Hospitals

Efforts to break hospital/nurses stalemate fail; Strike imminent

Twin Cities hospitals late Tuesday offered a revised contract proposal to the nurses union, which promptly rejected it, setting the stage for a protracted strike set for next week. In an e-mail, spokeswoman Maureen Schriner said the hospitals, which include Allina, Children’s Hospital, Park Nicollet, Fairview, North Memorial and HealthEast, offered to drop cuts to […]

Twin Cities hospitals late Tuesday offered a revised contract proposal to the nurses union, which promptly rejected it, setting the stage for a protracted strike set for next week.

In an e-mail, spokeswoman Maureen Schriner said the hospitals, which include Allina, Children’s Hospital, Park Nicollet, Fairview, North Memorial and HealthEast, offered to drop cuts to the nurses pension plan in exchange for the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) withdrawing its strike notification and recommending the contact to its members.

The hospitals also proposed to create a joint task force with the union that would explore nurse-to-patient staffing levels, a key issue to the MNA, which represents 12,000 nurses in the metro area.

“While the hospitals initially proposed modifications to the pension plans, we have offered to remove those proposals from negotiations and have outlined other changes that would be part of a new contract,”  Schriner said. “In addition, the Twin Cities hospitals have put on the table a letter of understanding to establish a collaborative effort with the union to develop a patient acuity system that explores overall nurse workload and patient distribution.”

However, the union immediately rejected the proposal. In a post on the MNA blog, the union said such a task force has already been tried and “failed miserably and was consequently disbanded.”

The MNA held firm to its demand for set nurses-to-patient staffing ratios.

“In regards to staffing, MNA removed several components of our proposal that the hospitals felt were too rigid, while at the same time maintaining a maximum patient assignment for each nurse based on the individual needs and acuity (how sick a particular patient is) of each patient assigned to a particular nurse.”

Barring a last-minute breakthrough, a strike, set for July 6, now seems inevitable. After days of negotiations, the two sides are miles apart on several issues, most notably the staffing ratios.

While the MNA offered to return to negotiations, the hospitals warned that “the hospitals will return to the contract proposals we made in May and will move forward with contingency plans for a strike.”