Up to 4,800 Twin Cities nurses set to walk off the job

- Up to 4,800 Twin Cities nurses are set to walk off the job Sunday, in an ongoing contract dispute with Allina Health.

While the union wants security and nurse to patient ratio addressed, the primary dispute is over health insurance.

Allina wants to transition nurses to the same coverage plan that the rest of its employees use, saying it will save the company $10 million a year. But nurses say that will mean more out-of-pocket costs.

“We’ve given up stuff in the past to keep these plans,” said Allina nurse Angela Becchetti. “Now what they’re asking us to go to is the Allina plans that have higher deductibles and higher out of pocket costs.”

Allina Health spokesperson David Kanihan said they just want to get all employees on the “same comprehensive, affordable coverage being used by 30,000 other Allina Health employees and their families, including paramedics, physical therapists, nursing assistants, physicians and many others.”

Kanihan went on to say, “The union has used misinformation to inaccurately characterize these insurance plans, and is trying to scare our nurses into rejecting them.”

Barring last minute negotiations, the Minnesota Nurses Association will begin a week-long strike this Sunday. Allina is preparing for the strike by bringing in 1,400 replacement nurses from all over the country.

Replacements are already making their way to the Twin Cities, as they will get trained on policy and procedure ahead of Sunday.

“If you take a replacement nurse in who doesn’t know our protocol--our safety--and how we run on a day to day basis, that’s a lot for them to learn,” said Becchettii. “No one is going to know the patients or the hospital like their own nurses.”

Allina Health says operations will generally remain the same during the week-long strike. The only hospital that will scale back is Unity Hospital in Fridley, but Kanihan said that’s mostly because demand has scaled back.

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