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


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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Twin Cities Hospitals Tentative Agreement Reached

After 21 hours of bargaining a tentative agreement was reached and the committee is recommending a YES vote to ratify. We’re having a Tele-Town Hall meeting Saturday, April 3rd at 10:00am to review the details of the tentative agreement and answer any questions you have. You’ll receive a call at the number we have on file at 10:30am, just pick up and you’ll be connected to the call.

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Allina Hospitals Refuse Extension – Contracts Expire

On Thursday, February 25th, 2021, the Allina Union bargaining team continued to push for progress on Union proposals. Unfortunately, Allina management continues to refuse to engage on issues of Health and Safety, Workplace Violence, Racial Equity and Inclusion, or Hero Pay. After weeks of telling Allina members that they would not be able to make progress on non-economic items and health and safety items important to members until the Union team provided its full list of economic proposals, the Union bargaining team reluctantly complied.

Less than one hour after receiving the Union’s economic proposals Allina said they still have no interest in any health and safety proposals or non-economic proposals. Were they bargaining in bad faith? We will let you be the judge. Allina responded by rejecting all Union proposals on all economic and non-economic items, demanded a wage freeze until 2022 and offered a 1% for members in 2022, and 1.5% in year 3. This would be the lowest wage increase for SEIU hospital workers since 1940! The bargaining team is holding firm on our proposals. For details on the proposals click here.

All Allina members are encouraged to stand behind your bargaining committee 100%, to publicly show your support for a fair contract by wearing Union buttons, stickers or purple! Because Allina will stop deducting Union dues from member paychecks, all members will need to make arrangements to pay your Union dues directly to the Union until a new contract is achieved. While Allina thinks that a refusal to extend the contract will divide us, we can show them our Unity and Strength by standing together until we achieve the contract we deserve! Click to make arrangements for direct pay of Union dues here.

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Steady Progress with Twin City Hospitals

This week, the Union bargaining team and the Twin City Hospitals multi-employer group made steady progress on issues important to members. The employer is working hard on economic proposals but has not yet brought them to the table. They appreciated the Union’s proposals and continued to work on areas of common ground on non-economic proposals. The contracts have been extended for an additional month while we work to hammer out agreements that work for both sides and we will update members after our next bargaining date on Tuesday. Updates can be found here.

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Tentative Agreement for Raises at Emeralds Nursing Home in Faribault!

Congratulations to the SEIU members at the Emeralds nursing home in Faribault, MN on reaching a Tentative Agreement on their wage reopener! Members will have an opportunity to vote on the proposed agreement soon. Details include:

  • A 4% increase to scales across the board on January 1, 2021.
  • Nursing department (LPN, NAR, TMA) over 15 years get four per cent (4%) and fifty cents ($.50) per hour added to base rate.
  • Cooks and dietary aides over 15 years get four per cent (4%) and twenty-five cents ($.25) per hour added to base rate
  • Laundry and Housekeeping over 15 years get four per cent (4%) and twenty-five cents ($.25)/per our added to base rate.
  • Employees will move through the wage and hiring scale on their anniversary dates each year.
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Pension Benefit Increase for Allina/Twin City Hospital Workers!

Last week the Union trustees on the Twin City Hospital Worker’s Pension Plan reached an agreement with the Employer trustees to increase pension benefits, effective January 1, 2021!

More than 8,000 Technical, LPN, and Service and Maintenance workers are covered by the Twin City Hospital Worker’s Pension Fund. Every three years we negotiate contributions to the pension plan that fund monthly benefit checks for SEIU members in their retirement. Our pension fund has been well managed and is fully funded. Based on strong investment returns last year and the contributions negotiated into our contracts in 2018, we were able to secure a $1 per month increase for future service years! The benefit amount effective January 1, 2021 will be $32.

While this is great news to celebrate, the Union bargaining committees for the Allina and Twin City Hospitals are working right now to bargain future increases in contributions so we can raise benefits even more. Keep up to date on negotiations and how the agreements reached will impact your income in retirement.

If you are a member in a facility that has not yet won inclusion in our Union’s pension plan, talk to your Union organizers about including our Union pension plan as a top priority in your next round of negotiations. There is no retirement plan better for healthcare workers than a union pension plan!

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Making Sure Our Voices Are Heard at the State Capitol

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 10.59.02 AMEvery spring, members of our Union gather at the state Capitol in St. Paul for Lobby Day for a big rally and small-group visits with our state representatives and senators. That kind of big gathering is not possible this year. Instead, we are setting up meetings district by district for all interested members on Zoom or another similar platform. You and other SEIU members who live in your community will meet directly with your state representative and senator to talk about our priorities and needs from state lawmakers. All you need to do is fill out this form, then staff from our SEIU State Council will follow up with you to schedule a Zoom meeting with your state lawmakers. SEIU members who live in your community will be prepared together to have powerful and effective conversations with them about what they need to do to make sure we are all RESPECTED, PROTECTED, and PAID for our work on the frontline of the pandemic.

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Grand Marais Members Reach Impasse

Last Thursday, the bargaining team at Cook County NorthShore Hospital and Health Center failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. Members will vote this week on management’s last offer. The bargaining team is recommending that members vote to reject the proposal and move to binding arbitration on the open issues. The open issues include: wage increases, extra shift bonuses, and call back pay, for members called back to work after their shift ends.

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Tentative Agreement Reached at Maplewood Good Samaritan

Congratulations to the SEIU members and bargaining team at Maplewood Good Samaritan nursing home on reaching a tentative agreement for a new contract! Members will have the opportunity to vote on the agreement later this week. Details include:

  • A 3-year contract with no openers, providing a 2% increase to wages and the hiring grid on March 1 of each year!
  • Changing the paid New Member Union Orientation time from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
  • Evening and night shift differential increases to $1.25.
  • Upgraded to new PTO system, with a new PTO accrual schedule which is faster and more PTO.
  • Eligible Employees can arrange to cash out PTO (once per year) up to 40-80 hours, subject to IRS rules and regulations.
  • New Military leave language includes the Employer paying the difference between the military earnings and the employees current pay rate for up to 5 years of leave.
  • New Bereavement leave called Compassionate Leave, including 3-5 days paid by the Employer.
  • New 401K plan including Employer 100% match up to Employee 4% contribution and 50% Employer match for Employee 5%-6% contribution.
  • This contract expires Feb 28, 2024.
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Twin City Hospital Employer Group Contract Extended

Respect_Protect_Pay (v4)-01Last week, the bargaining team for the Twin City Hospital multi-employer contract (including Fairview Riverside, Southdale, St. John’s, Children’s Minneapolis and St. Paul, North Memorial and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital) made additional progress on non-economic items. The Union team also provided our economic proposals to management for the first time (after 6 days of work on non-economic issues). The Union team continues to make steady progress but needed more time beyond contract expiration to keep bargaining. As a result the parties agreed to extend the contract for another month through the end of March. For more details click here.

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