Updated Sep 2, 2022 - News

15,000 Minnesota nurses announce plans to strike

Illustration of hands in medical gloves holding red picket signs, forming a red cross symbol.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Most of Minnesota's largest hospitals are calling for replacement nurses as they brace for a potential massive strike in nine days.

Driving the news: The Minnesota Nurses Association announced Wednesday its intent to strike for three days starting Sept. 12.

  • With as many as 15,000 nurses at 16 hospitals impacted, they say it would be the largest private sector nursing strike in national history.

Yes, but: Hospital groups have filed unfair labor practice charges against the union for refusing mediation and are asking the National Labor Relations Board to stop the strike.

Why it matters: The strike would hit 13 of the state's 25 largest hospitals, including eight of the 10 largest in the Twin Cities area.

  • A 2010 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that in-hospital mortality increased by 19.4% during strikes.

State of play: Nurses and hospitals have been negotiating a new contract since March. Their previous three-year contract expired May 31.

  • Nurses say they're still far apart from management on wages, staffing levels and support.

Zoom in: Negotiations differ slightly with each hospital, but the MNA is asking for a 30% pay increase over the next three years, noting high levels of inflation.

  • Health systems are proposing between 10% and 12% more pay over three years.
  • The nurses union say their main focus is staffing levels as the pandemic has left them "understaffed and overworked."

The other side: A spokesperson for several Twin Cities hospitals said the 30% wage increase proposals "remain unreasonable, unrealistic and unaffordable."

What you need to know: Hospitals that might be affected by the strike include M Health Fairview Southdale and Riverside, Park Nicollet Methodist, Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, United, Children's Minneapolis and St. Paul, and North Memorial. (Full list)

  • A spokesperson for Allina — one of seven health systems in negotiations — said it has "plans in place to continue providing care throughout the duration of the work stoppage."
  • It's still not clear if any of the health systems will halt elective procedures if the strike occurs.

Flashback: The union's members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike last month.

What to watch: A strike could be averted if labor leaders and hospital officials strike a deal before Sept. 12.

  • "I anticipate the amount of time we're going to spend at the table should increase exponentially," MNA president Mary Turner told reporters Thursday. "They need to see it as the crisis that it is."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting on the potential strike.

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