M Health Fairview mental health workers reach tentative deal in first-ever contract

Some 350 mental health workers at M Health Fairview have reached a tentative agreement in their first contract.

The group, which is made up of psychiatric associates and behavioral assistants, voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa in 2021.

According to the press release, this first 1.5-year contract includes immediate wage increases, averaging 6 percent, and an additional 2.75 percent increase in March, as well as increased paid time off.

"Because of our efforts, we reached the best deal possible for our important work and I am proud of what we accomplished," said Jenny Webster, a psych associate, in the release. "So many people have experienced mental health issues themselves or to a loved one, especially during the pandemic. Raising wages and getting a first contract will mean better care for our patients."

The agreement will now go to a vote by members over the coming weeks.

The deal comes as over 130 mental health workers at Allina Health, also joined with SEIU Healthcare, are on a 3-day strike over unfair labor practices. These workers, who are senior mental health coordinators, have said that Allina is creating “deliberate delays at the negotiating table.” Allina Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

M Health Fairview workers were poised to join that walk-out, but postponed after making some progress at the bargaining table.

“We’re pleased to share that after many months of negotiation, we reached a tentative agreement with SEIU, the union representing the Psych Associates, Senior Psych Associates, and Behavioral Assistants at UMMC-West Bank,” said M Health Fairview officials in a statement. “With the help of a skilled federal mediator, we were able to find common ground that is equitable across the team, is sustainable for our organization and keeps the focus where it should be: on our patients.”

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