Monday, May 24, 2010

Minnesota Preparing for Largest Nursing Strike in US History

Last Wednesday, the members of the Minnesota Nurses Association voted to approve a one-day strike that will affect hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The nurses are protesting proposed labor contracts that would set wage increases over the next three years at zero to two percent and proposed pension plans. The nurses are also protesting proposed staffing plans that would allow hospitals to send nurses home on slow days, or float nurses to other departments with higher need. The MNA argues that this staffing plan will overburden staff, leading to potential patient safety risks. The hospitals argue that these changes would allow them to maintain quality care without having to hire a larger volume of nurses, which would raise the cost of care to the patient.

12,000 nurses who are members of the MNA are currently contracted with hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The MNA provided the hospitals with notice of the planned strike. Hospital representatives are disappointed with the decision to strike, stating that there is still time to negotiate.

Several articles have raised questions on how the strike may affect patient safety. Some are worried that bringing in temporary nurses will cost hospitals millions of dollars. Others are worried that the strike will disrupt patient care, creating a higher safety risk to the patient.

Members of the MNA hope that an agreement with hospitals is reached prior to the June 1 contract expiration; however, they stated that they are ready to strike if a deal is not reached.

Sources: Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, Pioneer Press

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