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Bemidji Clinic RNs say yes to new contract

11 Mar


RNs at Sanford Bemidji Clinic ratified their first contract in February after being officially recognized as part of MNA last October.

RNs say they’re happy to have a contract that protects patients and nurses alike.

“We’re excited about having a contract that protects our rights and ensures we’re all treated fairly,” said negotiating team member Christine Sheikholeslami.

“The new contract creates a wage scale, so raises are allocated fairly and consistently,” said member Tina Hawver.

Previously, managers gave raises arbitrarily.

The contract raises wages for all members, creates security in scheduling, and provides all other contract language to the Clinic RNs that hospital employees receive, such as more affordable health insurance and a cap on mandatory low-census days.

In 2017, the hospital and clinic nurses will bargain together for a new contract as one united group.




Nurse power pays off in Deer River

24 Feb

By Sherri Lidholm, Jodi Isaacs, Shannon Wilberg, Ellyn Peterson: Deer River Health Care Center negotiating team

Negotiations with Essentia Health in Deer River started with a “contraband” cake and ended with our members ratifying a contract that improves compensation, stems the tide of RNs leaving for better-paying jobs in nearby hospitals, and strengthens our union solidarity.

Bargaining got off to a bumpy start last September when we served a cake decorated with the MNA logo to passers-by in an area near the hospital lobby to kick off negotiations. Administration asked us to leave and canceled the next day’s negotiating session.

The “contraband cake incident” helped unite members. We all saw that a good contract was achievable only if we stood together.

Here’s our recipe for reaching the contract we ratified in January:

  •  Communication. We kept everyone updated by phone, text, in person, and on MNA’s website. Members knew they had the latest information at all times.
  • Teamwork. Members realized we needed to fight for what we should rightly have, and worked together to win a good contract. We wore buttons and stickers to show we supported each other.
  • Many members became union stewards to show our solidarity. That gave management a scare!
  • We all became familiar with the existing contract, so we knew what to change to make our hospital a better place to work.
  • MNA support. Nurses in Duluth and Virginia stood and showed their support for us. Our labor representative, Adam Kamp, guided us and made sure we negotiated the important issues.

Beside having a good contract, we now have a better working relationship with Essentia. The hospital saw that it needed to invest in nurses in order to keep the hospital healthy and agreed to the contract.

Cambridge RNs ready for Nov. 20 informational picketing

19 Nov

RNs at Cambridge Medical Center made final preparations for their Nov. 20 informational picketing on Tuesday night.

MNA Cambridge members and their families turned out in force to make signs and other preparations for Thursday’s picketing.

The RNs say they are frustrated with the hospital’s emphasis on profit over patient care and staff.

RNs are very concerned about the hospital’s proposals during the current contract negotiations, and recent staff layoffs.

Community members are solidly behind nurses. “I support our nurses” signs are in yards and businesses throughout Cambridge, and community residents will join the RNs on the picket line on Thursday.

Picketing is 2-6 p.m. on the public sidewalks around the hospital. A candlelight vigil starts at 5 p.m.

Rice County nurses say yes to new contract

29 Sep Rice County nurses

MNA members who work for Rice County Public Health in Faribault will see a wage increase and higher health insurance contributions from the county, thanks to a newly ratified contract.

MNA members voted yes for their new two-year contract on Sept. 19.

It includes a retroactive 2.5 percent pay increase for 2014 and a 2.75 percent raise in 2015.

“The nurses of Rice County have learned a lot through this process about the need for solidarity in the county,” said Negotiating Team member Amber Hauer.” We sent a clear message to the county negotiators that we deserve a contract  without regressive  terms.”

The bargaining unit gained two new members on the day of the vote.

One of them, Tracy Ackerman-Shaw, is a new employee. She said she was eager to join MNA.

“I knew the good MNA does for the members,” she said. “I believe MNA has the best interests of members in mind. They do a fantastic job negotiating the contract.”


Deer River nurses kick off negotiations

9 Sep

Nurses at Essentia Health in Deer River are calling it their ‘contraband cake.’

