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Minnesota nurses authorize second strike, starting Dec. 11

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Angela Becchetti, a registered nurse from Abbott Northwestern- Alina, speaks at a press conference announcing the intent for the nurses to strike Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 at the Minnesota Nurses Association in St. Paul, Minn. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nurses at 16 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas have authorized workers to go on a second strike, which union leaders said Thursday will begin on Dec. 11 if a contract deal is not reached in coming days.

The Minnesota Nurses Association said the walkouts will last until Dec. 31 at most hospitals; nurses at St. Luke’s hospitals in Duluth and Two Harbors will stay on strike until a deal is reached. Leaders of the association hope the vote will motivate hospital leadership to improve offers on pay, workplace violence prevention and staffing levels.

“We’ve been begging for help for two years; it’s fallen on deaf ears,” Amy McGlone, a pediatric intensive care nurse at Children’s Minnesota in St. Paul, told the Star Tribune. She added that “our hospital is on life support. We need change. We need improved staffing.”

A similar vote in the fall led to a three-day strike of around 15,000 nurses.

Allina Health spokesperson Conny Bergerson said in a statement that Allina is disappointed that a strike notice was issued “when our community is experiencing a triple threat of illnesses — influenza, RSV and COVID — and before they have exhausted all available options to reach agreement.” Bergerson said hospitals are under “unprecedented stress.”

Nurses, meanwhile, have drawn a clear line between understaffing and overwhelmed hospitals this flu season.

Allina’s Abbott Northwestern, Mercy and United hospitals are involved in the contract talks along with North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale, HealthPartners’ Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Children’s Minnesota, and M Health Fairview’s Southdale and St. John’s hospitals along with the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

Essentia hospitals in Duluth and Superior are also involved, along with the two St. Luke’s hospitals.

The involved Twin Cities hospitals, other than Allina, issued a written statement saying they will stay open during potential 10-day strike, though non-critical procedures may need to be rescheduled. Patients with urgent needs were told to continue to call 911 or go to emergency rooms, but may see longer wait times.

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