Minnesota nurses launched a three-day strike Monday. They were unhappy about their low salaries and lack of staffing, which was made worse by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Around 15,000 nurses from seven health care systems in Minneapolis and Duluth walked out. According to the affected hospitals, they had already hired temporary nurses and were expecting to continue providing most services.
Picket signs were put up, and strike chants began at 7 AM outside of 15 Twin Cities and Duluth area hospitals.
Both the hospitals and striking nurses stated that staff shortages are a common concern.
Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, stated that pay raises were necessary to address the “crisis in retention”, which would otherwise result in hospitals being severely understaffed.
While hospitals offer 10-12% wage increases, nurses want more than 30%. Hospital leaders called their wage demands unreasonable, noting that Allina & Fairview hospitals had suffered operating losses. They also said that patients would have to pay the steep wage increases.
“The union rejected any requests for mediation and held firm to wage demands that were unrealistic, unreasonable, and unaffordable,” several Twin Cities hospitals on strike stated in a joint statement.
Madi Gay, a second-year nurse, was picketing Monday morning following her overnight shift. stated to the Star Tribune she had already reduced her hours at M Health Fairview Southdale Hospital due to the stress and frustration that comes with caring for so many seriously ill patients.
Gay asked, “How long do you think this will last?” “My license is at risk.”
Sam Fettig, Union spokesperson, stated that nurses settled on a three-day strike rather than an open-ended one because they were concerned about the effect of prolonged labor action on patient care.