ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Nearly 2,000 health care workers have voted to authorize a strike that will affect approximately 30 HealthPartners facilities across the Twin Cities.
Representatives from the Service Employees International Union announced the results of the strike vote at a press conference Friday morning. The seven-day walkout will begin Feb. 19 if the two sides do not reach an agreement before then.
SEIU represents 1,800 members, including nurses, dental hygienists, laboratory technicians and physician’s assistants.
Union members said HealthPartners is proposing changes to its health care benefits that would increase costs.
"Health partners should be working with Minnesotans to increase quality health care, not to take away from their front line health care workers who just want to provide quality patient care,” Jean Pharr, a HealthPartners registered nurse said. “It's time for Health Partners to come back to the table and settle this contract. If not, we're willing to strike to show how serious we are.”
In a statement, HealthPartners called Friday’s vote announcement “disappointing.”
“The modest changes we proposed to their health plan would support better health and encourage our colleagues to get care in high-quality, more affordable settings,” the statement read. “We believe this is a fair and reasonable proposal, especially given the financial headwinds facing the health care industry.”
HealthPartners said it remains committed to reaching an agreement on a new contract, but it is up to the federal mediator to call both parties back to the table.