Local union nurse shares perspective on possible nurse strike

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Years and years of providing care to the patients that walk through the hospital doors and nothing less is what nurses have been doing, but now they are demanding change and help!

RELATED STORIES: MNA files intent to strike; 15,000 nurses could walk off job, Nurses vote to authorize strike and Amid contract negotiations, nurses pressure hospitals to resolve staffing issues

The ability to provide continuous care to their patients is what Minnesota nurses want to do, but it has been hard even before the pandemic changed our world.

“We do not make this decision lightly. We understand that patients still need care. And that is why the law requires that we give a ten-day notice to allow the hospitals to make alternative plans, hire travel nurses, and do what it takes to continue giving care to our patients. But we also know that if we do not take this stand, nothing is going to change, said First Vice President of Minnesota Nurses Association and RN at Essentia Chris Rubesch.

Staffing is the top priority that nurses want to see in an agreement, which has been an issue way before covid-19.

“I have seen issues around staffing and patient care continue to be a concern over that entire time. Covid has certainly shown a big, great spotlight on the problem. But the problem of staffing and recruiting, and retaining nurses has been an issue far longer than that. We have been sounding the alarm on this issue for decades.”

Rubesch also mentions other steps nurses and MNA (Minnesota Nurses Association) took before considering this strike, “We have tried legislatively, we are trying now to bring solutions to the contract table and address the issue that way. The hospitals are saying, no, they are not interested there. So we are really pushed to take this unprecedented action because we have no other choice. We are trying to work collaboratively to find creative solutions to the staffing crisis, and we really cannot continue with the status quo.”

If an agreement that meets both parties is not reached, the intended strike will have on September 12th and last until September 14th, and 15,000 nurses will be on strike.

Inside the healthcare system, there is a major movement, with nurses leaving, many walking away from the bedside.

“We are not only the nurses giving the care, but in our community, we live here. We are patients ourselves. Our family members. Our parents. Our neighbors. Our patients. And that is why we are doing this because we know that what is happening is not sustainable. We know that if we do not find a solution to the staffing crisis, we are not going to have enough caregivers to care for our community. And that is just not acceptable,” Rubesch stated.

Even with new help coming in, nurses say it is still not enough. The Minnesota Nurses Association say in the state right now; there are more licensed registered nurses than at any point in the last five years.

“We have a shortage of nurses willing to work in these conditions. And so we are happy to have and recruit these graduates, but we need to retain and bring back nurses to the bedside. Nurses are scared for their licenses, Rubesch shared. They are scared about what they are being asked to do, doing more with less. They are concerned about the care they are giving to their patients.”

M-N-A says they have proposals on the table, which includes liability insurance for nurses.

“These are the conditions we are going to be asked to work in; will they give us liability insurance to protect our licenses?”