Nearly 5,000 Allina Health nurses begin open-ended strike

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Nearly 5,000 Allina Health nurses walked off the job at 7 a.m. on Labor Day after the nurses union failed to agree to a new contract with Allina. 

Nearly 5,000 nurses at five different hospitals in the Twin Cities walked off the job Monday morning after failing to agree to a new contract with Allina Health.

The main sticking points are health insurance, workplace safety and staffing levels. The Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health held last minute negotiations over the weekend to try to settle the dispute, but no deal was reached. The open-ended strike began at 7 a.m.

At a press conference held Monday, nurse’s union officials claimed Allina walked away from the marathon talks on Saturday, just as the parties had seemed to be close to an agreement.

“We’re here because Allina Health forced us to be here,” MNA representatives said.

Allina officials said Monday the last offer made to the nurses was fair and they believe an agreement can be reached.

This is the second strike by Allina nurses since negotiations began in February. The nurses also held a weeklong strike in June after the two parties failed to reach an agreement.

The hospitals affected by the strike are all part of Minneapolis-based Allina Health -- Abbott Northwestern and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United in St. Paul, Unity in Fridley and Mercy in Coon Rapids.

Allina Health has hired about 1,500 traveling nurses to replace those walking the picket lines. At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Allina said the transition to using the temporary nurses has gone smoothly so far. According to Allina many of the replacement nurses also worked during the strike in June and are already familiar with their facilities and how everything works.

According to Allina, 375 nurses represented by the MNA have decided to work and are not participating in the strike.

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