Nurses union holds garage sale for striking Minnesota nurses

Behind the satisfaction of a purging items at a garage sale in Bloomington, Minn., there is plenty of stress. 

“The open ended strike is a worry," Hanna Shibeshi, a nurse at Abbott Northwestern for the past nine years, says. “I have my kids in daycare and I want to hold their spot. I’m paying for daycare but I’m not pulling in an income. I’m lucky I have a husband who is working, but it is still  a financial drain.”

Shibeshi had the idea to put together a garage sale specifically aimed to help the Minnesota Nurses Association nurses on strike. Part of the profits made will help with the finances for nearly a dozen nurses who brought items together to sell. A portion of the profits, including some donations, will go towards the MNA strike fund.

Nurses who can prove they have a financial emergency because of the strike can apply to tap into MNA's $4.3 million strike fund. During the week-long strike in June, the strike fund covered about $60 thousand in nurses expenses.

“Right now we have insurance through the month of September, because we went out on strike after the first of the month.” says Loellen Grzeskowiak, an Abbott Northwestern nurse for the past 31 years.
Come October, nurses on strike will no longer be covered by health insurance

“That becomes a concern, but we are looking at  other resources, says Grzeskowiak. “MNA is putting together what are the options for COBRA, what are the options for Mnsure, is this a qualifying event to get on their spouses insurance at another company.”

According to Allina Health, 413 nurses are choosing to cross the picket line -- that’s four times the number that crossed during the strike in June. 
“That's a big jump from June and that is a number that is literally growing every single day,” says David Kanihan, spokesman for Allina Health. “For example 20 percent of nurses at unity hospital have agreed to come back to work, cross the picket line and come back to help take care of patients. We think that sends a  message that a significant and growing number of  nurses are rejecting this strike.”

Nurses working to make extra money during the garage sale in Bloomington disagree and say for the sake of the strike, and the union, they are willing to sacrifice.

“Until Allina can sit down the, MNA negotiating team and bargain in good faith,  and settle a good contract that nurses are happy with,  I will be out on strike,” Shibeshi says. 

The MNA Nurse  Garage sale at France Ave and W. 114th Street in Bloomington will run through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturday, there will also be a bake sale and a lemonade stand.