After a year of not moving an inch, we were surprised to see Mayo telling reporters they were so interested in negotiating with us once they locked us out over Christmas,” said Justin Yost, who has worked in the utilities department for 14 years. “We will see next week if their actions match their words. The one thing we know is that all of us who were kicked to the curb by Mayo are stronger and more united than ever in fighting for good jobs and good healthcare. We don’t make $2.8 million per year like Mayo CEO Dr. Noseworthy, so our family’s futures are depending on it.”
Mayo’s decision to choose to respect temporary workers from out of the community over long-term employees who have lived in Albert Lea for decades was another instance of the misplaced values Mayo continues to show as they work to undermine good jobs and roll back the healthcare in rural Minnesota, all in the name of more profits and higher executive pay.
Despite Mayo’s cold shoulder to workers, many of whom have decades of experience making sure the hospital is run well for patients, the workers who have been locked out expressed gratitude for the support from elected officials, community members and other unions who have joined them on the picket line and supported in numerous other ways.
To reciprocate the support, union members have collected toys and food and will be delivering them to children in need the week of Christmas.
“Just because Mayo is treating people in Albert Lea this way doesn’t mean we need to stoop to that level as well. This week has made clear that our community can and must stick together if we have a chance of winning the jobs and healthcare we deserve. We want to give back just a little, and we will use the Christmas season as a chance to support our fellow Albert Lea residents by sharing with those less fortunate than we are,” said Dave Larson, who has worked doing utilities at the hospital for 10 years. “We hope Mayo uses this holiday season to look in the mirror and decide if in 2018 they want to continue to be the kind of place that locks out hard-working employees, or if they want to be an employer that listens and meets people in the community halfway.”
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