Tentative agreement reached at eight Twin Cities hospitals

MINNEAPOLIS — SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at eight Twin Cities Hospitals have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that includes strengthened health and safety provisions to protect both workers and patients. The new language represents a significant step forward on a major goal for the 3,500 workers covered by the contract, the union said. “With the shift in healthcare towards primary, preventive and ambulatory care, the patients we see in our hospitals are sicker and the threat of infectious agents is greater than ever before,” said Maxine Maxon, a Nursing Assistant at the Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis. “We are proud that we won stronger protections for our health and safety at work, as well as the health and safety of our patients and anyone who visits our hospitals.”

“We are the people who take care of our patients and take care of our hospitals, so we want to make sure that no one is put in an unsafe situation if it can be avoided,” said Billie Brown, a Mental Health Assistant at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. “Our new contract will help us limit exposure to infectious agents in our hospitals and it addresses our right to refuse work in certain circumstances where our health and safety may be at risk.”

The agreement was reached early Friday morning, shortly before Sunday’s expiration of the current contract. Continue Reading

Transportation, budget will be focus of 2015 legislative session

The Minnesota Legislature’s 2015 session convenes Tuesday, with passage of transportation legislation and a state budget at the top of the agenda. Transportation – including mass transit as well as highways and roads – is seen as the major unfinished priority from 2014. Move Minnesota, a coalition of groups that includes organized labor, is pushing for a comprehensive transportation legislation that includes:

Reliable roads and bridges
Greater accountability and transparency
Better transit access
Safe, convenient bike and pedestrian choices

“If Minnesota does not fix its transportation system, our economy and ability to create and retain jobs will be at risk,” the coalition said. “Our economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, yet the cost of fixing and upgrading our transportation system cannot be met with current funding. Making smart investments in transportation will ensure Minnesota can compete for jobs and businesses.”

Lawmakers also must pass a two-year budget to fund health, human services, education and many other needs. Continue Reading

Wage increase, organizing were highlights of 2014

The first minimum wage increase in nine years and the union vote by 26,000 home health care workers were among the highlights for Minnesota’s workers in 2014. The year was marked by major organizing efforts, both inside and outside the workplace, particularly among low-wage workers. The 2014 legislative session featured many gains, including passage of the minimum wage increase. A hopeful tone was set in early February, when the world-class musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra returned after being locked out of their jobs for nearly 16 months. Not long after, hundreds filled the state Capitol for a rally in support of the minimum wage increase. Continue Reading