Thousands of Minnesota nurses launch 3-day walkout over pay

Thousands of nurses in Minnesota launched a three-day strike Monday.
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 9:09 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:21 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP/KEYC) — Thousands of nurses in Minnesota launched a three-day strike Monday, pressing for salary increases they say will help improve patient care by resolving understaffing stresses that have worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 15,000 nurses at seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked out, a number the union says makes it the largest strike ever by private-sector nurses. The affected hospitals said they have recruited temporary nurses and expected to maintain most services.

“We are out here, literally, to save our profession. Fifty-one percent of us could potentially leave the bedside as of next year — 51% — that’s a health crisis,” Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner said.

More than 15,000 nurses from the Twin Cities and Duluth areas began the three-day strike early Monday morning.

They joined the picket line after failed contract negotiations over staffing, safe working conditions, and wages.

“Today is historic. 15,000 nurses out in the largest nurses strike in American history,” said Melissa Cole, a registered nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. “However, we are not out here to make history. We are here to pave the way for the future of nursing and health care.”

This strike is believed to be the largest private sector nurses strike in U.S. history, and it will impact up to 16 hospitals statewide.

“It’s nothing that we ever want to do, striking is hard. It’s taking a huge step, but it’s what we have to do to fight for patients inside the building and also to fight for ourselves. I think this is one of the first times that we’re standing strong and saying that we deserve better too,” said Brittany Liviccari, R.N.

In Mankato, nurses from the Mayo Clinic Health System voted in July to no longer be represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association Union.

Since then, the National Labor Relations Board has certified the vote by nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato to leave the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Nurses voted 213-181 in July to remove the MNA as its representative. That vote means each nurse can negotiate their terms, instead of collective bargaining.

“Now those nurses are talking directly with hospital staff, hospital administrators about how their work conditions are going to develop from here forward,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

The hospitals and the striking nurses said staff shortages are a shared concern.