MNA members kicked off negotiations by serving a cake decorated with the MNA logo to passers-by in an area near the hospital lobby – until they were asked to leave.

contraband cake Sep 4contraband cake 2 sep 4

Hospital administrators not only asked members to move, they canceled the next day’s negotiating session.

Talks are now set for today (Sept. 9).

This is the first contract since Essentia took over the hospital. Nurses say they’re ready to stand up for a contract that shows Essentia is dedicated to supporting the Deer River community and quality nurses who want to work at the hospital and make the area their home.

State nurses’ contract approved

25 Aug

MNA members employed by the State of Minnesota have a new contract.

The Legislature’s Subcommittee on Employee Relations approved the agreement on August 21.

State team
Negotiating team members (front row, left to right): Karen Leathert, Tammy Hughes, Imo Kalla. Back row, left to right: Brent Griffith, Teresa Koenen, Ann Mehltretter

“This is a fair contract that recognizes the top quality of care that nurses provide for patients throughout the state – including mental health, corrections, Department of Health,  and veterans’ facilities,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Tammy Hughes.

“Thanks to Senators James Metzen and Chris Eaton, along with Representative Leon  Lillie, who spoke in support of the contract and the importance of state-employed nurses during subcommittee discussions before the vote,” said MNA Bargaining Agent Lonna-Jean Schmidt Nelson.

The new contract calls for 6.0 percent wage increases over the two-year contract for the 760 registered nurses, most of whom work in Human Services, Corrections, Health, and Veterans’  Homes.


New contracts improve staffing, wages, benefits

25 Aug

From the far north to the far southwest of Minnesota, MNA nurses are winning new contracts that improve staffing, wages, and benefits. Nurses reached out and received community support in their communities to show employers that citizens support nurses.

Nurses at Rainy Lake Medical Center in International Falls, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming,  Sanford Worthington Medical Center, and Fairview Range Regional Health Services in Hibbing have all voted to ratify new contracts in the last month.

International Falls. It took nearly a year of standing strong for a fair contract that protects safe patient care, but Rainy Lake Medical Center nurses approved a tentative agreement and have a new contract this month.

negotiators after ratify

“The community’s support was key for reaching a fair contract and was greatly appreciated,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Wendy Sutch. “The signs posted in businesses, homes, and car windows throughout the community show the public understands the important role that nurses play in patient care and safety.”

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract.

Fairview Lakes. Nurses at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in  Wyoming, MN, were less than a week away from informational picketing when they reached a tentative agreement with management.

tina thompson Dianne Faith

“We achieved a good contract because members stood together,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sue Kreitz.

“Signs in local businesses, stickers, a giant ‘sympathy card’ for management, a video showing the unequal treatment of clinic nurses, and an imminent informational picket sent a clear message we were standing up for a fair contract that benefits staff, patients, and our community,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sandie Anderson.

The new contract makes progress toward addressing scheduling concerns, provides for required reviews of staffing levels and guidelines, and maintains hard-fought-for benefits, all of which will enable the hospital and clinic to attract and retain nurses.

Sanford Worthington. Community support was essential in securing a new three-year contract in Worthington.

“Worthington area residents showed they value nurses and the important role we play in the community by displaying ‘We Support Our Nurses’ signs in their yards and businesses, and voicing support and appreciation wherever they could,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Nancy Ihrke.

theanne and brittany schitl

“We stood up for a fair contract that attracts and retains quality nurses,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Monica McCoy.

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract and members retained all benefits.

Hibbing. Fairview Range nurses won 4.5 percent raises over the three-year contract in the wage-only negotiations.

“Members agreed to discuss wages in these negotiations so we could work for the next three years on improving safe staffing,” said Negotiating Team member Jon  Wesley.

Sandstone nurses vote for their first contract

22 Jul

Sandstone Sign

Essentia Health-Sandstone nurses have a new contract – their first.

Members approved a new four-year contract earlier this month, following two years of organizing and negotiating.

