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.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
“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.
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
Essentia Health, Duluth area
St. Mary's Duluth
St. Mary's Superior
Essentia Moose Lake
Allina Health, Twin Cities area
Children’s Minnesota, Twin Cities
Children's St. Paul
St. Luke's, Duluth
North Memorial, Twin Cities area
HealthPartners, Twin Cities area