4,000 Frontline Healthcare Workers at Allina Vote Overwhelmingly to Authorize ULP Strike

Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota at eight facilities vote to authorize ULP strike if Allina management continue to offer proposals, including 0% pay increase in the coming year, that leave healthcare heroes feeling undervalued
Vote comes as separate group of 4,000 healthcare workers from other Twin Cities Hospital systems win Tentative Agreement with employers

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MINNESOTA — After two weeks of voting across eight different facilities, essential healthcare workers employed by Allina Health have voted overwhelmingly to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike if the two sides cannot reach a deal. The bargaining team would have to give a 10-day notice for any potential strike.

The vote covered 4,000 healthcare workers who have been on the front lines during COVID-19. The two sides have bargained eight 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.

Gene Sparks, a EMT at St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee, shared the frustration of many of the essential healthcare workers who voted “yes” to authorize a 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 this strike vote shows 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 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.

They work at eight facilities: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Unity Hospital, Owatonna Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and United Hospital.

Instead of bargaining a fair contract for the workers who have kept Minnesotans safe and healthy during the pandemic, the union has experienced Unfair Labor Practices including: bad faith bargaining, refusing to provide information that is relevant and necessary for collective bargaining, unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment, and failing to transfer deductions of Union dues withheld from employee checks to the Union.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota plans informational pickets in the coming weeks at Allina facilities, with the first happening Wednesday, April 7th at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis. (More details to come)

The strike authorization vote came at the same time that another group of 4,000 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members reached a tentative agreement with their employers (Children’s Hospitals: Minneapolis & St Paul, M Health Fairview St. John’s, M Health Fairview Southdale, M Health Fairview UMMC Riverside, North Memorial and Park Nicollet Methodist.) The members will be voting to approve the agreement in the coming weeks.

Key gains in the tentative agreement include:

  • 7.5% pay increase and 9% pension increase over three years of contract
  • New Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion language
  • Workplace Safety Improvements
  • Action Plan to address our concerns around Safe Staffing

Hope Dahn, a CNA at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital for 22 years and a member of the bargaining team, spoke about the Tentative Agreement:

“We all took on so much this last year, so I am glad we were able to come together and reach the best tentative agreement we could. I work on a COVID unit and have autoimmune issues, and my department went from seeing five deaths a year to having five deaths in a day at one point. This year has affected each of us differently, but it has been awful for all of us. I’m proud our bargaining team won improvements to address workplace violence, racial justice, gender equity, immigration leave and also won the best wage increase we’ve had in my time here,” said Dahn. “We’ve worked hard this last year to keep our patients safe, and that is why it was so critical to win the best contract we could. If you work in healthcare – no matter what your job is – you are part of the patient’s care. I think the unity shown by our members helped us get this great contract.”

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