Nurses, Allina Health ready to negotiate again

KSTP Chris Knoll
KSTP Chris Knoll

05 October, 2016

The union that represents thousands of nurses who are on strike in Minnesota said Tuesday it is ready to return to the bargaining table after rejecting Allina Health's latest contract offer.

The Minnesota Nurses Association was still tallying votes on Monday evening from as many as 4,800 Allina hospital nurses - with the outcome either putting them back to work under a new three-year contract, or extending one of the longest nursing strikes in Minnesota history.

In two previous votes this summer, union negotiators recommended that members reject Allina's offer.

In a statement, Allina Health says it's now up to the union to come up with a proposal.

"In order to get some sort of monetary safety net to protect nurses moving to Allina's high-deductible health plans, they were asking us to give more away", said Abbott Northwestern Hospital Registered Nurse and Negotiating Team Member Angela Becchetti, "The nurses saw through that". The company also says more than 500 nurses have crossed the picket lines and continued to work.

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

Striking nurses lost their health insurance as of October 1, and it was unclear how heavily that would influence the voting, according to the report.

Voting took place from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday.

"Allina Health will continue to seek solutions to this and other challenges that help us transform health care for the good of our patients and the communities we serve". However, it did achieve for the company its main goal in the negotiations, a phase-out by the end of 2019 of four union-backed health insurance plans that they viewed as too costly to maintain. The incentive was $300 for 2018.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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