Nurses gather Wednesday for historic contract vote


More than 12,000 Twin Cities nurses will gather inside the St. Paul RiverCentre Wednesday to cast what could become a historic vote. 

Minnesota nurses conduct informational picketing
Nurses have been conducting informational picketing to highlight the issues in the contract talks.

Workday Minnesota photo

Nurses will either approve the pension and contract proposals made by six different Twin Cities Hospital systems representing 13 different hospitals or vote to authorize the largest nursing strike in U.S. history.

Nurses will be able to vote all day long, beginning at 6:00 a.m. until the polls close at 10 p.m. Voting results will be made available and announced shortly after 10 p.m.

If authorized, a strike could begin as early as June 1. However, bargaining committees may decide to begin at a later date, the union said. Hospital systems affected are North Memorial, HealthEast, Allina, Methodist, Children’s and Fairview.

At the forefront of 2010 talks are two issues – RN staffing levels and the nurses’ pension fund, which has been in place since 1962.

“The safety and quality of care for our patients is on the line,” said Minnesota Nurses Association President Linda Hamilton, who works as a registered nurse in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. “Nurses always have and always will be an outspoken advocate for the men, women and children of Minnesota who are put under our care. These negotiations are all about the bottom line. For nurses, that bottom line remains the same – patients before profits.”