4,800 Nurses Launch Strike Over Healthcare Changes

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Ted Goodman Reporter
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Nearly 5,000 registered nurses at five Minnesota hospitals went on strike Monday to protest management plans to dock their healthcare coverage.

The nurses work at five hospitals and are represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, who called for the strike after their employer, Allina Health, announced plans to switch nurses from a union-only health care plan to the plan that currently covers all other Allina employees.

The switch would “save” $10 million a year, according to Allina. Under the new plan, nurses would pay lower premiums but have higher deductibles and potentially higher out-of-pocket costs.

The union contends that Allina wants to shift too many new costs onto nurses, without adequate compensation. Allina said that they would transition the nurses to the new plans by 2020, a timetable that the union is not ready to accept.

This is not the first time the nurses have hit the picket line. The current contract with the nurses expired June 1, and the union went on a strike earlier this summer for one week, to protest their opposition to Allina’s decision to switch out healthcare plans.

The union met with management Friday to negotiate a new three-year contract with federal mediators. After 22 hours of talks, the two sides ended negotiations without an agreement and without plans to meet again.

Rose Roach, a representative with the Minnesota Nurses Association told local CBS affiliate, WCCO that the union was willing to transition its nurses to the new plan, but management “kept moving the goal post over and over again during that entire 22 hour period.” Roach told a group of reporters that, “They [Allina Health] clearly want to break the back of the nurse’s union.”

Allina Health announced that in the interim, they will be hiring 1,500 replacement nurses.

The five hospitals involved are Abbott Northwestern and the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United Hospital in St. Paul, Unity Hospital in Fridley and Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

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