Allina doctors file to form what would be largest private-sector clinician union in the U.S.
Doctors at one of Minnesota’s major health care providers have filed to unionize, a move that could create the largest group of private-sector clinicians in the entire country.
Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD, which would represent doctors in Allina Health’s system, formally filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday. That means members will still have to actually hold an election to determine whether or not to unionize.
“With increased workload and less support, it’s become increasingly difficult to provide the kind of care that we really feel that our patients need,” Rita Raverty, a family physician with Allina Health who’s been in the industry for more than 20 years, said.
Dr. Raverty added, “our goal as our union is to be able to more strongly advocate for the patients in our system who are served by our clinics and our urgent cares.”
She tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this push comes after not receiving the support they feel they deserve.
“The prompt for unionizing came when we brought these concerns to our employer and didn’t get a response other than ‘you should stay in your lane,’ and just really feeling like we don’t have a voice to be advocates for ourselves and for our patients,” Dr. Raverty said.
Emeritus professor of history at Macalester College, Peter Rachleff, who specializes in labor issues, says workers realizing their worth during the pandemic has led to the formation of more unions.
“It isn’t about the money, it’s about having more of a voice about the work and more control over the work schedule,” Rachleff said.
He feels the push to unionize in the healthcare industry is becoming more common – with a reason being care providers are seeing workers in other industries with less training and education get more control.
“[Right] now, there’s so much more corporate control over the hospitals, over clinics, over the healthcare industry as a whole,” Rachleff added.
The effort’s organizing committee, which features more than 60 clinicians and at least one from almost every clinic in Allina’s system, says it has the following mission statement:
“We believe the patient-clinician relationship must be the center of healthcare. Our mission as a union of primary and urgent care clinicians is to advocate for excellent care as unique as our patients. We stand together to ensure we have the resources necessary for a safe, collaborative, and sustainable work environment. As members of Doctors Council, we will work with the Allina administration to improve the lives of our patients, care teams, and communities.”
-Organizing committee for the Allina doctors unionization effort
Among the reasons they’re seeking to unionize, the clinicians cited patient safety concerns due to understaffing and lack of resources, their limited input and decision-making power, and a pressure to prioritize profits over patient needs.
Allina has 12 hospitals and more than 60 primary care clinics, along with same-day and urgent care centers, across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
Allina sent the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:
“At Allina Health, we deeply value the critical role our providers play in providing exceptional care to the communities we serve. We are actively engaged in listening to them and responding with changes to better support their ability to care for patients and their well-being. Allina Health remains focused on delivering on our caring mission and ongoing efforts to foster a culture of collaboration and communication with all our employees.”