Nurses at five Twin Cities hospitals walked off their jobs Sunday morning to begin a seven-day strike.
It comes after contract negotiations between the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and Allina Health broke down.
“All nurses have compassionate ties toward the patients they’re taking care of,” MNA spokesman Rick Fuentes told the Star Tribune. “This is a difficult decision.”
Hundreds of nurses were on the picket lines when the strike began at 7 a.m. Sunday, according to reports.
The five hospitals affected are: Abbot Northwestern and Philips Eye Institute, which are both in Minneapolis, United in St. Paul; Mercy in Coon Rapids; and Unity in Fridley.
Allina Health says care at the hospitals won't be affected during the strike – the health care system has hired temporary nurses for the next week.
The MNA represents nearly 5,000 nurses who work at Allina Health hospitals. The strike is set to go until 7 a.m. Sunday, according to the union.
Why are they striking?
The main sticking point is that Allina wants to drop the nurses from a health insurance plan in their union contract and move them to the coverage other Allina employees have.
The company says the plans nurses have been using are considered “Cadillac plans” by the federal government and offer no incentives for consumers to make economical choices in their health care. Allina estimates $10 million would be saved by moving the nurses to different coverage.
The nurses argue a union-backed health insurance plan is important, partly because the nature of their jobs puts them at greater risk of infection or injury, the Star Tribune reported.
The union also says insurance is not the only issue. Their statement says workplace safety and staffing levels also need attention and Allina has not responded to union proposals on them.
Tweets from the strike