Mental health workers in Minnesota have set a three-day strike date

Workers at the two healthcare facilities provided 10 days’ notice before the strike began on October 3.

MINNEAPOLIS — Mental health workers from M Health Fairview and Alina Health filed a 10-day notice Monday of their unfair strike action that will begin October 3 if no agreement is reached.

More than 400 workers from both organizations are also members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for healthcare in Minnesota and Iowa, and say they are continuing to fight for agreement on a “fair first contract.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa said in a press release Monday that 98% of workers voted to support authorization to strike if necessary.

The mental health workers’ strike comes about two weeks after 15,000 nurses from the Minnesota Nurses Association went on strike for three days at various hospitals across the Twin Cities.

“We struggle for safe employment levels and a contract that helps us work to improve our industry, but we still run into employer deadlocks,” said Dana Desbrow, a psychological assistant at M Health Fairview. “We have already lost far too many good workers due to the challenges we are facing, and we are ready to strike for the health, safety and dignity of ourselves and our patients,” added Despro.

“We have made huge strides toward a fair solution while also demanding fair wages, comprehensive benefits and a safer workplace,” said Amanda Resor, Senior Mental Health Coordinator at Alina Unity Hospital. “We deserve to be treated like professionals, but Alina came back time and time again saying ‘not interested’ in some of the most important aspects of our contract.”

M Health released the following statement:

We share the desire for our fellow Psychologists, Senior Psychologists and Behavior Aids to work in an environment where they feel valued and supported. We have negotiated in good faith with the Federation over the past nine months to agree to a contract that supports our employees and provides us with the flexibility we need to deliver high-quality care to our patients. We have made significant progress, including reaching 17 preliminary agreements.”

Healthcare organizations across the country are in the midst of a dual staff and mental health crisis. We know that our employees are facing unprecedented levels of demand for mental health care. We will continue to bargain in good faith with our colleagues to settle a contract that all parties believe is equal and fair.”

Allina Health issued a statement Monday in response to the unfair strike on labor practices:

Allina Health values ​​our employees and values ​​the important services that our Senior Mental Health Coordinators provide to the community. We have negotiated in good faith with the union 18 times since they chose the union. It is typical for newly formed bargaining units to take on average more than a year to reach agreement on their first contract. There are additional negotiating sessions this week and throughout October to enable the parties to reach an agreement and avoid a strike that did not progress in our discussions in May when the SEIU first went on strike.”

During the negotiations, Allina Health offered an economic package that provides competitive compensation and additional benefits. We also provided the same union-approved language on behalf of other Allina Health employees regarding workplace safety. Hitting doesn’t help anyone. However, we will be ready to continue caring for our community in case a settlement is not reached.”

In the statement, a SEIU spokesperson said union and management representatives had scheduled one mediation session each at M Health and Allina before workers began to strike.

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