By Barb Brady
MNA Communications Specialist
MNA nurses in more than half of our bargaining units are presenting a united front as they negotiate contracts this year.
Nurses are fighting management attempts to cut hard-earned wages and benefits in communities throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Iowa. We are seeing hospital management in many hospitals seeking to cut or dismantle health insurance plans for our nurses.
Several bargaining units have agreed on new contracts, including Cook Hospital in Cook, Sanford Bagley Medical Center in Bagley, Chippewa County Montevideo Hospital and Medical Clinic in Montevideo, and Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs, IA.
In the Twin Cities, wage-only negotiations resulted in contracts for nurses in five of the six metro hospital systems in January.
Those hospital systems – Fairview, North, Methodist, HealthEast and Children’s – negotiated contracts with 2 percent annual wage increases and ratified them in January.
One hospital system – Allina Health – refused to participate in the wage-only negotiations. Saying it wanted to “change” health insurance, Allina proposed limited-scope bargaining (where each party brings a fixed number of proposals in addition to wages), during which management proposed dismantling MNA health insurance plans.
Allina nurses overwhelmingly voted Allina’s entire proposal down on Feb. 25, and full contract negotiations begin April 14. Nurses will continue to fight management attempts to undo the MNA health insurance plans.
In Duluth, St. Luke’s Hospital nurses have had one negotiating session with management where they exchanged proposals. St. Luke’s management is proposing significant contract take-aways, including reductions in health insurance.
Duluth Essentia nurses begin negotiations later in April.
As always, MNA nurses stand ready to support each other during 2016 negotiations. Already, nurses have traveled to attend rallies and events for colleagues miles away, like Bemidji nurses who drove to Bagley to talk with Sanford Bagley Medical Center nurses and management to show unity and offer support. Dozens of nurses have traveled to the Twin Cities to attend rallies and show support for metro nurses in contract negotiations.