Thousands of Minnesota nurses vote on whether to strike Wednesday

MNA Nurses Picketing in Duluth
MNA Nurses Picketing in Duluth(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 9:27 AM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Thousands of nurses across Minnesota will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize a second strike.

The vote comes as negotiations with the 15,000 Minnesota Nurses Association members and hospital executives have not panned out after the last strike in September.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re here today and that we haven’t made more progress in our negotiations,” said MNA First Vice President and Essentia Nurse Chris Rubesch.

About 2,000 Twin Ports nurses are expected to cast their ballots at Duluth’s Labor Temple throughout the day Wednesday.

Back in September, MNA nurses voted to leave the bedside for three days following a 10-day notice to hospitals, according to state law.

The MNA made the announcement on November 17 that they would hold a second possible strike vote. According to the MNA, for a strike to be approved, two-thirds of members have to vote in favor of it.

Nurses have been negotiating with 15 hospitals across the state, including St. Luke’s and Essentia Health in Duluth, for around eight months. 2,000 nurses in the Twin Ports have been meeting at the table since June.

Negotiations have made some progress since the first strike in September but Rubesch says there’s still a ways to go before a deal is struck

“We’ve had some some constructive conversations and that’s given me a lot of hope,” he said, “But we continue to have major disagreements over responsibility of patient care and we are hearing and seeing from our members that nurses are ultimately responsible for the care they give to patients at the bedside.”

St. Luke’s Nurse Larissa Hubbartt said the hospital has come closer on their staffing proposal, which remains the highest priority for the MNA.

“They have come our way a little bit on staffing. There’s still a lot more to go,” she said, “We’re still working towards better long-term retention of nurses.”

Leaders at Essentia Health sent a memo Monday on their thoughts and efforts at the bargaining table with MNA nurses.

“We do not believe a strike is in anyone’s best interest”, the memo said, “(Essentia wants) the union to explore all possible options at the bargaining table with us before asking nurses to strike.”

Nurses at Lakeview Hospital in Two Harbors will be included in the vote Wednesday.

Essentia reached a deal with MNA nurses in Moose Lake earlier this week. They did not reveal exactly what was in the contract deal but said it nurses would vote on ratification on December 9.

Essentia Health’s full statement and fact sheets can be found here.

If Nurses vote to authorize a strike, it’s not yet clear when and how long it would be.

Both hospitals have another negotiating session scheduled for Thursday December 1.

“We’re certainly hoping that this powerful message brings our employers back to the table and recognizes that we’re not going to stop until we get the protections for our patients and our licenses,” Rubesch said.