Allina health care workers to strike at Minneapolis, Shakopee hospitals next week

More than 200 health care workers employed by Allina Health are set to strike for two days next week after their initially planned strike in early September was postponed after Allina management threatened legal action regarding any picketing during the strike.

The group’s two-day Unfair Labor Practice strike will begin at 6 a.m. October 5 until 6 a.m. October 7 at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Over 90% of the members voted in support of the strike last month.

“We're ready to go out on strike and we're more determined than ever to stand up for what is right. Both for our families and our patients, we are unified to finally see the changes we've been seeking for years,” said Kia Pille, a radiologic technologist at St. Francis for nearly 19 years.

“Despite management’s maneuvers and apparent scare tactics, we remain ready to move forward next week with this strike if Allina doesn't come to the table with a fair proposal."

Their union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, filed a 10-day notice late last week. Striking union members at St. Francis include medical lab technicians, polysomnographer technicians, surgical techs, respiratory therapists, diagnostics techs. Striking union members at Abbott Northwestern Hospital are radiology technologists in numerous specialty areas.

There will be a bargaining session with management and the St. Francis group on Wednesday before the strike dates.

Union members and Allina management have bargained eight times since May and remain divided on key issues, which includes whether contract language will provide adequate safety protections and ensure pay and benefits for potential exposures to COVID-19.

The workers currently have a temporary agreement for the first time they have to quarantine, but in the last month multiple workers had to use time earned under the contract before the pandemic when exposed to COVID-19 for a second time, according to SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

"We were asking for better pay and safety for workers and patients before, but after these moves by Allina management our group is unified in demanding these changes. We have been fighting so long to be treated equally with others in Allina and our hospital, even before COVID, and now with Allina's stunt we're seeing even more solidarity from others in the hospital," Pille said.