Twin Ports nurses plan to strike starting Dec. 11

Nurses at Essentia Picket for contract change
Nurses at Essentia Picket for contract change(Alex Laitala KBJR 6)
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 4:07 AM CST
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10 A.M. UPDATE -- - After “overwhelmingly” authorizing a second strike, Twin Ports nurses have announced plans to walk off the job starting December 11.

Minnesota Nurses Association members held a press conference Thursday morning, hours after 15,000 nurses statewide, including 2,000 in the Duluth-Superior area, cast their votes Wednesday.

“We never thought that we would be here again... announcing the results of yet another vote to authorize a strike. And yet we are here,” said Corrine Schraufnagel, a nurse for Essentia Health.

If no agreement is reached, nurses statewide will start their strike at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022.

But the length of the strike will depend on where the nurses work.

Nurses in the Twin Cities and Essentia’s Duluth campus plan to strike through 7 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022.

Nurses at St. Luke’s in Duluth and Lake View in Two Harbors intend to strike with no end date in sight.

“We wouldn’t be moving this way if our members weren’t giving us the information that that was what we needed to do,” said St. Luke’s nurse Lisa Hulstrom.

Nurses have been negotiating with local hospitals for eight months, asking for improved staffing conditions and pay.

They say staffing remains their number one priority in contract negotiations.

“Money only goes so far, we are stretched incredibly thin at the hospital. It is dangerous and scary some shifts, the care that some of the patients are receiving,” said Andrea Rubesch, a nurse for St. Luke’s.

At Thursday Morning’s announcement, nurses expressed frustration with the current system.

“Trust wears thin when decisions about nurse staffing and retention are solely entrusted to executives who meet in boardrooms and offices away from the patients that nurses face minute by minute and day to day,” said Hulstrom.

There was a similar sentiment down in the Twin Cities as nurses there made their announcement Thursday morning.

“Our hospitals are in crisis, and our CEOs have failed nurses and patients. They have failed to solve the crisis of patient care, and they have failed to solve the crisis of working conditions pushing nurses away from the bedside,” said Mary C. Turner, RN at North Memorial Hospital and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “Nurses are fighting to win contracts that will help nurses stay on the job to provide patients with the exceptional care they deserve. Hospital CEOs with million-dollar salaries can afford to put Patients Before Profits in our hospitals and to do right by Minnesota nurses.”

Both hospitals held negotiating sessions on Thursday, but there was no word on whether any progress was made at those meetings.

Essentia Health reps declined a request for an interview, instead issuing the following statement:

“At Essentia, we are fortunate to have excellent nurses and we’re grateful for their expertise and dedication to patient care.

We firmly believe that another strike isn’t in anyone’s best interest. Through negotiations, our goal has always been to protect the emotional and financial well-being of our nurses. As we saw in September, it takes an emotional toll on all involved, including the communities for whom we have a shared responsibility to care for. And it doesn’t move us any closer to a resolution.

We’d rather renew the focus on the work being done at the bargaining table, because that is where solutions occur. We believe an agreement that benefits our nurses and ensures the sustainability of high-quality care in the communities we are privileged to serve is within reach.

We’re proud of the exceptional care we provide our patients. That care is a team effort involving nurses, respiratory therapists, clinicians, technicians and so many others. At the same time, we are always looking for ways to better support our colleagues.

We recognize there is a significant shortage of nurses affecting health systems across the country. Despite those challenges, Essentia has hired almost 500 new nurses over the past year and a half and we continue working hard to recruit even more. That’s why our current proposal would have a new hospital nurse in the Twin Ports making $77,000 annually to start and more than $100,000 by year 3.

Like any health system, we prepare for a range of scenarios to ensure we can maintain our high standards of patient care. Just as we saw in September, our ongoing planning helps us continue serving the Twin Ports with the kind of expert, compassionate care folks expect and deserve from Essentia. It’s important to note, however, that our focus remains on avoiding a work stoppage and reaching an agreement that benefits our nurses, our organization and — most importantly — our patients.”

St. Luke’s also declined a request for an interview.

Though they have not yet issued a statement, a representative of the hospital said to expect one sometime Thursday night.

No word on how hospital leaders plan to staff their facilities during the upcoming strike.

DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - According to the Minnesota Nurses Association, 15,000 nurses across Minnesota came out to the polls on Wednesday to cast their vote, with 2,000 from Twin Ports and Two Harbors hospitals.

RELATED: Thousands of Minnesota nurses vote on whether to strike Wednesday

This vote comes after months of failed negations with hospital leadership.

“Our hospitals are in crisis, and our CEOs have failed nurses and patients. They have failed to solve the crisis of patient care, and they have failed to solve the crisis of working conditions pushing nurses away from the bedside,” said Mary C. Turner, RN at North Memorial Hospital and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, in a press release.

In September, MNA nurses held the same vote and ultimately left the bedside for a three-day strike following a 10-day notice to hospitals, required by state law.

It is unclear exactly how many nurses voted in favor of the strike or if and when they plan to submit their 10-day notice to hospitals.

The MNA nurses in Northern Minnesota are expected to hold a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. responding to the vote.

Northern News Now will have a crew in attendance and will bring you the latest details.