Pay Freeze Leaves HCMC Nurses Frustrated (Minnesota)

  1. More than one thousand registered nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center are not getting pay raises in the foreseeable future and many of them are upset.

    The county board froze wages for all county workers because of budget concerns. Board members say they can't make an exception for the nurses.

    The non-unionized H.C.M.C. nurses had expected to see a pay bump because they usually get a raise when unionized nurses at other hospitals do.

    In mid-may, union nurses from some 13 Twin Cities area hospitals ratified their latest contract-winning a five per cent pay raise this year and four percent the next two years.

    I think there's kind of a sense of surprise that it wouldn't be given this year, that the board took the action," Minnesota Nurses Association's Jan Rabbers said.

    County commissioner Mark Stenglein was one of five county board members who voted to postpone nurses pay raises indefinitely.

    "Nurses are very valuable, so are social workers, so are deputies so are the plow truck drivers," Stenglein said. "The reality is ... we asked our other bargaining units to take a pair of zero's for increases for the next two years."

    At the Minnesota Nurses Association-which is trying to organize H.C.M.C. nurses to unionize-folks believe that if the pay freeze sticks, many nurses will go elsewhere.

    One thirty-year veteran of the hospital says may spell trouble for the highly regarded health facility.

    "I do see this as almost a death knell for the Hennepin County medical center. I don't see we can maintain the quality and kind of services we provide," said Registered Nurse Stephanie Wells

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