A week from yesterday, 4,000 Allina Health nurses from five Twin Cities hospitals returned to work, ending what was almost a six-week-long strike. The strike began late in the summer during a period where nurse strikes were a hot topic and occurring all over the country. In an effort to fight for workplace safety measures, insurance benefits, and safe staffing ratios, thousands of Minnesota nurses prepared to leave their jobs indefinitely until Allina offered a new contract that they could agree to.
After a 17 hour negotiating session, a majority of the 4,800 nurses on strike under the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) voted to approve their latest contract offer. Allina Health and the MNA had been working on a new agreement since February which was followed by four failed contract proposals before the latest one was approved last week.
The approved contract was a win for the Minnesota nurses, earning them 24/7 security in emergency rooms, a 2 percent pay raise, and although the nurses will still be phased out of their health plans by 2018, Allina agreed to contribute to their health reimbursement and savings accounts.
Out of the 4,800 nurses who started the strike, 630 crossed the picket line to return to work before a new contract was reached and 200 left Allina Health completely, leaving 4,000 Minnesota nurses to return after agreeing to the new contract. An exact number for how much the six-week strike cost has not been released by Allina, but the weeklong strike that occurred in June cost $20 million to cover replacement workers.
Rose Roach, Executive Director of MNA, has said that, “The nurses left their jobs and their health benefits so they could win workplace safety guarantees…They won that for both themselves and their patients.” Many of the nurses are looking forward to returning to their patients but Allina will still have to work to repair relationships with their staff.
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