Breaking News: Bemidji Nurses Serve Notice

5 Aug

Listen Up: Bemidji Nurses Deliver 10-day notice of intent to conduct informational picket outside Sanford Hospital

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, 651-414-2863

BEMIDJI, Minnesota (August 5, 2011) – Frustrated by Sanford Bemidji Hospital’s refusal to meet in a timely fashion and fearing for the safety of their patients and each other, nurses delivered a formal 10-day informational picketing notice today to hospital officials.

The picketing is scheduled to occur outside the hospital from 3-5 p.m. on August 17, during the midst of what Sanford officials are touting as “Gala Week,” a six-day celebration of the corporation’s “plans to raise the bar for fiscal year 2012 and beyond,” according to its website.

“Apparently, Sanford Health is too busy celebrating the expansion of its growing corporate empire to resolve legitimate and significant concerns about the safety of its patients and nurses,” said Peter Danielson, RN, chair of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) bargaining team. “I can tell you, right now, the environment I’m working in is oftentimes not safe for our patients and our nurses. Such a large part of these contract negotiations has been aimed at remedying these unsafe staffing situations. It boggles your mind to see that while Sanford has time for a weeklong, corporate extravaganza to talk about its financial goals, it doesn’t have time to negotiate a contract that has a direct impact on the safety and well-being of its patients.”

While not wanting to rush directly into a strike, Danielson said nurses can no longer stand idly by as they watch their patients and co-workers continue to suffer. He said nurses hope that conducting an informational picket during “Gala Week” will show the public where Sanford Bemidji’s priorities appear to lie when it comes to addressing patient and nurse safety inside the hospital.

Despite recent and well-publicized statements from its Marketing Director and Chief Operations Officer stating Sanford Bemidji continues to “be open to further negotiations” and is “always willing to negotiate – always,” hospital officials recently told a federal mediator the hospital won’t come back to the bargaining table any earlier than September 7, 2011.

The current contract between the hospital and 230 nurses represented by MNA expired on February 28, 2011, and negotiations have been ongoing since early April. Nurses voted overwhelmingly on July 28 to reject Sanford’s “final” contract offer, instead authorizing bargaining team leaders to call for a strike.

“Our nurses would love nothing better than to reach an agreement with management that is both fair to nurses and puts patient safety – in writing – as its top priority,” Danielson said. “The hospital has forced us into this position by refusing to honor either of those requests for the past several months. And now they expect us – and, more importantly, their patients – to continue operating in an unsafe staffing environment for at least another month because they’re too busy hosting corporate events and outlining their fiscal goals?”

Sanford Health, a growing corporate health giant that employs 18,000 workers across eight different states, recently bought the Bemidji hospital – previously known as North Country Regional Hospital – and is negotiating its first contract with members of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Major sticking points in the talks have included safe staffing levels and the ability for nurses to have what they feel are adequate resources available for patient care at the bedside, according to Danielson. Other issues include hospital management’s demand for major concessions from nurses regarding their healthcare and pension plans, a move that would make it extremely difficult for the hospital to recruit and retain qualified nurses.

Founded in 1905, the Minnesota Nurses Association has represented Bemidji nurses for more than 30 years and represents more than 20,000 nurses in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. MNA is also an affiliate of National Nurses United, which represents more than 170,000 RNs across the United States.

Please visit MNA’s Bemidji page for more details and updates at http://www.mnnurses.org/Bemidji

One Response to “Breaking News: Bemidji Nurses Serve Notice”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Video: An interesting (check that: VERY interesting) update out of Bemidji negotiations « Minnesota Nurses - August 30, 2011

    […] a very interesting quote, in light of how things had been going to this point. So did the powerful informational picket conducted by Bemidji RNs earlier this month […]

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