FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tentative agreements include unprecedented new language to address chronic understaffing in our hospitals
Tentative agreements include historic 18 percent pay increase over three years in Twin Cities, 17 percent in Twin Ports
Planned unfair labor practices strike set to begin Sunday has been called off as nurses plan vote on tentative agreements
“This tentative agreement is a historic win for nurses and patients at the bedside,” said Mary C. Turner, RN at North Memorial Hospital and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “For years, hospital executives have been pushing nurses out of the profession by under-staffing our units and under-valuing our nurses. This tentative agreement will help to keep nurses at the bedside, where we will keep fighting to oppose the corporate healthcare policies which threaten our hospital systems and the care our patients deserve.”
If approved by nurse members, the new contracts would include unprecedented language won by MNA nurses to address chronic understaffing in our hospitals for the first time in history. For decades, MNA nurses have fought for contract language and legislation to ensure safe staffing at the bedside, while hospital executives denied the problem and insisted on the status quo. Staffing changes won by MNA nurses in the tentative agreements will give nurses a say in how staffing levels are set and to ensure changes to staffing levels benefit nurses and patients at the bedside. Staffing changes won by nurses vary by each tentative agreement, including language to: prevent reductions in staffing levels without consensus between nurses and management; help protect nurses from discipline when they raise concerns about unsafe assignments; and to trigger reviews of staffing levels by nurses and management in response to key measures of patient and nurse wellbeing and outcomes.
“For nine long months in these negotiations, nurses have insisted that workers and patients deserve better in our hospitals,” said Chris Rubesch, RN at Essentia in Duluth and First Vice President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “This tentative agreement is a critical step to address the chronic short-staffing and other corporate healthcare policies hurting patients and nurses at the bedside. With new staffing language and fair wage increases, nurses are empowered to continue the fight to protect care in our communities.”
In addition to the staffing language won by nurses, the tentative agreements for new contracts include historic pay raises of 18 percent over three years for nurses in the Twin Cities, and 17 percent for nurses in the Twin Ports, with pay retroactive to the previous contract’s expiration. These wage increases represent the largest won by MNA nurses in over two decades. In the Twin Cities, these wage increases include 7 percent in the first year of the contract, 6 percent in the second year, and 5 percent in the third year; in the Twin Ports the tentative agreements include 7 percent in the first year of the contract, 6 percent in the second year, and 4 percent in the third year.
Nurses also won increases in pay for preceptors – those helping to train in new nurses – and for charge nurses – who help to coordinate the work of other nurses on a shift. Together with the staffing language won, these wage increases will help to retain nurses at the bedside at a time when over half of all nurses are considering leaving bedside nursing due to chronic understaffing and poor management by hospital executives. Along with improved wages and staffing language, several tentative agreements include additional gains including workplace safety protections.
Whatever the outcome of nurses’ vote on these tentative agreements, nurses remain committed to continuing the fight to oppose the corporate healthcare practices that have understaffed our hospitals for years and that threaten to put profits before patients in our hospitals. Nurses are fighting against corporate healthcare mergers and monopolies that threaten choice, access, and affordability of healthcare for Minnesotans, and will continue the fight for safe staffing levels at the Minnesota Legislature next session.