MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KMSP) - After negotiating for 40 hours over three days to reach an agreement, thousands of striking nurses voted Monday to reject the latest contract proposal from Allina Health.
The vote result means the nurses will continue their strike, which began on Labor Day, until an agreement can be reached. The strike includes nurses from Abbott Northwestern and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United in St. Paul, Mercy in Coon Rapids and Unity in Fridley. The group is demanding improved staffing, security and to retain their nurses-only health care plan.
The most recent contract proposal from Allina offered nurses a $1,000 bonus should they enroll in Allina’s core insurance plans in 2017 and 2018. It also includes a $500 retention bonus should the nurses stay until 2017. However, if the nurses had voted yes, they also agree to drop the approximately 30 unfair labor practices charges filed against Allina Health since negotiations started in February.
“The nurses felt although some progress was made in negotiations with Allina, it wasn’t enough progress,” Angela Becchetti, a nurse and member of the negotiating team for the Minnesota Nurses Association said. “Nurses felt that the proposal took more away from nurses than it offered. Nurses said they would end their affordable healthcare plans in the year 2020, but they haven’t been adequately compensated for it.”
The proposal also included a fulltime security guard in the emergency rooms, face-to-face workplace safety training, a staffing committee and an HSA/HRA account.
“If Allina felt that nurses would accept anything just to return to work in October and get our health insurance back, they were mistaken.” Becchetti said in a statement. “This vote should tell Allina that nurses are strong and willing to hold out for a contract that resects their sacrifice and their profession.”
In a statement issued Monday night, Allina Health said they are willing to return to the negotiating table if the nurses’ union can come back with a proposal that “moves us toward an agreement.”
Statement from Allina Health
Allina Health issued the following statement Monday evening in response to the latest contract rejection:
The Minnesota Nurses Association announced this evening that nurses at the five striking Allina Health hospitals have voted to reject our latest contract proposal. We offered a wage increase, bonuses, a smooth transition to a sustainable insurance plan and workplace safety provisions the union proposed. This proposal was eminently fair and went very far in addressing the issues the union raised during negotiations. We are disappointed that our nurses will remain on strike instead of returning to the bedside to care for patients.
Our top priority is continuing to provide the level of high-quality care that our staff and replacement nurses have been providing since September 5th.
The union has rejected this proposal, and now they must come back with a proposal that moves us toward an agreement. Allina Health is prepared to return to the negotiating table as soon as the union informs us that they have a proposal intended to do that. Our hope is that we can start focusing on issues in ways that help us reach agreement, rather than driving us farther apart.
Allina Health will continue to seek solutions to this and other challenges that help us transform health care for the good of our patients and the communities we serve. That means focusing on models that are sustainable for the long term, and help all of us focus on the meaningful work that makes a positive difference in our patients’ lives. Our latest proposal was consistent with that approach. We hope the union will work with us to achieve an outcome that is in the best long-term interests of its members and the communities we collectively serve.