12,800 Twin Cities nurses worry about sufficient staffing and their pensions


12,800 Twin Cities nurses’ contracts expire June 1st, and they feel they are getting nowhere with negotiations. Wednesday they were outside Allina Health Care in St Paul, at their Nasseff Heart Center. Hundreds of nurses belonging to the Minnesota Nurses Association, from this hospital and others, were outside with pickets and red shirts, asking for honks. Details of their negotiations with Allina, are on this blog.
I wanted to hear what they had to say in person. Naomi English, MNA negotiator, explains that MNA feels that United hasn’t compromised a thing, and describes contract negotiations as give-backs to United over staffing and the pension plan. Many nurses wondered if Allina Health Care had a different goal than the nurses. Negotiator Naomi English points out Allina wasn’t at the State Capital lobbying for the General Medical Assistance Compromise.

Editor’s note: Craig Stellmacher is a former health care worker.

In the crowd outside United were several state legislators including Sen. D. Scott Dibble and Sen. Sandy Rummel. Sen. Dibble felt their issues were valid, and he’d listened to the nurses complaints over staffing and hours and found them disturbing.

I’ve worked in health care in the past. I talked to several nurses today, and constantly heard them cite “unsafe staffing levels” as their worry. But, I cautioned them, “I don’t think many outside health care, understand what ‘staffing levels’ means.” I mention this worry, to Senators Dibble and Rummel at the end, and I lament :
“Most people who look at this issue tomorrow, are going to read the first six words about it : The headline. And that will be their encounter with it”–I say.
“That’s about right.”–Sen. Rummel.
“Then how you shape those words is pretty scary isn’t it?”
“It is.”–Sen. Rummel.
American Health Care is sick, and internally it seems to have conflicting goals… Some see the focus on the quality of health care for all, while some focus on making a profit for their stock holders.