SAINT PAUL -- The bargaining team for healthcare workers who work for Minnesota Epilepsy Group have filed a 10-day notice announcing that they will hold a 5-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike that would start Monday, March 14th if no deal can be reached. Picket lines would be up at both the MEG headquarters in Roseville and at hospitals where members work, with locations changing throughout the week.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents more than 60 Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologists at MEG, providing essential brain-wave testing services which patients at hospitals and clinics across the Twin Cities metropolitan area rely on every day.
Leah Olsen, a Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologist who has been at MEG for 11 years, shared why workers are ready to strike:
“It is frustrating that we've tried so hard to reach a deal and aren't seeing that same effort from those in charge. We're filing our 10-day notice to potentially strike on March 14th if they continue to refuse to bargain with us. While we’ve filed this notice, we remain ready to bargain on a moment’s notice if management will come back to the table,” said Olsen. “MEG has expanded services and options for patients, yet they are offering us raises of only .6/.6/.6 over the next three years. MEG states that they offer focused expertise and comprehensive care, but I’m afraid their offer could lead to the loss of the technologists who help provide that amazing care. With 7% inflation, not a lot of people want to stick around in a job where the wages go up by 0.6%. We serve everyone from babies to adults, and I like being able to work across different healthcare settings and the variability of our patients. But we’re stretched so thin. When we’re so short-staffed it’s hard to give the level of care we want to give with work and patients piling up. Most days we have to rush to get everything done. The fact that management is offering basically no raises is disrespectful and insulting for the work we do helping our patients."
The group announced February 17th that they had unanimously voted to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike if the two sides cannot reach a deal. The union then offered three additional bargaining dates to management, all of which have now passed.
Renee David, a Senior Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologists at MEG for three years and member of the bargaining team, shared why she voted yes:
“Our membership is strong and tenacious, and standing up for a respectable resolution is our only option. We are the backbone of the company. Our members deserve a fair agreement so we can focus on providing care and service to our patients. Here we are already into the second quarter of the year without resolution. Each day that passes by is such a disappointment. We want to reach a resolution. MEG needs to make this a priority. We need to be a priority.”
The two sides bargained six times between October and early February. They twice agreed to extend the prior union contract in order to continue negotiations. But after not reaching agreement on fundamental questions of workers’ wages and retirement security in their negotiation on February 8th, the contract expired at midnight on February 14th.
The top issues that members are pushing for include wages and retirement benefits for these essential workers. At a time of chronic short-staffing in healthcare and over 7% inflation, many workers in healthcare and other industries are seeing large wage increases, yet MEG is offering raises of just 0.6% per year for each of the three years of a new agreement.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents nearly 50,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota