The nurses strike: What's at stake with the Oct. 1 deadline

If they don't come to an agreement, striking nurses will have to start paying their own health insurance.
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Nurses and Allina Health officials are returning to the bargaining table three weeks after an open-ended strike began.

A federal mediator called both sides back, with negotiations expected to take place Tuesday, according to the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents nearly 5,000 nurses. They work at five Allina Health hospitals in the Twin Cities.

The nurses and Allina health haven't met since negotiations broke down the first weekend of September, prior to the start of the unfair labor practices strike on Sept. 5.

What's at stake for nurses

If the nurses don't return to work by Oct. 1, they'll have to pay COBRA if they want to continue their health insurance coverage.

And even if contract negotiations are resolved before Oct. 1, that doesn't guarantee a striking nurse will get called back to work a shift before the Oct. 1 deadline, meaning they may still have to pay their full health insurance out of their own pocket, according to Allina's website.

The five Twin Cities hospitals affected by the strike are: Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United in St. Paul, Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis, Unity in Fridley and Mercy in Coon Rapids.

What's at stake for Allina

The longer the strike goes, the more it's costing Allina Health to pay part-time nurses to cover for striking nurses.

The nurses' one-week strike back in June cost the health care system $20 million, WCCO reported. Work Day Minnesota says Allina is spending 10 times what it would cost it to settle the contract on replacement nurses.

Allina hired roughly 1,500 temporary nurses, while 599 nurses have crossed the picket line and are working instead of striking, the Pioneer Press reports.

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