MINNEAPOLIS – A group of over 500 Allina Health workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa will head out on a 7-day unfair labor practice (ULP) strike starting Monday, May 15th if no deal is reached with Allina Health. The union is filing the required 10-day notice with the employer announcing their intention to strike today following multiple days of bargaining this week. So far across the different groups there have been over 90 bargaining sessions and none of the groups have reached a first union contract.
At Thursday's press conference, SEIU Healthcare MN & IA Executive Vice President Brenda Hilbrich announced the news after another week of bargaining that saw a lack of movement:
"Today we are announcing that we are filing a 10-day notice and that if we don't see progress, these workers will go out on a 7-day ULP strike starting on Monday, May 15th. These workers do different jobs and are bargaining at a few different tables, but are united in standing up for what is right for healthcare workers and our patients. After over 90 bargaining sessions over the last year-plus, it's time to end the games, end the ULPs, end the blocking of getting these workers the wages and PTO they need. These workers are so dedicated to doing what is right for their patients, but they can't do that work if they aren't being supported. They can't do that work if they are burnt out or if their co-workers are quitting. Enough is enough."
Over 500 professional frontline healthcare workers employed by Allina Health voted overwhelmingly with over 98% support to authorize their bargaining teams to call an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike if Allina continues to refuse to reach fair contracts for these essential workers.
Alycia Garubanda, a speech language pathologist at Abbott Northwestern for five years and member of the SEIU bargaining team, shared why it is so critical for these essential workers to get fair first contracts:
"I love caring for my patients and the incredible team I work with. We have to make very critical decisions every day about quality of life issues for our patients. I have to help decide if they can safely eat or drink. We talk about health risks that could lead to re-hospitalization. We have scary, hard medical decisions with our co-workers to make sure our patients are safe. I'm ready to strike because I am tired. We've been bargaining for over a year and have exhausted all avenues. We feel like we haven't made anywhere near the progress we need on wages and PTO. Our proposals are a baseline to keeping and sustaining that level of quality care we know we can provide. Without basic job security and protections, we're going to lose so many good people. We need to see action. It's been far too long. If we don't see the changes we need to see, we'll be ready to go on a 7-day ULP strike on May 15th to stand up for ourselves and our patients."
Another speaker Thursday was Becka Erickson, a medical laboratory scientist for 8 years at the Allina Central lab and member of the SEIU bargaining team, who shared why she is ready to strike:
"Our work is critical to patient care, even if many people don't know exactly what we do compared to other healthcare jobs. I've heard that 70-80 percent of medical decisions are based on lab results, so having enough people to do this work is a critical part of patient care. Our work is key to making sure people get the care they need. Even as we've dealt with a global pandemic, Allina eliminated our wage increase and for a time cut our 401K contributions. We didn't get any hazard pay during COVID like others did. We are already underpaid, and these moves hurt even more. These moves make us feel undervalued and it's hard to bring people in. We deserve more recognition and respect. We deserve to be valued by our employer. We've come to the bargaining table. We've held an informational picket. We've been at this for over a year. It's time for action or we're going on this 7-day ULP strike."
Kellie Benson, a Senior Mental Health Coordinator for over 5 years at Allina Abbott Northwestern and member of the bargaining team, spoke about the fact that May is Mental Health Month and Allina mental health workers could be out on the picket line once again:
"May is mental health awareness month and the one-year anniversary of the senior mental health coordinators first strike. Society talks a lot about the importance of mental health, but this is not reflected in actions to improve the current conditions by those who have the power to make change. To provide the best care to patients in crisis, Allina must focus on staff retention. This starts with getting a fair first contract in place. Striking is not what any of us want to do. The decision to go on strike is one made with great consideration and care. Unfortunately, we have been pushed to a point where striking has become imminent. We stand together, we stand strong, and we are ready to strike."
Sites that could be impacted by a potential strike include Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Mercy and Unity Hospitals and Allina Central Lab.
The workers do various jobs across Allina, including:
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Language Pathologists
- Senior Mental Health Coordinators
- Medical Lab Scientists
- Medical Lab Technicians
- Cytogenetic Technologists
- Lab Tech Assistants
- Lab Assistants