Sandstone nurses organized right after Essentia bought the hospital in 2012.

“We are very excited to have a contract with language that ensures safe staffing, addresses on-call shifts, and gives nurses a stronger voice in our workplace,” said bargaining unit MNA Co-Chair Erin Olson, RN. “The feedback from fellow nurses has been very positive.”

The four-year contract includes:

  • Wage increases of 11 percent over the four years;
  • Orientation and training language modeled on metro nurses’ contracts;
  • On-call pay raise from $4 per hour to the minimum wage;
  • Reimbursement raise from $400 to $700 for continuing education;
  • 401(k) contributions from 3 percent to 7 percent.

“We are most happy to have a voice and solidarity in our dealings with management from now on,” said Olson.


HCMC contract builds on success

11 Jul

Nurses at one of Minnesota’s largest hospitals have a new contract that makes significant improvements in compensation and working conditions conditions that will help recruit and retain nurses at the busy urban Level 1 Trauma facility.

Hennepin County Medical Center nurses overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new three-year contract in June.

“It was time for us to enrich our contract and provide some of the benefits enjoyed by the other metro hospitals,” said HCMC Co-Chair Michele Will, RN. “I think we made steps in that direction.  We were able to secure education money for all nurses and increase the number of weekends off for nurses with ten years of seniority who work every other weekend. The nurses I have spoken to are very appreciative of these new benefits.”

Highlights include:

  • Additional health and safety language;
  • A standardized staffing process;
  • Moving toward absolute parity with other Metro hospitals, including up to 3 percent wage increases in the first year;
  • Locked-in insurance percentage for the life of the contract;
  • Short-term and long-term disability insurance paid by the hospital;
  • Education reimbursements for the first time.

“As a newer unit, we’re building on each contract,” said HCMC MNA Nurses Co-Chair Meg Ploog, RN. “We’re adding major improvements each time we bargain.”

HCMC organized with MNA in 2006.

Members say they’re happy to be part of MNA.

“I feel like we’re more protected with a contract,” said Sharon Jestus, RN. “We’re more vulnerable without a contract.”

“Get involved,” said RN Jimmy McMurray, who started filling out Concern for Safe Staffing forms when he saw that staffing levels on his floor were not allowing nurses to provide adequate care to patients. His actions showed other nurses that they could speak up and cause change. “If we don’t stand up for what’s right, no one will.”

Fairview Lakes fights ‘offensive’ proposals

10 Jul

Nurses at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, MN, are fighting for contract advancements to protect patients, recruit and retain exceptional nurses, and to stop management efforts to take back hard-fought compensation and benefits.

Negotiations officially began in June, with management proposing to deny health insurance coverage and other benefits to almost a dozen nurses who work half time,  increase mandatory low-need days by 50 percent, and continue inequitable pay differentials between clinic and hospital nurses.

“These proposals are offensive and unrealistic,” said Fairview Lakes MNA Co-Chair Sandie Anderson, RN. “Management is treating nurses as second-class citizens.”

Nurses are asking management to make a commitment to patients to ensure there will be adequate staff to care for them and to personally explain to patients if staffing falls below planned-for levels. Additionally, nurses are asking for improvements to wages and benefits. Sadly, management has failed to make efforts to advance patient safety or to provide nurses with a more secure economic future.

Nurses are calling on Fairview Lakes to:

  • Protect patients;
  • Address inequities between nurses who perform the same work;
  • Retain nurses;
  • Protect the future of nursing.

“Fairview should not try to increase profits on the backs of nurses,” Fairview Lakes Co-Chair Susan Kreitz, RN, said. “We are asking Fairview Lakes to put patients and the nurses who care for them first. That means addressing inequities including an unfair pay differential between clinic and hospital nurses.”

Nurses are speaking out about the unequal compensation of clinic and hospital nurses in a new video. The video highlights the high level of care clinic nurses provide to their patients and why clinic nursing is not of lower value than hospital nursing at Fairview Lakes.