The largest nurses strike in U. S. history started Monday in Minnesota. Those walking the picket lines say they want the public to know it’s not just about higher wages, arguing that hospital executives are putting profits first. The three-day walkout includes 15,000 nurses from more than a dozen hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth. Union leaders say while they are seeking higher wages, they stress that structural issues related to staffing make it harder to provide adequate care for patients. Brittany Livaccari is an E-R nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul. She amplified that argument when speaking to reporters.
She and other union members say they want to have more of a say in how hospitals are staffed. The Twin Cities Hospital Group criticized the nurses for choosing to strike before exhausting all negotiating efforts. It adds that several hospitals have reached tentative agreements on revised workplace safety measures. Contract talks have been dragging on for several months.
State Representative Tina Liebling chairs the House Health, Finance and Policy Committee. She says the entire state needs to know that each hospital needs skilled nurses to care for people’s families, friends and neighbors. But she feels that message isn’t getting through to administrators.
The Morning Consult firm recently reported that 18% of American health-care workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic, while another 12% have been laid off. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, contingency plans were put in place to avoid care disruptions during the strike. However, some patients might see scheduling changes for non-urgent care.