Nurses Begin 3-Day Strike Outside North Memorial Health Hospital
Around 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth walked off the job on Monday. That included more than 300 nurses who walked the picket line outside North Memorial Health Hospital on Monday.
The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and area hospitals have been negotiating for six months without agreement over wage increases and staffing issues.
After negotiations over the weekend, the union representing nurses agreed to strike but didn’t produce new three-year contracts.
“Last week, we met twice with the employers. We worked until late at night, and they were not able to reach an agreement,” said Shiori Konda-Muhammad, a cardiac nurse.
MNA leaders are calling the labor action the largest private sector nursing strike in U.S. history.
Hospital officials say they are sorry to see the nurses’ union take this action.
“We’re disappointed in everything that they’ve done. We’ve felt they’ve rushed into this all along, and this strike is on the union, and union alone,” said Paul Omodt, spokesperson for Twin Cities Hospitals Group.
One of the major sticking points is pay increases. The union is asking for a 30 percent increase over the next three years. Hospital management officials say the wage demands are “unrealistic.”
“Our current offers are 11 and 12 percent, and we’ve told them we’re willing to go higher than that,” explained Omodt. “We have hospitals that we represent that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars so far in 2022 alone.”
The Minnesota Nurses Association also says it is concerned about the work environment and patient safety because many hospital units are understaffed.
Meanwhile, the Twin Cities Hospitals Group say they plan to have adequate staff during the three-day strike. Replacement nurses were brought in and moved some non-essential surgeries to next week.
“We’ll continue to make adjustments. Our care teams are working around the clock to make sure all of our patients are cared for,” said Omodt.
The strike is scheduled to last until early Thursday morning. Currently, there are no negotiations planned during the strike period.
“We’d rather be working with patients right now. We don’t want to be out here,” said Konda-Muhammad.