Essentia files unfair labor practice charge against MNA

As the intended strike date approaches, Essentia Health has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Minnesota Nurses Association.

The charge has been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging MNA failed to include Essentia Health-Duluth among the list of facilities in its 10-day strike notice. MNA filed their strike notice on September 1, while announcing a strike would begin September 12.

Essentia says the union also failed to follow the statutory requirement outlined in the National Labor Relations Act; requiring it to provide adequate strike notice to all relevant stakeholders, including federal and state mediation services that could potentially assist the parties in reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Essentia says this is what prompted the unfair labor practice charges.

Since bargaining began in April, Essentia says they have negotiated in good faith toward a fair agreement, and believe it’s imperative to exhaust all to reach contract agreements. Essentia encourages MNA to consider mediation.

While Essentia says they respect the MNA’s right to call a legal strike, they say nurses have not followed the regulatory process in this case; and say these laws are in place to hold both sides accountable. Essentia will continue to follow the process as defined in statute, and says they expect the MNA to do the same.

In response, Chris Rubesch, MNA First Vice President and RN at Essentia Health in Duluth shared the following statement:

“This is yet another desperate move by Minnesota hospital executives unprepared to reckon with the power of 15,000 nurses standing firm to demand better care and working conditions in our hospitals. The National Labor Relations Board requires notification only of the date and time that picketing will commence, which the Minnesota Nurses Association provided to Essentia Health. There is no requirement that a union provide notice of the locations at which it intends to picket. It is unfortunate that Essentia executives are spending more time and money on lawyers than negotiating with nurses to avoid a strike on September 12. Right now, our Essentia Health Negotiating Team is waiting to meet with hospital executives at the negotiations table. We hope management can meet with us today instead of their highly-paid lawyers. It is time to settle fair contracts to retain nurses and improve care and working conditions at the bedside.”