Hospitals

Open Letter to Allina from President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

With the nurses strike reaching a third week, comments made by Allina’s CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler about the health insurance they want to take from the nurses has become a focal point of the battle. Speaking on television, radio and earlier this week in a full-page ad in the Star Tribune, Dr. Wheeler has been referring to one of the Allina core plans as an important example of high road collaboration with one of their Unions. We, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, are that Union, and we want to set the record straight about how we created the Allina First plan and why Allina’s current management, under CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler, cannot be trusted when it comes to health insurance.

In 2008, under a previous management at Allina, our Union and Allina were bargaining under a formal labor-management collaboration called the Strategic Alliance. The Alliance had emerged from years of battles over insurance, starting in 2003 when SEIU members at Allina who made as little as $11 per hour were charged close to $600 per month for family insurance. In 2008, we made a major step forward for our members by negotiating the Allina First plan, which is what Dr. Wheeler keeps referencing. We called it the Allina First plan because members were expected to use the Allina network first before seeking other providers. We also convinced Allina management that they could save millions of dollars in prescription drug prices by eliminating all co-pays from generic drugs. The result of this collaboration was better coverage for our members, with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs for most members. Allina gained new patients from this insurance pool, saved money on drug costs as members overwhelmingly chose generic over name-brand drugs, and was so pleased it introduced the plan to all of Allina. For SEIU members and Allina this truly was a win-win.

During this period of partnership, our Union also collaborated with Allina on more than 50 other projects to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction scores. Our efforts helped Allina save money across these projects and our members felt good that our ideas were taken seriously. We were able to make a difference for our own families, for patients and even for Allina’s bottom line.

Allina has changed under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership. In 2015, Allina unilaterally cancelled our labor-management partnership. Today at Unity Hospital, there are 345 SEIU members who voted to join the Union and after a year of negotiating want nothing more than to be added to the same Allina First plan that is offered to SEIU members across the rest of Allina. Dr. Wheeler has refused. The only health plan they are willing to discuss to with these workers is one with out-of-pocket costs that are higher by thousands of dollars per year and where each employee is charged a premium based on the results of health tests.

Service workers at Unity Hospital are charged more per month in premiums than SEIU members at nearby Mercy Hospital, which Allina is merging with Unity Hospital as “one hospital two campuses.” Why, after more than a year of bargaining, is Allina still refusing to agree to give Unity Hospital workers the same plan Dr. Wheeler is now praising as a reason for nurses to end their strike? It seems that on many fronts Allina wants complete control of their health plans so they can make changes that boost Allina’s profits at the expense of employees.

For many SEIU members, the Allina First plan was a big step forward, achieved through bargaining, not unilateral change. Dr. Wheeler’s rhetoric about Union collaboration refers to an era that she herself has decided to end. Neither nurses nor the community should be fooled by her talking points. If Allina, under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership, were honestly collaborating with Unions there wouldn’t be a strike and SEIU members at Unity would have a contract with the same Allina First insurance that Dr. Wheeler has been praising. We stand in full support of the nurses in their strike and call on Dr. Penny Wheeler to offer the SEIU members at Unity Hospital the same Allina First plan she has been praising so publicly.

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Albert Lea Hospital Workers Hold Informational Picket Outside of Hospital In Response to Contract Negotiations

albert leaAlbert Lea, MN – Today, outside of the Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital, maintenance workers and community supporters held an informational picket to highlight proposals brought forward by Mayo during contract negotiations that could harm workers, the hospital and the community. The workers, who are members of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, highlighted their concerns on the public sidewalk outside of the hospital as they continue their attempts to reach a fair contract agreement.

Workers at the picket included Kavin Dressen, the chief engineer who has worked at the hospital since 1989, who highlighted what changes proposed by the hospital would mean for both workers and the community.

“’We do incredibly important work to ensure our hospital stays up and running  so families in our community can get the care they deserve. I’m afraid if we don’t fight back as a community against the hospital’s proposal to take away the voice of longtime community members who work at our hospital, it will mean that in the future this will no longer be a “career” job that supports a family and allows someone to make Albert Lea their home. Having a safe, well-run hospital is important to patients, and having decent jobs in our community is important to everyone in and around Albert Lea. We should be fighting for more jobs that reward hard work, not proposing language that could lead to a race to the bottom,” said Dressen. “We are ready to sit down at the bargaining table and reach an agreement with the hospital so we can continue to provide the service needed to make our hospital great. Unfortunately, Mayo executives wants to impose a plan on Albert Lea that will hurt dedicated employees, and the results from their proposals could hurt those who visit our hospital and hurt our community.

“We are out here today on this informational picket because we can’t let that happen,” said Dressen.

The maintenance workers at Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital are the first unit of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members to bargain this round with Mayo, and they have already had six bargaining sessions over the last three months. Many points of agreement have been reached, but workers expressed dismay over proposed language that takes away the voice of longtime workers.

Also joining the picket was Henry Tews, a maintenance engineer who has worked at the hospital for 26 years.

