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Minnesota nurses voting on strike

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) is currently in the midst of a strike authorization vote. If 2/3 of the membership votes to authorize a strike, MNA members may picket line as early as July 1.

The MNA has been locked in a battle with 14 Twin Cities hospitals for months. The nurses association is pushing for what it considers safe staffing levels — 1 RN to 4 patients on med-surg units, 1 RN to 2 patients in critical care units — and annual raises of 3.5 to 4 percent (vs. the hospitals’ proposal of 0, 1 and 2 percent). The nurses also hope to maintain pension benefits.

While the nurses authorized a one-day strike, the largest nursing strike in history, earlier this month, no progress has been made in contract negotiations. MNA members will vote today at two separate locations. A yes vote doesn’t mean a strike is imminent; it simply gives members of the bargaining committee the power to call a strike. If the union decides to strike, state law requires 10 days notice to ensure continuity of patient care.

The Michigan nurses rallying call — safe staffing — has become a hot topic in nationwide. In California, 12,000 nurses are currently in dispute with University of California hospitals over staffing. A recent op-ed in the New York Times cited researcher Linda Aiken’s work, which links safe staffing ratios with fewer patient deaths.

Do you think strikes are an adequate way of addressing staffing concerns? Why or why not?


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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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