St. Luke's Nurses Alert Hospital of One-Day Strike

Updated: September 16, 2019 10:39 PM

St. Luke's nurses have given the hospital notice that they intend to strike for one day on Thursday, Oct. 3. 

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The Minnesota Nurses Association and St. Luke's administration will meet again at the negotiating table this Friday, Sept. 20. 

The union is also alleging the hospital has removed union literature from the workplace, prevented nurses from attending union meetings, and intimidating nurses who want to discuss their contract. The MNA says it has filed Unfair Labor Practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board. 

Last Thursday, the St. Luke's nurses voted to authorize a strike. They must give the hospital 10 days' notice, but MNA says they are giving more time in the hopes of reaching an agreement. However, they said if a deal is not reached by 7 a.m. on Oct. 3, nurses will go on strike and picket the hospital.

"Nobody wants to go on strike, but we already have a staffing crisis at St. Luke's," Union representative Pete Boyechko said. "Nurses will do what we have to do to ensure St. Luke's holds on to its nurses who deliver top-notch patient care every single day and night."

St. Luke's has said they prioritize safe and appropriate staffing levels and entered negotiations looking for a fair and safe contract. 

"Our most recent proposal to MNA leadership achieves this - wage increases that match local and metro-area hospitals, as well as extra shift bonuses, higher pay for nurse mentors and student loan reimbursement," President and CEO Kevin Nokels said. 

The hospital says the strike notification set in motion contingency plans to bring in replacement nurses. 

"The higher, non-recoverable costs of these contingency plans will likely force St. Luke's to fundamentally reconsider, and possibly reduce, the breadth of services we provide," Nokels wrote. "The decision to strike - even for one day - will be definitive." 

Both sides say they remain hopeful a contract can be agreed upon prior to the Oct. 3 strike date. 

Essentia's nurses came to an agreement and accepted their contract Sept. 10.

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