Twin Cities, Duluth nurses set 3-day strike starting Sept. 12

A group of people wears red and holds picket signs.
Nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center hold an informational picket outside the hospital Monday, Aug. 22. On Thursday, union leaders set a Sept. 12 strike date as contract negotiations continue.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Updated 12:30 p.m.

The union representing some 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Duluth said Thursday it will launch a three-day strike against 16 hospitals starting Sept. 12.

The decision comes weeks after union leaders said their members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.

The Minnesota Nurses Association leaders say they believe this is the largest private-sector nurses strike in U.S. history, and likely the largest in state history.

Negotiations are ongoing, so it’s still possible a walkout can be avoided, but nursing leaders Thursday described current circumstances as a crisis.

“The hospitals will tell you that there is a nursing shortage and they are unable to hire nurses. There is no nursing shortage in Minnesota. Just a shortage of nurses willing to work in this unsafe environment where we cannot give the quality care that we know our patients deserve,” Children's Minnesota nurse Tracey Dittrich told reporters as the union announced its strike plan Thursday morning.

In addition to staffing, the union says wage increases and nurse retention are concerns among nurses. Hospital administrators have said they are offering several percentage point raises to nurses and they've tried to address the other issues.

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Nurses have been working without a contract since early summer.

In a statement, the affected hospitals in the Twin Cities said they will remain open and that negotiators would continue to work toward “reasonable agreements and avoid any actions that would interrupt patient care.”

In a separate statement, Allina Health said it was disappointed by the union’s decision to “rush to a strike before exhausting all options” and that talk had “made progress this week.”

The hospital system said it’s offered a pay and benefits package that includes an 11 percent wage increase over three years along with a commitment to workplace safety and recruitment and retention.

The union said these are the hospitals and systems facing a strike:

M Health Fairview system, Twin Cities area

  • Riverside

  • Southdale

  • St. Joseph's

  • St. John's

Essentia Health, Duluth area

  • St. Mary's Duluth

  • St. Mary's Superior

  • Essentia Moose Lake

Allina Health, Twin Cities area

  • Abbott Northwestern

  • Mercy

  • United

  • Unity

Children’s Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • Children's Minneapolis

  • Children's St. Paul

St. Luke's, Duluth

  • St. Luke's

North Memorial, Twin Cities area

  • North Memorial

HealthPartners, Twin Cities area

  • Methodist