Nurses strike in Minneapolis-St. Paul as others demand recount of contract votes
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – With 1,500 nurses already on strike at two Twin Cities hospitals, union officials said Monday that votes approving new labor contracts at two other clinics were ”in doubt.”
Jan Rabbers, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Nurses Association, said questions had been raised about vote tallies at Minneapolis’ Abbott Northwestern Hospital and the Phillips Eye Institute. She did not release the results.
Both hospitals belong to the Allina Health System. Nurses demanded recounts of weekend ratification votes by staff at those hospitals and two other Allina clinics.
The recounts at those clinics – Mercy and United – confirmed contract-ratifying tallies. Some 3,200 registered nurses are employed at the four hospitals.
On Sunday, 1,500 nurses at Fairview Southdale and the Fairview-University Medical Center went on strike after rejecting a tentative contract offer they said did not provide for adequate patient care. The contract had offered pay increases of nearly 20 percent over three years.
Dr. Kevin Nelson, chief of staff at Fairview Southdale, said both hospitals were operating normally with replacement nurses.
”The hospitals remain open. We’re caring for patients, babies continue to be born, appendectomies continue to be done,” Nelson said.
No talks were scheduled.
The four Allina hospitals were also operating normally. Abbott Northwestern and Phillips issued a joint statement calling the uncertainty ”a difficult situation for our patients, our nurses, our employees, our physicians and, most of all, our community.”
A company spokeswoman declined further comment, saying the hospitals were awaiting word from the union.
As she awaited word on the recount, Jodi Bewell, an 11-year veteran at Abbott Northwestern, joined fellow nurses on the picket line outside Fairview Riverside.
”I’m here to support these guys. They’re the only two hospitals that hung in there and stuck with it,” said Bewell, who pushed her 2-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter in a stroller as her 5-year-old daughter walked along.
On the Net:
Minnesota Nurses Association: http://www.mnnurses.org
American Nurses Association: http://www.ana.org
Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership: http://www.mhhp.com
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