October 4, 2022
Thousands of Minnesota nurses begin 3-day strike over pay

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Thousands of nurses in Minnesota began a three-day strike on Monday, pressing for a pay increase they say will help improve patient care by easing stress that has worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

About 15,000 nurses went out in seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas, a number the union says is the largest strike ever by private sector nurses. Affected hospitals said they had recruited temporary nurses and expected to retain most of the services.

Scores of nurses began a 7 a.m. protest outside Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, one of the 15 affected hospitals. Many wearing red T-shirts from the Minnesota Nurses Association and with slogans like “Something to give” said their main concern was patient safety.

Tracy Dietrich, 50, a registered nurse at the hospital for nearly 24 years, said nurses are “tired of hospital administrators and managers asking us to do more.” He said hospitals needed more nurses and more support staff, and higher salaries would help.

“There are shifts where you have three seriously ill patients, and you have to decide which patient will get the care,” Dietrich said. “I work with people all the time who go home every day and feel terrible because one child has to wait a long time for medicine, or another child has to wait a long time for an IV. Another child probably had to wait for the breathalyzer treatment because we couldn’t reach all of them early enough.

Union spokesman Sam Fetig said the nurses chose the three-day strike instead out of concern for the patients.

Hospitals have offered 10-12 per cent wage increases over three years, but nurses are demanding more than 30 per cent. Hospital leaders described their wage demands as not affordable, noting that Alina and Fairview Hospitals posted operating losses and that the cost of such a sharp wage increase would be passed along to patients.

Several hospitals in Twin Cities under strike said in a joint statement, “The union rejected all requests for arbitration and held fast to unrealistic, unreasonable and ineffective wage demands.”

People with emergency issues should continue to call 911 or go to emergency rooms, the statement said. It said people may see some delay in treatment, despite staffing hospitals with “experienced nurse managers, trained replacement nurses and some existing passenger nurses”.

Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, billed as the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the US, said more nurses across the country are pushing back and that most job actions share the same core issues. – revolves around staffing and salary. ,

“The pandemic has done a lot to shed light, clarify and shine a light on what life is like in hospitals and what nurses are expected to do, which is very little,” Ross said. “We have to have a bottom line where you can’t send another patient on that nurse.”

Kathy Misk, another registered nurse at Children’s, works in case management and helps families care for their child at home from hospital care. Misk said a shortage of nurses sometimes requires keeping “high-tech” kids — who need special equipment to breathe, for example — from going home as soon as possible. He said raising wages could help the hospital keep nurses on staff.

“You don’t hire low-paid nurses,” Misk said. “When you incentivize nurses with a salary, what are you telling them that they have what they deserve, and are able to stay in a job.”

When asked about Misk’s statement that some children did not go home as soon as possible, children’s spokesman Nick Peterson said that children are admitted or discharged “based on the expert judgment of the medical professionals who care for them.” take care.”

The hospitals affected by the strike are operated by Alina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it is Essentia and St. Luke.

Separately, in Wisconsin, a potential three-day strike by nurses at UW Health, one of the state’s largest health systems, that was due to begin Tuesday was postponed when an agreement was reached between nurses and the UW Hospital Board. Gone. Details were not immediately released.

The Minnesota nurses’ strike comes amid a surge in union activity nationwide.

A national railroad strike could begin on Friday unless Congress takes steps to stop it. The two largest railroad unions are demanding that major freight carriers go ahead with the proposed deal recommended by arbitrators appointed by President Joe Biden.

Some high-profile companies, including Starbucks, are among those to try. suppress the efforts of unionization, Since late last year, more than 230 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, which Starbucks opposes.

Ehlke reported from suburban Milwaukee. Steve Karnovsky in Minneapolis contributed to this report. Ahmed is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.

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