Dear MNA Allina nurses,
This is long, but important. As your Executive Director I was present for the 22 hour marathon bargaining session that just ended mere hours ago. I understand Allina has, as usual, communicated with all of you before we were able to do so (a clear divide and conquer tactic that they have become oh so good at) so I wanted to get this out to you. Please note, that communication from Allina lists the elements of their proposal but not the details because they want you to demand to vote on their proposal without knowing what that proposal will really mean for you – don’t fall for it, it’s Allina trying to cause division within the union.
I want to be blunt, we have felt from the beginning that this is all about union busting and if there was any doubt about that at all, it is now gone. Your amazing negotiations team went into negotiations yesterday focused on achieving what the nurses needed in order to avert a strike. It’s important for you to know that it was MNA, not Allina, who made the final proposal – we sent it to them via the mediators at 5:15 a.m. with the caveat that we would recommend a yes vote to the members if they accepted the proposal as presented. We will have that proposal, along with the actual Allina proposal and a detailed communication from your team, available soon. As is often the case, the devil is most definitely in the details. When you view those proposals please pay close attention to what Allina believes is “no diminishment” language once you transition into the core plans. They want to be able to decrease the actuarial value of the plans by 5% per year without negotiations with MNA – that would mean more cost shifting from Allina to the nurses. We countered that proposal to secure much better protection against cost shifting but this is clearly all about control for Allina since their message to us about that proposal was “we’re still too far apart”. We made a compromise proposal on charge nurse’s having a patient assignment but even that wasn’t enough for Allina – again, it’s about them having control and the nurses having no say so whatsoever in their terms and conditions of employment or for the safety and care of their patients. And MNA proposed a mere $1,000 ratification bonus because we felt $500 was almost an insult considering what you’re being asked to give up in relation to the health plans. It’s despicable.
For those who are interested, I want to share the intense struggle your team has been experiencing since filing the 10-day strike notice and how it is that we came to the difficult decision related to the insurance plans. It has become evident that Allina is not going to work cooperatively with MNA to save the MNA plans. Remember, Allina controls the elements necessary to keep the plan sustainable such as premium pricing and “pooling” of claims. For the past seven months your team has brought forth multiple proposals to work with Allina to ensure future sustainability of the MNA plans but on each and every turn, Allina said no – that’s because they want all their employees in the core plans so they are purposefully “crashing” the MNA plans simply because they can. As such, the negotiations team made the very difficult decision to propose a transition into the core plans on our terms, not Allina’s and to save the plans for as long as possible. The team knows that our nurses greatly value their health insurance plans and in order for them to even consider moving to the core plans, Allina would need to step up to the plate and recognize that by accepting something on staffing and security as well as monetary recognition for the nurse’s willingness to move to the higher out of pocket core plans, would be necessary to get a deal done. As you can imagine, this was a terribly difficult realization for the team to deal with but they knew, with an open ended strike just 72 hours away, they had to try to protect certain tenets of a transition that are foundational to the union such as no two tiered system whereas new nurses aren’t provided the opportunity to participate in the better benefits which is a classic union busting tactic – pitting members against each other – and to make sure Allina can’t change the plans at their whim without negotiation with MNA. If we could’ve achieved those simple “asks” along with some staffing and workplace safety protections and monetary compensation for making such a huge concession, we could get a deal and avert the strike. Unfortunately, Allina just wants all the control, they want to take more and more money out of your pocket, not put any money into it.
I apologize that it has taken a few hours for me to provide you just a taste of what we went through over the past 36 hours but quite frankly I am aghast. I am so proud of the courageous nurses who serve you on your negotiations team – they fought, they yelled, they calculated, they cried. Our hearts are heavy sisters and brothers, we tried, we really did. We appreciate your patience as we get you the specific details and documents I know you are anxious to see.
As many of you are now saying “we are the storm” – we are the nurses – see you on the picket lines Monday.
Minnesota Nurse Association