MINNEAPOLIS -- Thousands of Minnesota nurses will strike for three days later this month, the Minnesota Nurses Association said Thursday.
The strike, which will begin Sept. 12, will involve 15,000 nurses at 16 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth. Leaders said this is the largest nursing strike in U.S. history.
Union leaders said they have filed the requisite 10-day notice with hospital employers. Last month, 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth
"We are called to be caring for patients. To go on strike, that's just one more moral injury that we have to hold in our hearts because we do it so unwillingly," MNA President Mary Turner said when the strike vote happened. "We don't want to be so called 'abandoning our patients,' but we see our fight as fighting for our patients."
Nurses have worked for months without a contract as negotiations continue with hospital executives. Twin Cities have been without a contract since the end of May, and the contract for nurses near Duluth expired at the end of June.
Union leaders say nurses are overworked, hospitals are understaffed and patients are overcharged. Nurses are demanding a 30% pay hike, recognition bonuses, mental health benefits and increased security.
ICU nurse Emily Allen says since the pandemic, nurses have been leaving the profession or become traveling nurses, where they can double their hourly wages.
"What they have been offering is barely covering our cost of living," she said.
Allina Health said in a statement that they had made progress at the negotiating table this past week.
"We are disappointed the union is choosing to rush to a strike before exhausting all options, like engaging a mediator in negotiations which they have repeatedly rejected," Allina Health said. "The union's premature decision to move forward with a work stoppage is not Allina Health's desired outcome of our negotiations."
Nurses are also fighting. Just earlier this week, Children's Minnesota in Minneapolis was put on lockdown following another armed robbery outside the hospital. Abbott Northwestern was hit by gunfire as security officers were in a shootout with a man they say had a gun on campus. No one was injured.
"This is what we are asking for: safety. We are asking for staffing. They go hand in hand," Tracy Ducksworth, a mental health nurse at M Health Fairview, said. "I cannot effectively care for you, I cannot keep you safe, if I am not safe. I cannot care for you and keep you alive and keep you healthy if I am not healthy myself."
Six years ago, a bitter Twin Cities nurses strike against Allina Health lasted 44 days. Nurses hope the 3-day strike will send a message to top hospital executives who they say continue to rake in multi-million dollar salaries.
MNA: Hospitals making "desperate attempt" to prevent strike
The Minnesota Nurses Association says "hospital executives" are trying to require the union to file a 30-day strike notice with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services – a move the union says is invalid since BMS has no "jurisdiction over private sector employers."
"If hospital executives want to avoid a strike on September 12, they should spend less time and money on lawyers and more time working with nurses to settle fair contracts to improve patient care and working conditions in our hospitals," said MNA officials.
St. Luke's Hospital: MNA strike is illegal
Hours after the Minnesota Nurses Association announced its intent for thousands of nurses it represents to strike beginning on Sept. 12, officials from St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth have accused the effort of being illegal.
"MNA has not given proper notice of their intent to strike to appropriate government entitles as required by federal law. Consequently, this strike is illegal," said hospital officials. "St. Luke's, along with several other Minnesota health systems, has filed an unfair labor practice charge."
Hospital officials also say they want MNA to agree to the use of a federal mediator to reach an agreement.
MNA president says health care system is in crisis
Amid the announcement of a three-day strike by thousands of nurses later this month, Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner says hospital executives have put the health care system in crisis.
"Hospital executives with million-dollar salaries have created a crisis of retention and care in our health care system, as more nurses are leaving the bedside, putting quality patient care at risk," Turner said. "Nurses do not take decision lightly, but we are determined to take a stand at the bargaining table, and on the sidewalk if necessary, to put patients before profits in our hospitals."