St. Luke’s nurses file notice to strike

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DULUTH, MN — Less than a week after authorizing a strike if an agreement isn’t reached with St. Luke’s Hospital, the Minnesota Nurses Association says nurses announced Monday it has filed a notice with St. Luke’s Hospital saying they will go on strike if an agreement isn’t met.

The MNA says nurses will hold a one-day strike on October 3 if the agreement isn’t reached by 7 a.m. on that date.

According to the MNA, nurses decided to hold a strike beyond the required 10-day notice to give negotiations more time and dates needed to reach an agreement.

The MNA and St. Luke’s will again meet at the bargaining table on September 20.

Last Thursday, nurses rejected an offer by St. Luke’s after a 17 hour negotiation session.

MNA nurses at St. Luke’s have been in negotiations for several months, and have been working without a contract since July 1.

MNA has filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) with the National Labor Relations Board against St. Luke’s due to the alleged failure to bargain fairly with nurses. This filing comes after claims of unlawful surveillance of union activity and interfering with nurses’ ability to attend union meetings.

The nurses are also fighting the hospital’s proposal to take away earned sick and vacation time from newly hired nurses in place of a Paid Time Off program.

St. Luke’s issued a statement on Friday, saying they’re “disappointed with the strike authorization.”

They also went on to say 2019 has been a financially challenging year for the hospital, and that a strike could put them even further in the hole.

Meanwhile, St. Luke’s President and CEO, Kevin Nokels released a statement Monday writing,

We entered this year’s negotiation with the goal of achieving a fair and safe contract, by any local, regional or national comparison. 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.

The strike notification by the MNA has set in motion the contingency plans StLuke’s has in place to maintain continuity of care by bringing in replacement nurses to care for our patients. The high, non-recoverable costs of these contingency plans will likely force StLuke’s to fundamentally reconsider, and possibly reduce, the breadth of services we provide. The decision to strike – even for one day – will be definitive.

StLuke’s and the MNA will return to the table this Friday. We remain hopeful for and committed to constructive talks, solution-seeking and transparency. The intent-to-strike notice by the MNA does not change our commitment to this process or our desire to reach an agreement that is fair and safe for all involved.

RELATED: Essentia and St. Luke’s nurses plan informational pickets around hospitals

RELATED: Future steps laid out following nurses’ strike authorization against St. Luke’s

Krystal Frasier

Krystal Frasier

Social Media and Digital Content Manager
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