The Potluck

Hospitals allege nurses’ strike would be illegal; union says it won’t back down

By: - September 1, 2022 8:42 pm

Nurses picketed outside Abbott Northwestern Hospital and 10 other Twin Cities hospitals on Jun. 1, 2022, as they negotiate new three-year contracts. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Hours after the Minnesota Nurses Association announced 15,000 nurses would go on strike at hospitals across the Twin Cities and Duluth area, several health systems filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to block the strike. 

A spokeswoman for St. Luke’s Duluth said the union has not given proper notice of their intent to strike to appropriate government entities as required by federal law.

“This strike is illegal,” said the statement shared by spokeswoman Jessica Stauber of St. Luke’s Duluth. “The MNA has been put on notice that engaging in a strike on September 12 would be an unlawful act, and we expect that MNA will withdraw its strike notice.” 

The nurses’ union announced on Thursday that they were giving the required 10 days notice of a strike after negotiations stalled over new labor contracts. Union nurses said they’ll strike for three days at 16 hospitals later this month in what will be the largest private sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history.

Hospital leaders told the union it needed to provide 30 days notice and alert the state Bureau of Mediation Services. The union says that’s wrong, and that the Bureau of Mediation Services “does not have jurisdiction over private sector employers,” according to a union statement.

Calls to the Bureau of Mediation Services were not immediately returned.

HealthPartners, Children’s Minnesota, Fairview Health Services, North Memorial and Essentia also filed complaints alleging the union failed to give proper notice. Allina Health, whose nurses have also given notice of a strike, did not file a complaint. An Allina spokesperson said there was not a notification issue for them.

A union statement said nurses remain steadfast: “It is clear that hospital executives are feeling the power of 15,000 nurses fighting for our patients and our profession. We will not be intimidated by their attempts to silence or scare us, and we intend to proceed with a strike to win fair contracts to put patients before profits.” 

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.