15,000 nurses authorize strike as they fight for fair contracts that put Patients Before Profits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sam Fettig
(c) 612-741-0662
sam.fettig@mnnurses.org
Lauren Nielsen
(o) 651-414-2862
(c) 651-376-9709
lauren.nielsen@mnnurses.org

Nurses in Twin Cities and Twin Ports nurses are now working without contracts as hospital executives refuse solutions to short-staffing, retention and better patient care

As many hospital CEOs continue to take significant raises on multi-million-dollar salaries, executives offer nurses just 4 percent in average annual wage increases   

VIDEO [METRO, DULUTH]: Watch video from this morning of nurse leaders responding to the results of the strike vote.

(St. Paul and Duluth) – August 16, 2022 – This morning, nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports responded to the overwhelming vote of members to authorize a potential strike of 15,000 nurses, in their fight for fair contracts to hold healthcare executives accountable to put patients before profits. The strike authorization comes as nurses have negotiated for five months with hospital executives and have worked without contracts for the last several months.

“Hospital executives with million-dollar salaries have created a crisis of retention and care in our healthcare system, as more nurses are leaving the bedside, putting quality patient care at risk,” said Mary C. Turner, RN at North Memorial Hospital and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Nurses do not take this decision lightly, but we are determined to take a stand at the bargaining table, and on the sidewalk if necessary, to put patients before profits in our hospitals.”

Right now in Minnesota, nurses are overworked, hospitals are understaffed, and patients are overcharged. While hospital CEOs with multi-million-dollar salaries have refused to negotiate with nurses over solutions to the crises of short-staffing, retention and patient care, the problems are getting worse: recent studies show that more nurses are planning to leave the bedside while adverse events for patients are increasing.

“Corporate healthcare policies in our hospitals have left nurses understaffed and overworked, while patients are overcharged, local hospitals and services are closed, and executives take home million-dollar paychecks,” said Chris Rubesch, RN at Essentia in Duluth and First Vice President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Nurses have one priority in our hospitals, to take care of our patients, and we are determined to fight for fair contracts so nurses can stay at the bedside to provide the quality care our patients deserve.”

Nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize the strike, which required a supermajority of votes to pass. The vote authorizes nurse negotiation leaders to call a strike following a 10-day notice to hospital employers. Such a strike of 15,000 nurses would be one of the largest nurses strikes in U.S. history, and would be the first time Twin Cities and Twin Ports nurses took such an action together in contract negotiations.

The strike vote covers nurses working at 15 hospitals under seven hospital systems:

HospitalSystem + CEOCEO CompensationPay Ratio to Avg. RN
RiversideM Health Fairview, CEO James Hereford$3.5M40 to 1
Southdale
St. Joseph’s
St. John’s
St. Mary’s DuluthEssentia Health,
CEO David Herman
$2.69M38 to 1
St. Mary’s Superior
MethodistHealthPartners,
CEO Andrea Walsh
$2.4M28 to 1
Abbott NorthwesternAllina Health,
CEO Lisa Shannon
$1.76M21 to 1
Mercy
United
Unity
Children’s MinneapolisChildren’s Hospitals,
CEO Mark Gorelick
$1.4M17 to 1
Children’s St. Paul
North MemorialNorth Memorial,
CEO J. Kevin Croston
$1.3M16 to 1
St. Luke’sSt. Luke’s,
Co-CEOs Eric Lohn and Nicholas Van Deelen
$700K+10 to 1

Since negotiations began in March, nurses have pressed hospital executives both at the bargaining table and in public over the need to negotiate with nurses to solve the crises of short-staffing, retention and care in our hospitals. Nurses held informational pickets at 15 hospitals throughout the state in June, launched an advertising campaign exposing the effects of corporate healthcare policies in Minnesota hospitals and last week announced that nurses had voted “No Confidence” in hospital executives.

Minnesota hospital CEOs have refused to address these issues in negotiations with nurses, leading nurses to take Monday’s vote to authorize a strike of 15,000 Minnesota nurses. Nurses in the Twin Cities have been working without a contract since theirs expired on May 31, 2022; contracts for nurses in the Twin Ports expired on June 30, 2022.

While nurses seek solutions to short staffing and retention, hospital executives have insisted on focusing on wages. Despite the fact that hospital executives continue to earn significant raises on their million-dollar salaries – such as M Health Fairview CEO James Hereford, who took a 90 percent raise in 2019, bringing his salary to over $3.5 million – these same CEOs are offering nurses average annual increases of only around 4 percent, well below the current rate of inflation and climbing cost of living. Hospital CEOs with million-dollar salaries can afford to put Patients Before Profits in our hospital and to do right by Minnesota nurses.

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4 Comments

  1. We have to take a stand at some point for ourselves and the nurses coming up behind us. We are ready to speak our minds.

  2. We Los Angeles County Nurses went on strike back in 1991 for better working conditions and safer patient care..
    We were dramatically successful. But, isn’t it a shame that, over 30 years later, Nurses are still forced to strike—to essentially abandon their patients—in order to fight for their patients? And 30 years ago, you never heard of Hospital CEOs in the private sector taking home million-dollar salaries, either. Disgraceful!!

  3. My experience as a patient and having friends as nurses, I have witnessed first hand what these nurses have to go through, ie, no breaks, under constant pressure and stress with long hours etc. Even my Dr.’s have commented that they themselves are pushed and rushed through appointments when seeing patients! This corporate corruption must stop! The caring for patients weather in clinic or hospital is not about the
    “ patients “ anymore, the bottom line is MONEY! Nurses deserve every penny they are asking for and more!!

  4. When Oklahomans did not support there nurses over staff level and protecting patients in late 1900 it led directly to the death of my father Johnnie Forrest Sr. One nurse per floor was allowed to make decisions and administer medication everyone else was considered candystriper with no power. My dad was over medicated by an experienced non English speaking nurse. My friend and family who were nurses said

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