“The experience we bring in keeping our hospital up and running allows for families in our community to receive the kind of care that they deserve. It is no coincidence that many of us have been working here for multiple decades and have deep roots in our community, things that help us do our job at a high level. The proposals that Mayo is bringing to the table, weakening the rights of the people who make their hospitals run, would move our hospital and our communities in the wrong direction,” said Tews, a father of five. “We know that if we let decision-makers at Mayo start eroding the quality of maintenance jobs, other hospital workers are next. The experience that helps us ensure a safe and well-run hospital is a direct result of the stability that comes from the gains we have won as a Union, things that Mayo are now trying to take away.”

“Albert Lea deserves a well-run hospital and decent jobs that make sure our hospital and community can prosper, Tews continued. “We are out here today on this informational picket to let everyone know that our contract isn’t just about us, it is about the future of our hospital. We can choose fairness that keeps our hospital and our communities strong, or we can choose a profit-driven race to the bottom that risks moving Albert Lea Hospital backwards for workers, and in turn for the patients and our community.”

The next bargaining session will be on Monday, November 23rd, and workers and supporters expressed hope that the hospital will work to reach an agreement on a contract that ensures that workers, patients and the Albert Lea community are shown the value that they deserve.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 42,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 60,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.

 

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Mayo St. Mary’s Bargaining Update – June 24, 2014

TENTATIVE AGREEMENT REACHED!

On Tuesday, June 23 we reached a Tentative Agreement with Mayo on a 3-year contract that:

  • Preserves our Union pension
  • Limits mandatory overtime
  • Includes wage increases with retro pay back to 4/22/15

More details to come. Our bargaining committee is recommending a Yes vote!

 

 

Our contract ratification vote is scheduled for:

  • DATE: Monday, July 6
  • TIME: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
  • LOCATION: Cafeteria Room D

For more info, talk to a bargaining team member!

 

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Allina Hospital Workers Approve New Contract That Establishes $15 Minimum Wage at Twin Cities Hospitals

3,000 healthcare workers at eight Allina hospitals ratify new 3-year deal with a landmark increase to $15 an hour minimum wage at metro hospitals, advances pay equity at non-metro hospitals and addresses health and safety for workers

As thousands of low-wage workers and allies demonstrate this week for a $15 per hour minimum wage, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at Allina Hospitals ratified a new three-year contract that establishes a $15 per hour minimum wage for the first time for workers at seven hospitals across the Twin Cities region, including in Shakopee and Buffalo.

“At a time when more and more jobs are low-wage jobs that cannot even begin to support a family, our new contract shows that a $15 per hour minimum wage is possible because we achieved it for all of our members at seven hospitals,” said Paula Lindquist, a Scheduling Coordinator at Buffalo Hospital. “We are an example of the power of workers coming together to improve wages, benefits, quality of services and the future of our communities.”

“For Lab Assistants like me, this is our first union contract and I will see a $5 per hour raise to more than $15 per hour, and better benefits,” said Tigist Tefera of Abbott-Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, whose job classification joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota last year. “This will mean a better life for us and our families, and all workers deserve the same.”

The contract provides employment security protections as well as additional health and safety protections for workers. It includes a wage increase in every year of the contract for all members, an increase in Allina’s contribution towards the members’ pension plan, and a 25% increase in the amount of tuition reimbursement available to all members annually.

The new agreement also takes a significant step towards equal pay for equal work for workers at Allina hospitals outside the metro region. “We provide the same excellent quality care and service to our patients in Owatonna as our fellow union members do in Minneapolis and Saint Paul,” said Deb Dodds, an Environmental Services Aide at Owatonna Hospital, “so I am glad to see that we are closing the pay equity gap for hospital workers outside the metro area, but we have more progress to make.”

Coming on the heels of a new contract for 3,000 hospital workers at eight other Twin Cities hospitals – including Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, Fairview Health Services, HealthEast Care System, North Memorial Health Care, and Park Nicollet Health Services (recently merged into HealthPartners) – over 99.5% of the workers in 16 hospitals covered by these contracts will have a $15 per hour minimum compensation.

“This contract is a step forward for every union member, but there is a lot more that we need to do to improve patient care in our hospitals,” said Vivian Straumann, a Licensed Practical Nurse at United Hospital in Saint Paul. “We will not stop raising the issue of staffing levels until we are satisfied that we have the right number of people to keep ourselves, our patients and our hospitals safe. Staffing levels are directly linked to our patient’s health and our ability as frontline workers to deliver the highest quality of care possible. ”

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 were working without a new contract after their last agreement expired on March 1. They work at eight Allina hospitals, including Abbott-Northwestern, Buffalo, Mercy, Owatonna, St. Francis, United, Unity, and Phillips Eye Institute.

 

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Mayo St. Mary’s Bargaining Update – April 10, 2014

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Mayo Methodist Bargaining Update – April 9, 2014

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Mayo St. Mary’s Bargaining Update – March 27, 2014

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Hundreds of Members Picket at Allina Abbott Northwestern

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.”

 

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 43,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Allina Bargaining Update – March 16, 2015

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Mayo St. Mary’s Bargaining Update – March 12, 2014

Union Proposals: March 5, 2015
Employer Proposals: Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital Bargaining

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