MINNEAPOLIS – 85 Senior Mental Health Coordinators at Abbott Northwestern Hospital voted Wednesday to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, joining a wave of union organizing happening in Minnesota. This is the third Allina group to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota in the past month, along with the 350-person group of mental health workers at M-Health who formed their union earlier this month. In just the last month nearly 500 healthcare workers have joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota to win better patient care, safer working conditions and more respect from their employers.
Katey Sierra, who has worked at Allina for five-and-a-half years, shared what this victory meant to this group of workers:
“The overwhelming margin of victory solidifies how we feel as a group and how we want better from Allina and management. Getting a 99% “yes” vote shows we care about each other, we care about our patients and we care about improving our jobs. I voted yes because I’ve been denied raises, denied sick time, denied benefits and I believe strongly in workers rights and having our voice heard,” said Sierra. “The fact that we’ve been called heroes but not treated that way by Allina has been a big thing we’ve had to recognize. We are tired of Allina taking advantage of non-contract work. I’m excited we will have a seat at the table and we’re ready to fight to use our expertise to help improve our workplace for both workers and patients.”
The group, who normally would have more than 100 people strong, have been working short-staffed throughout the pandemic. Like the M-Health Fairview group, the main focus of the push has been around safety concerns – particularly by staff dealing with assaults on a frequent basis and the lack of responsiveness by management. Workers also highlighted that Allina executives – who were able to work safely from home – froze wages, cut benefits and forced the workers they continually called “heroes” into dangerously unsafe staffing conditions.
Kate LeMay, who has worked as a Senior Mental Health Coordinator at Allina for four years, shared her excitement at the vote:
“Since the pandemic started, so many of us have started to realize how much we are worth and that we have been taken advantage of for far too long. I’m so happy we won this vote today so we can have a unified voice in making sure we all can be safe at work,” said LeMay. “In my time here there has always been chatter about forming a union, but with the new rules I’m so thankful we finally were able to have a fair election where we won by such a large margin. I’m from a union family, so I know the power of having unity and having one voice for making sure we all are safe at work. I am proud to now be a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota!”
The wave of organizing looks to be continuing, with two more groups of mental health workers at M-Health Fairview and Allina hospitals recently filing petitions to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites nearly 50,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.