Mayo Albert Lea hospital workers locked out
Albert Lea, MN — On Dec. 20, Mayo Albert Lea Hospital blocked 79 SEIU Healthcare MN hospital workers from returning to work after they went out on a one-day strike the day before. The members went on strike because they have been without a contract for over a year.
The main sticking points in bargaining have been around healthcare, pensions and a proposal from Mayo – which, if accepted by the members – would take away their right to bargain over most of their benefits. The workers clearly understand what is at stake and more than 90% of the workers in the group voted to strike, and an even higher number did not cross the picket line, even in the face of threats from management to lock them out. One day later those threats came true.
When the workers tried to return to work at 6 a.m. on Dec. 20, Mayo blockaded the doors with human resources personnel and security guards. The workers were then informed that Mayo was locking them out through Christmas and they could not return until Dec. 26. This is the first time there has been a strike at Mayo. It is also the first time there has been a lockout at a hospital in Minnesota history.
The SEIU members were shocked and disgusted that Mayo would stoop to the level of locking them out at Christmas. The lockout has only deepened the resolve of the workers. They have kept the picket lines strong for the last four days and on Dec. 21 they even drove to Rochester where they picketed, sang Christmas carols and dumped coal at the door of Mayo's headquarters.
On Saturday, Dec. 24 the workers will return home and spend Christmas with their families before returning to their jobs at 6 a.m. on Dec. 26. They will not give up their right to bargain for benefits and they are ready to continue fighting if Mayo does not come to the table ready to bargain soon.