By Shannon Paysse and Kyle Zelinske
MNA Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center Co-Chairs
When our SEIU colleagues at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd asked MNA nurses to support them over a costly change to their health insurance last year, we wasted no time assisting them.
Essentia Health’s decision to change health insurance in Brainerd put SEIU workers in a precarious position. Their contract contained a cap on how much the employer paid in premiums, something nurses had previously negotiated out of their contract. SEIU workers faced much higher family premium costs as a result of the change in health insurance.
SEIU workers started a petition asking Essentia to open their contract early to remove the cap on employer contributions, so members on family plans would not face such high costs. When SEIU asked MNA nurses to sign that petition, we were more than happy to help. We took the petition to nurses, and got as many as 200 signatures out of 260 members–on a weekend! The petition worked: Essentia agreed to open the SEIU contract early and provide relief to those members.
We couldn’t be happier or prouder of our coworkers for getting the deal they got. Nobody should have to pay that amount of health insurance, especially when you work for a healthcare company. Our solidarity with SEIU pulled everyone together over the outrageous costs being passed on to our coworkers shows that as a group, we do have a voice.