Registered Nurse Monica Proulx says she is ready to strike to protect the profession she loves. With no bargaining scheduled, it seems increasingly likely that members of the Minnesota Nurses Association will conduct a one-day strike Thursday against 14 Twin Cities hospitals.
Proulx said she and the 12,000 nurses who may participate in the walkout have no choice.
“I quit nursing for a while because I was frustrated because I couldn’t give the care I needed to the patients,” said Proulx, who has 25 years’ experience and is currently employed in the surgery unit at Unity Hospital.
“There are patients who don’t want to bother you because they see how busy you are – and they’re in there for care!” she said. MNA would like to set nurse-patient ratios as part of the contract, a move the hospitals are resisting.
“I’m ready for a strike,” Proulx said. “I hope it really drives home the point.”
|Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association assemble strike signs at union headquarters.|
The work stoppage will be the largest nursing-related strike in U.S. history in terms of the number of nurses involved. Previously, the largest strike in history occurred when more than 6,000 Twin Cities nurses walked off the job for 38 days in 1984 before coming to an agreement with area hospitals.
Fourteen hospitals in six hospital systems – Health East, Allina, Methodist, Children’s, North Memorial and Fairview – would be affected.
Talks broke off Friday.
“Our priorities remain: Safe staffing, patient protection, improved education, safety regulations surrounding infectious disease, recruitment and retention so there are enough nurses to care for our communities, and emergency preparedness. We desire to move our profession forward,” the union said in a statement.
“The hospitals’ priorities continue to be: Slash our pension, freeze our wages, more flexibility to send RNs when and where they want to, eliminate benefit eligibility, and to take away our MNA health plans.”
Nurses want to play a role in improving the health care system, Proulx said. “I think the hospitals and nurses can work together, but the nurses need to be listened to more than they are.
“They (hospital management) don’t have to look in a patient’s eyes everyday and be frustrated.”