As a valued partner to Allina Health, we are committed to providing you with the latest information on our on-going contract negotiation with the Minnesota Nurses Association who represents the 4,800 nurses who work at Abbott Northwestern, United, Mercy and Unity Hospitals, as well as the Phillips Eye Institute. We are greatly disappointed that the union took the extreme measure to once again ask the nurses to walk away from bedside care, beginning an open-ended strike on Labor Day morning.
First and foremost, I want to assure you that we are continuing to deliver on our promise to provide high quality care to the patients and communities who rely on us to do so every minute of every day.
Our hospitals are running at normal capacity. All of the emergency departments are fully staffed and operational. For the few changes that have been made, patients are being contacted.
We are fully prepared to staff our hospitals for the duration of this event:
- We have recruited 1,500 highly trained replacement nurses, half of whom worked in our facilities during the strike in June. Plans are in place for waves of relief staffing should that become necessary.
- Hundreds of our nurses have chosen to work instead of follow the union on strike. The number of nurses choosing to work is significantly higher than in June and continues to grow each day.
- We have reached into other parts of the Allina Health system to help support the hospitals during this time. These frontline providers are cross-trained and familiar with our systems and protocols.
- Nurses are joined on the care team by physicians, therapists, aides, social workers, pharmacists and other care providers.
We also want you to have the latest information on the negotiations. Unfortunately, after a marathon 22-hour negotiation session last Friday an agreement was not able to be reached in time to avoid a strike. Be assured that Allina Health did everything it could to put a fair offer on the table that more than met the union half way on their key concerns on work place safety and staffing issues, including agreeing to a 24/7 security guard in the Emergency Departments.
What we were not able to overcome was the union’s position that any phase-out of the current nurse only health insurance plans would include the following provisions:
- Insulation from future health insurance cost increases; and
- Granting the union unique authority over the current health plans that already cover 30,000 Allina Health employees and their families.
While we have demonstrated great flexibility in trying to meet the unions concerns on a range of topics (including health insurance), we cannot agree to a proposal that would shift cost increases onto the rest of the Allina Health employees and the community that pays for care. For more details, please find a comparison of the last proposals here.
We are always available to answer questions so please do not hesitate to reach out at any time. Finally, Dr. Wheeler continues to make it clear that we would like nothing more than to have our nurses back at the bedside providing care to patients. It is our hope that can happen as soon as possible. Thank you for your continued engagement with us during these challenging circumstances.