MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Allina Health is offering its nurses a new contract proposal and has invited Minnesota Nurses Association union representatives back to the bargaining table following a 7-day strike. The union told Fox 9 they were "surprised" to hear of a new offer, adding that approximately 200 nurses still haven't been called back to work.
On June 19, about 4,800 nurses began picketing outside Abbott Northwestern, Phillips Eye Institute, Mercy, United and Unity hospitals, all operated by Allina Health.
One of the major points of contention is a possible change to nurses’ health insurance. Allina says its new offer extends the two most-most nurse-only health insurance plans to Dec. 31, 2019. After that date, all nurses would move to plans that offered to all Allina employees.
Allina says its new offer also includes "much of the union's most recent proposal on workplace safety, including the opportunity for focused workplace safety discussions via the Labor-Management Committees."
"Now that our nurses are back at the bedside, we need to get back to the bargaining table," said Allina Health President and CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler. "The proposal we are making today shows Allina Health is prepared to have an open, constructive dialog on the issues that both have identified as important to an agreement. I sincerely hope the union agrees to meet with us as soon as possible this week so we can move forward."
Allina hired more than 1,000 replacement nurses to work during the strike.
Nurses from the Minnesota Nurses Association say, however, they are "outraged" by the new contract proposal as they learned about the offer through the media and Allina Health and not through the elected negotiating team members. They released the following statement in regards to the new offer:
“Nurses will review the latest Allina proposal, but they are disappointed in Allina’s attempt to negotiate through the media and around their elected bargaining team representatives. Instead, Allina issued a proposal to the public when they knew nurses were back to the bedside. It’s another example of refusing to talk to the nurses and truly discuss any proposal with them that illustrates that they care about the nurses' health, nurse safety, or staffing levels. Our position has been clear from the beginning – nurses will not take a step backward economically in the next contract.”
MNA also says about 200 nurses have not been called back to work due to low patient volumes at at Unity Hospital in Fridley and United Hospital in St. Paul.