After many weeks on strike and failed negotiation attempts, the Allina nurses have come to an agreement and will be signing a new work contract.
In brief, the Allina nurses is a group of about 4,000 nurses who went on strike five weeks ago, on Labor Day, over the poor and lacking conditions of their work contracts.
The five health facilities affected by the strike were Minneapolis-based Philips Eye Institute and Abbot Northwestern, Coon Rapids’ Mercy, Fridley’ Unity and St. Paul’s United. The affected units patients have been looked after by a number of almost 1,500 replacement nurses.
This is not the nurses’ first strike, as June marked a week long attempt, but this was the first open-ended one, with negotiations for a new collective work contract resuming late September.
One of the main points of the negotiations was related to the nurses’ health plans. As the current contracts offered a nurse-only health insurance coverage, Allina negotiators wanted to move nurses and include them in the corporate health plans used by the other employees.
After the union consented to phase out the current insurance plan, debates began as to how this could be accomplished, leading to a tentative agreement being reached this Tuesday.
The agreed upon plan would imply that by 2018, all union nurses would have moved to the corporate health plans available to the other Allina employees and the nurse-only plans would have already been phased out.
Although not everyone was entirely satisfied with the outcome, participating strikers agree that the corporate plans could come with benefits. The current agreement sets a limit to the number of changes Allina can bring to nurse only plans till their 2018 disappearance, and to corporate plans until 2021.
Also, it features that employers will bring additional contributions to the nurses that will be joining the corporate health plans in the 2017 – 2021 period.
Another issue brought to attention by the Minnesota Nurses Association when negotiating was related to hospital staffing and workplace safety. As even the worldwide number of health staff is too low, negotiators hoped for a better nurse-to-patient rate in the Allina facilities.
As patients are coming in with bigger problems and greater need for treatment and care, participants hope that their strike has at least raised some public attention towards the problem. They would like to see a higher degree of awareness and even some possible law changes that would help solve the matter.
After many weeks on strike, Rose Roach, the nurses’ union executive director also declared that the Allina nurses, although not having received all they deserve, can return to work feeling proud of themselves.
In a statement following the much sought after agreement, Allina Health Representatives declared their appreciation towards the nurses agreeing to the new work plan and also announced that the staff will be returning to work starting Sunday, for the 7 a.m. shift change, by which time they will have all regained their active status.
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