Nurses settle all metro area hospital contracts
Informational pickets, strike vote, led to bargaining gains
|Abbott Northwestern Hospital, May 29: Informational picket line.
Updated from the Minneapols Labor Review, June 28, 2019
MINNEAPOLIS — After a long, overnight negotiating session, nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with North Memorial Health hospitals.
The settlement, announced June 27 by MNA, was nurses’ the final outstanding metro area hospital contract.
The nurse bargaining committee recommended ratification and a vote by North Memorial nurses was scheduled for July 2.
“Our nurses have worked hard to get this agreement,” said Mary C. Turner, an intensive care unit nurse at North and MNA president. “Nurses were able to get language that protects them from retaliation if they miss a break and doesn't force them to juggle patient care with keeping up on mandatory education.”
(The lone contract yet unsettled at as the Labor Review went to press June 21 was the North Memorial Hospital contract.)
Nurses’ contracts at several Twin Cities hospital systems expired May 31.
Workplace safety and health insurance were top concerns in negotiations.
In a show of solidarity, MNA nurses walked informational picket lines May 23 and May 29 at eight Twin Cities hospitals.
Then, June 13, nurses at Children’s Hospitals voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest offer by Children’s Hospitals of Minnesota and authorize their negotiating team to call a strike.
Two days later, after a 21-hour bargaining session, the nurse negotiators and Children’s Hospitals negotiators reached a settlement June 15.
Other settlements followed, largely along the same lines: three-year contracts, providing raises of 3 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year, 2.25 percent the third year.
June 18, MNA announced settlements with the Fairview, Methodist, and HealthEast hospital systems.
The following day, June 19, MNA announced a settlement with Allina Health hospitals, including Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United, and Unity.
June 20, Children’s Hospital nurses voted overwhelmingly to ratify their agreement.
Votes on the other settled contracts were scheduled for the last week of June.
Children’s Hospitals agreed to cap the rate of increase of the most comprehensive insurance plan to match the increase the employer must pay.
No longer will nurses pay more of rate hikes than the hospital does.
“Nurses are happy that Children’s recognized that the cost of insurance is a concern that affects the hospital’s competitiveness of attracting and retaining nurses,” said Michelle Cotterell, a sedation nurse at Children’s Minneapolis campus.
Nurses had come to an agreement with the metro hospitals earlier in the month on the issue of workplace violence. MNA nurses were able to push hospitals to recognize they needed new provisions, including language that prevents a nurse from continuing to care for a patient who has assaulted him or her, three days paid time off for serious injuries before worker’s compensation pay takes effect, and immediate debriefs after a violent incident to allow for investigation and prevention of future assaults.
“Nurses have been telling hospitals how dangerous their units have become for a few years,” said Ericka Helling, a Registered Nurse at Fairview Southdale and negotiating team member. “We’ve finally gotten them to realize that violence is real. It’s an issue for nurses, patients, and other healthcare workers. This is a good start to address this issue.”
For the Allina contracts, MNA reported, the biggest takeaway is workplace violence language that meets and exceeds what other hospitals agreed to with their nurses.
“It took a long time, but we’ve all finally recognized that workplace violence is an ongoing issue,” said Emily Sippola, a Registered Nurse at United and negotiator. “This will be considered as pivotal in protecting nurses and patients, and we will continue to address violence in our hospitals moving forward.”
“Nurses are relieved to get this agreement,” said Angela Becchetti, a Registered Nurse at Abbott Northwestern and a member of the negotiating team. “Nurses’ contract gains were almost exclusively focused on provisions that allow nurses to provide safer and higher quality patient care.”
“We made it clear that Methodist nurses deserve to be valued as much as any other nurse in the Metro,” said Lori Christian, a Registered Nurse at Methodist and part of the MNA bargaining team. “We deserve fair wages to help nurses keep up with the rising costs of living, and nurses have put up with sub-par pay for the past 10 years,” Christian said.
Altogether, the MNA’s metro nurse contracts cover about 13,000 nurses.