Nurses at Essentia Health-Duluth Clinic 2nd Street file for union representation

Essentia 2nd St nurses may unionize

Nurses at Essentia's Second Street Clinic in Duluth announced on Thursday that they plan on voting to join the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Nurses at Essentia’s Second Street Clinic in Duluth announced Thursday that they intend on voting and joining the Minnesota Nurses Association. 

“We are joining this nurses union to be able to collaboratively negotiate employment terms, work conditions and patient care standards. As a union, we will have the right to a seat at the table in negotiating employment contracts, fair wages and benefits with our employer,” said RN Katie Mathewson. “As nurses, we are dedicated to advocating for a patient’s best interests with the protection and strength of our union.”

Minnesota Nurses Association President Chris Rubesch welcomed his colleagues to the union with open arms. 

“These nurses are seeking to do the same thing that healthcare professionals across the Essentia health system, across northern Minnesota and across the region are asking for: dignity in their work, safe working conditions and the ability to provide safe, patient care,” said Rubesch. “I don’t think that that’s too much to ask. I am so incredibly proud of the steps these workers are taking. They are taking a bold initiative to have this vote to collectively organize, negotiate. This is a moment that healthcare workers, decades from now, will look back on and say these individuals took a stand. They raised their voice and they demanded dignity and respect in the workplace.”

Holly Swedberg has been a nurse in the clinic setting for 37 years. Representing a group of registered nurses from the Second Street Clinic, Swedberg said that the lack of part-time positions causes other issues. 

“Over the course of my career, I have seen part time positions, flexibility and work life balance disappear. Working with less and doing more has become the new standard,” said Swedberg. “When someone is sick on a maternity leave or a vacation, there is little to no coverage for the increased workload which leads to burnout. It leads to stress. It is difficult for nurses to perform their best when they do not feel valued or equipped with the tools they need to do their jobs.”

Essentia was unavailable for interview but emailed the following statement:

“We are aware that about 10 Essentia Health nurses at the Duluth Clinic Second Street Building are considering whether to elect the Minnesota Nurses Association as their collective bargaining representative. We respect our colleagues’ rights to consider unionization; however, we don’t feel this is in their best interests or the best interests of our patients. Instead, we are encouraging these nurses to continue to work directly with us to collaborate on an excellent work environment that fosters the highest quality patient care.

At Essentia, we have a deep appreciation for the role our nurses play in caring for the patients and communities we’re privileged to serve. We will act in good faith and follow the law throughout this process, while sharing information that helps our nurses make an informed, personal choice about unionization.”

Essentia Health-Duluth