Minnesota Nurses Voted!

  1. It is 1:15 AM and I just got off the MNA hotline that our bargaining unit has rejected the contract the hospital put forward and we will be going out on strike June 1st unless the negotiations start up again in earnest in the meantime. MNA has been bargaining in good faith with 13 hospitals here in the Twin Cities since March to come up with a contract that is acceptable to the nurses. We've rejected a contract that would have given us an 18% raise over 3 years because it did not contain wording about benefits and nurse patient ratios. The raise may sound good (new nurses would start out at about $40,000/ year, and senior nurses would earn $68,000+); but we decided that this is not just for our pockets, it is also the way to get more people into nursing. We are concerned that the contract put on the table by the hospitals did not address health insurance or other benefits; in the past, we have seen raises eaten up by higher and higher premiums and other costs of our "benefits". When the CEO can pay $86/month for health insurance, why do some nurses have to pay over $500?
    Wish us luck, people, and if I can continue to get online here, I shall keep you posted. (I've not been able to get onto this BBS for about 2 weeks-- I'm glad it's working now. I did talk to Brian about my problem, I hope his suggestions work- they seem to be so far!)
    •  
  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   -jt
    Good luck Jenny. Hopefully the vote will be a motivator for them. 13 hospitals on strike at once is not going to be a picnic for them & they will be feeling a lot of community pressure to settle.

    No RN in my state who is represented by my association pays for medical/dental benefits. Thats non-negotiable organziation-wide. The hospitals know that yet mine tried to set a new standard by refusing this time. We had a 4 hr informational picketing in front of the hospital where 400 out of 500 RNs showed up to protest & the next day the hospital withdrew their demand to have us pay for our benefits. They knew it was a strike issue & they saw the support the nurses had for themselves. Next they refused to talk about staffing ratios or mandatory OT limits/disincentives. 2 more strike issues. After 9 mths of negotiating going no where, We told the hospital in November that if it didnt start moving, we were taking a strike vote on Dec 7th because of those 2 issues. Our HR director & VP of Nursing said "those nurses wont strike - its Christmas & they need their paychecks. We call your bluff!" We told them "remember Nyack" (those RNs went on strike Christmas week, & the hospital spent $19 million keeping them out till June trying to break them - but couldnt)

    so, surprise surprise - we got over 98% of the nurses voting to strike & within 6 days of that vote, before we even handed in the 10 day notice yet, the hospital came back to negotiations & agreed to our staffing ratios, our mandatory OT language, & our financial increases - including medical benefits for part-timers. And we didnt have to strike.

    How it works for you too.
  4. by   PeggyOhio
    Jenny
    How did you find out what the CEO paid for his benefits.?

    Condratulations and best wishes to you all.
  5. by   ragtopannie
    I am an RN that works at one the contract hospitals in the Twin Cities that voted to strike (I just started there 2 weeks ago!Ha-ha-ha!) I am frustrated by the media (newspapers, TV)up here. When they report about our negotiations on our new contract, the majority of the article or 'soundbites' are on the salary issue and we repeatedly say, "It's not just the money!" But the media still isn't putting the message out there: This is also about recruitement and retention of nurses. This is about schedules,staffing, a decent pension, better insurance premiums, and respecting and rewarding our senior nurses so there is incentive to stay in nursing and not "bag out" of the profession due to frustration and burn out. I have been lucky and honored to have been 'mentored' by some phenomenal men and women in this profession. They continue to mentor, inspire and encourage me even as I've moved on to another facility in Minneapolis. Sure, there have been the'other nurses' that we called the 'coven' who are burned-old hags that are some of the most angry, toxic people I've ever met that choose to remain at work, instead quitting, suck the life out of departments. Despite any attempt at being respectful, friendly or compassionate towards them by fellow staff members(including yours truely) they exist like parasites-- feeding off of the frustration of the staff, new and old. These are people who desperatly need EAP-- but don't go and management is clueless to what goes on the dept. and thinks these RNs are Florence N. herself--jeez!! I quit a job that I loved because of 'the coven'.After banging my head against the wall and 'toughing it out' for way longer than I should have.... I couldn't win with their set of unwritten rules, the back stabbing...you know the story. Well, I still love nursing after 11 years. I look to the next few weeks with grit and determination because I feel I owe someting back to the veteran RNs that have inspired me. Also, I feel I owe someting to to all the 'covens' out there, too: As my Dad always told me, "Don't let the bastards get you down." I won't Dad.
  6. by   -jt
    "I am an RN that works at one the contract hospitals in the Twin Cities that voted to strike (I just started there 2 weeks ago!Ha-ha-ha!) I am frustrated by the media (newspapers, TV) up here. When they report about our negotiations on our new contract, the majority of the article or 'soundbites' are on the salary issue and we repeatedly say, "It's not just the money!" But the media still isn't putting the message out there: This is also about recruitement and retention of nurses. This is about schedules,staffing, a decent pension, better insurance premiums, and respecting and rewarding our senior nurses so there is incentive to stay in nursing and not "bag out" of the profession due to frustration and burn out. I have been lucky and honored to have been 'mentored' by some phenomenal men and women in this profession. They continue to mentor, inspire and encourage me even as I've moved on to another facility in Minneapolis."


