Allina Health doctors vote to unionize

A brick building of a clinic
Allina Health clinic in Hastings, Minn. Physicians with the health system voted to unionize this week.
Tony Webster | Flickr

Hundreds of Allina Health physicians have voted to be represented by a union, becoming what’s believed to be the largest group of unionized private-sector physicians in the country.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, the initial tally was 385-200 in favor of joining the Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD. More than 150 nurse practitioners and physician assistants also voted in the election and are eligible to join the union.

“We really hope through this process to improve various aspects of our working conditions that allows us to be better care providers for our patients and improve the quality of patient care that we are able to provide,” said Dr. Cora Walsh, a family physician with Allina Health.

Walsh said that includes addressing pay and staffing shortages, which have persisted.

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“Post pandemic, we just have not seen recovery because people left health care, and working conditions and pay have not improved enough to attract those people back into positions,” she said.

Walsh said if staffing shortages persist, it will have a greater impact on patient care.

“As I’m pulled away for more and more administrative work, I have less and less time available to give to face and face patient care. I have less time to call patients about their own lab results,” she said.

In a statement, Allina Health expressed disappointment with the physicians’ vote to unionize:

“Allina Health is first and foremost deeply appreciative of the exceptional care our providers deliver to patients every day. We are also proud of our ongoing work regarding employee well-being. Allina Health has been nationally recognized as one of the top places to work in health care, with special attention for our efforts to support employee mental health.

While we are disappointed in the decision by some of our providers to be represented by a union, we remain committed to our ongoing work to create a culture where all employees feel supported and valued. Our focus now is on moving forward to ensure the best interests of our employees, patients and the communities we serve.”

The election must now be certified by the NLRB, and then contract negotiations can begin.

Allina Health’s nurses have been long represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, which launched a three-day strike last year against Allina and other hospital systems after contract negotiations broke down. A deal was later reached and ratified by nurses in December.