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Minnesota nurses vote overwhelmingly to authorize open-ended strike

By Deb Konechne

Minneapolis, MN – Throughout the day on June 21, thousands of nurses streamed to the voting sites and overwhelmingly voted to authorize an open-ended strike against 14 Twin Cities hospitals. With 84% voting in support of authorizing a strike, the nurses have taken another historic step. On June 10, in the largest single strike in U.S. history, 12,000 nurses walked out for a one-day strike. After the hospitals refused to return to the bargaining table, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) called for a second vote, this time to authorize a strike that could be open ended.

The MNA must give a ten day notice of intent to strike, with early July being the earliest a strike would begin.

“This is a vote we never wanted to take,” said Linda Hamilton, a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “The hospitals forced us to this point by adamantly refusing to address even a single proposal related to patient safety over the past three months of negotiations. But Minnesota nurses will do whatever is necessary to protect our patients. We have been and continue to be united for our patients and safe staffing levels.”

In addition to appropriate staffing levels, the nurses are protesting the hospitals’ proposal to cut pensions by one-third. The hospitals are also trying to take away many other benefits that workers have fought for and earned over the years.

The nurses will be striking to maintain their hard-fought benefits and are challenging attempts by the hospital corporations to squeeze the workers while they continue to make huge profits.

After the June 10 one-day strike, the MNA reported that some Twin Cities hospitals illegally locked out nurses. The MNA filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Depending on the outcome of this charge, the strike authorized tonight could be based on that outcome, guaranteeing that none of the striking nurses could be permanently replaced.

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