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Minnesota mental health workers set date for three-day strike

Minnesota mental health workers set date for three-day strike
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Workers at both healthcare facilities filed a 10-day notice before the strike begins Oct. 3.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mental health workers from M Health Fairview and Allina Health filed a 10-day notice on Monday for their Unfair Labor Practice strike that would begin Oct. 3 if no agreement is reached.

Over 400 workers from both organizations are also members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa, and say they continue to struggle to reach an agreement for a “fair first contract.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa said in a press release Monday that 98% of workers voted in support of authorizing the strike if needed.

The mental health workers’ strike comes about two weeks after 15,000 nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association held a three-day strike at various hospitals across the Twin Cities.

“We are fighting for safe staffing levels and a contract that helps us work to improve our industry, but we keep running into dead ends from the employer,” said Dana Disbrow, a psychiatric associate at M Health Fairview. “We’ve already lost too many good workers because of the challenges we are facing, and we are ready to strike for the health, safety and dignity of ourselves and our patients,” Disbrow added.

“We have made immense strides toward a fair resolution while also demanding fair wages, wholistic benefits, and a safer workplace,” said Amanda Reasor, a senior mental health coordinator at Allina Unity Hospital. “We deserve to be treated like the professionals we are, yet Allina has come back time and time again saying ‘not interested’ to some of the most important facets to our contract.”

M Health released the following statement:

We share the desire for our psych associates, senior psych associates, and behavioral assistants to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported. We have negotiated in good faith with the union for the last 9 months to align on a contract that supports our employees and provides us with the flexibility we need to provide top-quality care to our patients. We have made significant progress, including reaching 17 tentative agreements.”

Health care organizations across the country are in the middle of a dual staffing and mental health crisis. We know that our staff are facing levels of demand for mental health care never before seen. We will continue to bargain in good faith with our colleagues to settle on a contract all parties believe is equal and fair.”

Allina Health released a statement Monday in response to the Unfair Labor Practice strike:

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Allina Health values ​​our employees and recognizes the critical services senior mental health coordinators provide to the community. We have negotiated in good faith with the union 18 times since they thing to unionize. It is typical for newly formed bargaining units to take more than a year, on average, to reach an agreement on their first contract. There are additional bargaining sessions this week and throughout October to enable the parties to reach an agreement and avoid a strike which did not advance our discussions in May when SEIU first took employees out on strike.”

Throughout negotiations, Allina Health has offered an economic package that provides competitive compensation and additional benefits. We have also offered the same language the union agreed to on behalf of other Allina Health employees regarding workplace safety. Striking does not benefit anyone. However, we will be prepared to continue caring for our community in the event a settlement is not reached.”

A spokesperson for SEIU said in the release that union and management representatives have scheduled one mediation session each at both M Health and Allina before workers are set to strike.

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