Contact: Sam Fettig
Nurses have been working without a contract since Essentia purchased the facility in 2020 and executives refused to recognize nurses’ existing contract
Nurses will picket to oppose Essentia’s anti-union, corporate healthcare agenda and to demand a fair resolution to contract negotiations
(Moose Lake) – June 22, 2022 – Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association at Essentia Health’s Moose Lake Hospital today announced their intent to picket on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, outside of the hospital. The picket comes as nurses continue to seek a fair first contract with Essentia Health, which purchased the hospital two years ago and immediately refused to recognize nurses’ existing contract. As a result of refusal by Essentia Health executives to recognize the nurses’ prior contract, Moose Lake nurses have lost bonuses, earned sick leave hours, and company retirement contributions, despite promises that the acquisition would benefit the community.
“For decades, nurses at Moose Lake were able to win fair contracts which allowed us to stay on the job, providing the high-quality care our community deserves,” said Sarah Lambert, RN at Essentia—Moose Lake. “But when Essentia bought our hospital two years ago, executives threw out our contract and brought us back to square one, pushing nurses away from the jobs we love. It is time for Essentia to approve a fair contract which will keep local, experienced nurses at the bedside here in Moose Lake.”
Contract negotiations have now reached two years, as Essentia executives force nurses to re-negotiate for standard contract language they had previously worked under for decades. Currently, executives at the health system have refused nurses’ requests for language that would address shift scheduling, allowing nurses more input and predictability in their schedules as they balance a demanding career with other responsibilities. The holdup over scheduling means that executives still will not engage on the topic of wages and compensation with the Moose Lake nurses, despite two years of drawn-out talks.
The anti-union corporate healthcare policies pushed by Essentia executives are driving many Moose Lake nurses to leave the jobs and patient care they love. Right now, Moose Lake has a higher turnover rate than other Essentia facilities in the region. In negotiations with Essentia on topics like scheduling, staffing, and compensation, Moose Lake nurses are seeking to address the understaffing and retention issues at the hospital to keep nurses at the bedside and put patients and community care before corporate healthcare policies and profits.
Moves by Essentia executives to undermine workers have also hit Duluth, where the health system is building a new offsite surgical center but will not pledge to respect the right of workers to organize there. The picket next week at the Moose Lake Hospital follows a recent picket of nurses in the Twin Ports employed by Essentia and St. Luke’s health systems and by nurses at Allina Health’s Regina Hospital in Hastings the same day. Earlier in June, thousands of nurses picketed at 11 hospitals operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospitals, North Memorial and HealthPartners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
The crisis of understaffing and retention in Minnesota hospitals has been going on for years, as CEOs cut nurses and cut expenses even while costs increase for Minnesota patients. As nurses throughout the state bargain with hospital executives and take to the picket line, they have also launched a new advertising campaign that urges hospital CEOs with million-dollar salaries to put patients before profits in Minnesota hospitals.
The new advertisements, which can be viewed at this link, encourage Minnesotans to visit MNPatientsBeforeProfits.com, where they can learn more about high executive compensation at Minnesota hospitals and can share their stories about the impact of short-staffing in our hospitals.
This informational picket is not a work stoppage; nurses will not be walking off the job to participate in the picket and hospital operations will not be affected by the action.
DETAILS: MOOSE LAKE HOSPITAL NURSES INFORMATIONAL PICKET
- When: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Where: Essentia—Moose Lake Hospital, Moose Lake, MN
- Who: Moose Lake nurses bargaining for a new contract
- What: Informational picket to encourage the public to stand with nurses
- Why: To call on Essentia executives to approve a fair contract with Moose Lake nurses
Moose Lake becomes the 15th Minnesota hospital picketed by nurses this month as they seek new contracts to put patients and community care before profits and corporate healthcare