The Minnesota Nurses Association authorized a strike that will start Dec. 11 and last 20 days in the Twin Cities if no deal is reached between union leaders and hospital executives.
The strike comes after a vote Wednesday which the MNA said "passed overwhelmingly." This marks the second such strike since September, as nurses continue their demand better working conditions, accusing hospital executives of subjecting them to unfair labor practices.
In two separate press conferences on Thursday — one held in the Twin Cities and another in Duluth — the MNA said the strike will begin at 7 a.m. Dec. 11 to 7 a.m. Dec. 31 if a deal is not reached for Twin Cities Hospital Group and Essentia locations.
In addition, nurses at St. Luke's in Duluth and Lake View in Two Harbors will also begin a strike on Dec. 11 and will continue indefinitely.
The union has been without a contract since June, with negotiations beginning in March. Wages have been a sticking point at the negotiating table, with tentative agreements reached on workplace safety measures and practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
MNA leaders have sought wage increases by 39% over the life of the next three-year contract, according to hospital leaders. Turner said that they've lowered their wage increase-demands "down to 20%" over a proposed three-year deal.
During the last round of negotiations, hospitals said they offered around a 10-12% increase over three years, claiming it's the largest wage increase they have offered in the past 15 years.
"Let us be clear — we do not want to be outside on those sidewalks. That decision now rests with our hospital executives," said Angela Becchetti, a nurse and member on the MNA board.
Strike comes with Minnesota hospitals near capacity
The strike will come at a time when Minnesota's hospitals are already stretched.
Both the Twin Cities Hospital Group and Allina Health shared their displeasure with the decision to strike, saying illnesses such as RSV, COVID and influenza cases "are already stressing out" healthcare systems across the state.
The spike in respiratory cases has led to limited capacity at state hospitals. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there are currently only 1% medical and surgical beds available in the Twin Cities right now.
Data shows hospitalization rates by county rising in the Twin Cities, north and southeastern parts of the state.
ICU beds across the state are filling up due to COVID and non-COVID related reasons. While COVID hospitalizations have dropped since the beginning of the year, hospitalizations in general have remained at a high rate.
To see the latest data from the department of health, click here.