    They dont understand the nurses job. They will get it right after youve educated them. Take what you wrote up there & send it your newspapers editors, local TV access channell & news stations. Its going to big a thing if 9,000 nurses have to go on strike & its up to the nurses to make sure the true story is told.
    Good Luck.
  7. by   kttaraverty
    I also voted no to the contract offerd to my hospital in St. Paul. I would like to know if anyone has had a strike involving this large of a percentage of nurses in a single city at one time? If so does anyone know how many scab nurses are available to come and save the hospitals? I believe we have a huge voice because of our numbers
  8. by   Jenny P
    On the front page of the Pioneer Press (that "other" newspaper from "across the river" in St. Paul), the article is titled "Nurses reject contract; strike possible June 1".
    Nurses at 12 out of 13 hospitals; 7900 out of a possible 9000 nurses voted to strike yesterday according to MNA. The one hospital that did not vote for a strike had their negotiators come in at the last minute before the vote and sweetened the negotiations by providing a longetivity bonus, addressing the scheduling issues, and agreeing to whatever the rest of the hospitals will pay.
    Our contract had banned mandatory overtime way back in 1987; but our issues about patient safety (staffing ratios and having beds reserved in critical care areas for emergencies, etc.) are important to us to vote for a strike.
    PeggyOhio, the newspapers printed the CEO's medical insurance rates.
    Jt, thanks for your words of encouragement. We've been on strike before; so us "oldtimers" know what lies ahead. The differences this time arround are that there isn't a nursing glut so there are non contract nursing jobs out there; plus Minnesota now has a 60 day waiting period for out of state nurses to get their licenses. That should slow down some of the scabs; I hear that US Nursing is trying very hard to recruit nurses from northern Mn. I hope no one is jumping at their offer because what helps the Metro area nurses helps raise the whole regions nursing salaries.
    Ragtopannie, I'm sorry you found such witches working in the nursing field. I'm embarrassed that such people can still be in this profession, and in Minnesota, to boot! (We always pride ourselves on "Minnesota nice"). I prefer the Pioneer Press to the "Strib" because the news is not slanted and sensationalized as much. The various AM TV news shows I saw this morning were pretty much factual; but I'm sure that it may be different by tonight, depending on who has had the medias' ear longer- the nurses or the hospitals. I think that with North Memorial ratifying the contract; it may tip the media and the public in our favor more than if all 13 hospitals voted to strike.
  9. by   Jenny P
    Oh, yeah, one thing I forgot to mention: one of the hospitals' negotiating teams was so disrespectful of the nurses negotiating team for their hospital that they would come to the negotiating table wearing tee-shirts and jeans and also show up late-- up to 1 to 3 HOURS LATE!!! I had heard other rumors, but this wasn't a rumor, it was a fact!
    I did hear yeaterday (at the time of the vote) that my hospital does not have strike insurance. Maybe this will be settled before we need to walk.
  10. by   Stargazer
    Jenny, I am so proud of all of you for not grabbing the money and running, but holding out for longer-term issues like health benefits and staffing ratios. It sounds like you have a pretty strong, cohesive group and therefore have an excellent chance of getting your demands met. Stay strong and please keep us posted on what happens. Best of luck to you.
  11. by   jamistlc
    Originally posted by Jenny P:
    <STRONG>It is 1:15 AM and I just got off the MNA hotline that our bargaining unit has rejected the contract the hospital put forward and we will be going out on strike June 1st unless the negotiations start up again in earnest in the meantime. MNA has been bargaining in good faith with 13 hospitals here in the Twin Cities since March to come up with a contract that is acceptable to the nurses. We've rejected a contract that would have given us an 18% raise over 3 years because it did not contain wording about benefits and nurse patient ratios. The raise may sound good (new nurses would start out at about $40,000/ year, and senior nurses would earn $68,000+); but we decided that this is not just for our pockets, it is also the way to get more people into nursing. We are concerned that the contract put on the table by the hospitals did not address health insurance or other benefits; in the past, we have seen raises eaten up by higher and higher premiums and other costs of our "benefits". When the CEO can pay $86/month for health insurance, why do some nurses have to pay over $500?
    Wish us luck, people, and if I can continue to get online here, I shall keep you posted. (I've not been able to get onto this BBS for about 2 weeks-- I'm glad it's working now. I did talk to Brian about my problem, I hope his suggestions work- they seem to be so far!)</STRONG>
    Greetings All Nurses,

