North Memorial Health Nurses Give Strike Notice
Roughly 15,000 nurses across Minnesota, including those at North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale, could go on strike later this month if they can’t come to terms on a new contract with their respective hospitals.
The Minnesota Nurses Association made the announcement Thursday morning that its member nurses would strike for three days, starting Monday, Sept. 12, at 7 a.m. If the strike occurs, officials say it would be the largest private sector nursing strike in U.S. history.
“They need to see it as the crisis that it is,” said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association and an ICU nurse at North Memorial Health Hospital. “We’ve said over and over that this isn’t something we do lightly, but we’re not going to just sit back and do nothing. We can’t.”
Turner says that more than 40 percent of nurses at North Memorial Health have left since the onset of the pandemic.
Nurses in the metro have negotiated with hospital executives for more than five months, but the two sides remain far apart on issues such as wage increases and staffing levels.
The nurses’ union hopes that the next 10 days will bring about some type of resolution.
“This is a somber day,” Turner said. “If you think we’re ‘yay,’ this is a ‘yip, yip’ for us, it’s not, okay. We are devastated that we have to go to these extremes.”
Meanwhile, the hospital groups issued this joint statement Thursday morning after the union’s announcement:
Statement of Twin Cities Hospitals Group Regarding Nurses’ Union Intent to Strike
We are disappointed the nurses’ union today has rushed into an intent to strike notification and refuses to exhaust all available means to avoid potential disruption to patient care including our repeated offers of an outside mediator. Mediation was successfully used in previous contract talks and we believe it represents a practical way to bring focus and clarity to the negotiations. We encourage the nurses’ union and its supporters to focus on the pathways we’ve successfully used in the past.
We understand the past two years have been hard on everyone in health care. Our care teams all worked exceptionally hard to care for patients and care for each other. Today, our non-profit hospitals continue to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes the pandemic brought to the workforce and our community. Despite the financial challenges to our hospitals, we are proud to have offered our nurses the largest wage increases in 15 years while agreeing to keep nurses’ benefits unchanged for the life of the contract. The nurses’ union continued demands for wage increases of more than 30 percent remain unreasonable, unrealistic and unaffordable.
It is important for the public to note: our hospitals are open and will remain open to serve the community. We will continue our efforts at the negotiating table to reach reasonable agreements and avoid any actions that would interrupt patient care. We assume the union will do the same. We remain committed to serving our community and keeping our focus on the patients we serve.