Moose Lake nurses announce intent to picket

This week, Twin Ports nurses at both Essentia-St. Mary’s and St. Luke’s began their informational picket as they await new contracts between the Minnesota Nurses Association and the hospitals. Moose Lake nurses have also announced their intent to picket, saying they have no contracts at all.

MNA nurses at Essentia’s Moose Lake Hospital will be picketing, starting Tuesday, June 28 outside the hospital, from 12:00pm to 5:00pm.

Essentia purchased the hospital two years ago. Nurses say Essentia did not recognize their prior contracts, and have lost bonuses, earned sick leave hours, and company retirement contributions since that purchase.

"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," explained Sarah Lambert, RN at Essentia-Moose Lake. "It is time for Essentia to approve a fair contract which will keep local, experienced nurses at the bedside here in Moose Lake."

In the push for new contracts, MNA nurses are asking 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. Nurses are also 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.

An Essentia spokesperson sent a statement saying the hospital system respects its nurses.

"We are focusing on our discussions at the bargaining table because that is where solutions are found. Essentia will continue to negotiate in good faith and we look forward to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement," it said.

The statement also said Essentia respects nurses’ right to hold an information picket.

"Our top priority in everything we do is to continue providing our patients with the kind of expert care they expect and deserve," the statement said.

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.