Negotiations continue ahead of Minnesota nurses strike deadline

Nurses picked outside Fairview Southdale Hospital03
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association picket outside of Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina on Sept. 14, the last day of a three-day strike. Thousands of nurses are set to walk of the job for a longer strike on Sunday, if contract agreements can't be reached.
Matt Sepic | MPR News file

Minnesota nurses and several hospital systems are set continue bargaining on new contracts this week — ahead of a potential strike by some 15,000 union nurses.

The Minnesota Nurses Association has set a strike date for next Sunday, Dec. 11, if agreements have not been reached with 16 hospitals in the Twin Cities metro and the Duluth area.

For most of those hospitals, the union said a potential work stoppage would last for three weeks.

Back in September, nurses went on strike for three days. While bargaining teams at some hospitals have gotten closer on certain issues, like safety, overall gaps remain on wage and staffing issues.

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“I think we can all agree safe staffing is is necessary. I think we have a lot of tools in place to do that. But we’re still negotiating on points of ... how we ensure that,” Children’s Minnesota president and CEO Dr. Marc Gorelick said last Thursday.

Trisha Ochsner has spent 30 years working as a nurse at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis. Ochsner called the staffing situation “horrific.”

“At the negotiation table, their answers remain unchanged. They do not want nurses to be involved in the decision-making process, yet their decisions are leading to the decline and failure of the system,” Ochsner said last week.

The potential strike comes at a time when hospitals are seeing surges in flu and RSV, a common respiratory illness that is particularly dangerous for children and older adults.

Officials at Children’s said last week that the impending walkout was forcing them to start the hiring process for replacement nurses.

Allina Health, one of the other affected hospital systems, also has said it is making plans to continue offering care in the event of a strike. It said more negotiations sessions were planned for Monday and Tuesday.

The union said the following hospitals and systems would be affected by a possible strike:

M Health Fairview system

  • Riverside, Minneapolis

  • Southdale, Edina

  • St. Joseph's, St. Paul

  • St. John's, Maplewood

Essentia Health

  • St. Mary's Duluth

  • St. Mary's Superior, Wis.

Allina Health

  • Abbott Northwestern, Minneapolis

  • Mercy, Coon Rapids

  • United, St. Paul

  • Unity, Fridley

Children’s Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • Children's Minneapolis

  • Children's St. Paul

St. Luke's

  • St. Luke's, Duluth

  • St. Luke’s Lake View, Two Harbors

North Memorial, Robbinsdale

HealthPartners, Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park