    I wonder about the difference in premiums, that is shocking!
    Good Luck!

    Peace,
    Have a Blessed Day,
    Jami

    [ May 19, 2001: Message edited by: jamistlc ]
  12. by   nurse57
    Way to go MN nurses! I grew up up there and remember working in my first hospital where the union was active. We too threatened to strike. Now I live in Texas. Does anybody know, do we have a union?
  13. by   Dplear
    Thank god, no we do not have a union in Texas....it is a Right to work state. They cannot force you to join a union here.
  14. by   -jt
    This same thing happened with the Hawaii Nurses Association nurses in Oahu about a year or 2 ago. The 5 hospitals (Kaiser) on that island all had contracts with their nurses expiring around the same time. The nurses voted to strike all of them & shut down healthcare on the island. Do I need tell you that Kaiser settled all of them & not one had to actually go on strike?? The hospital saw the light after the nurses voted to walk in unity. So 12 out of 13 is nothing for them to sneeze at. Thats a pretty great statement you all made even with the one that voted to accept the contract - but then they didnt vote on the same contract you guys did.

    Their hospital broke ranks from the league of hospitals involved & negotiated its OWN contract. Those nurses GOT a contract that DOES address the staffing problem & maybe if the rest of the 12 RN groups had gotten that agreement, you wouldnt have to strike either. THATS the difference in why you all rejected what you were offered & they accepted what they were offered - they GOT what you all wanted. The other 12 RN groups didnt. You were offered 2 DIFFERENT contracts. Keep that point in the forefront.

    Btw, how sneaky was that for the hospital to come in & say "if our nurses dont strike, we'll give them whatever the striking nurses fight for & win."?? It kind of leaves a bad taste seeing that those nurses didnt stand together with the other 12 RN groups & are willing to let you fight alone & themselves reap the gains off your sweat & tears.

    No matter - 12 hospitals on strike all in one area?? They cant let it happen. That one acceptance of a different contract isnt going to diminsh your power. The rest of the hospitals will have to settle too. They may even just offer you the same thing that other one did & call it a day.

    Id focus on why could one hospital see its way clear to address the staffing issue but the other 12 refused to recognize its importance? If one can do it, they all can. Throw it right back at them. That hospital making the offer it did & the RNs accepting it may be a blessing in disguise. Turn it around to your benefit & make the other 12 answer to the community about why they ALL cant do what that one did.

    Forget that those nurses left you holding the bag & instead publicly applaud that one hospital for recognizing the importance of addressing the staffing issue. Talk up how enlightened that adminsitration is & what guts it took them to break ranks, not follow the pack or bow to pressure to lower their standards! Publicly acknowledge its committment to its nurses & its pts & the safety of both! Hold it up as a shining star in the group of 13 & make it a hero! Before you know it the community & newspaers will be asking the same question - "yeah! how come THEY can address the staffing problems & try to fix them & the rest of you hospitals wont? Are your pts any less deserving of safe care than theirs are??"

    If the administration can come in unprepared, late & in play clothes with their strategies designed to wear you down by showing you how unimportant the negotiations are to them, you can use some war strategies of your own too. Number one - the community.

    Another thing, there is no way in hell 7,000 scabs are going to be available to bail them out. Dont even worry about it. "For sure".

    ps
    There ARE unionized nurses in Texas. Just one example Ive heard of...the VA Hospital in San Antonio apparently has been unionized for years.

close