June 23, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Minneapolis, Minn – The about 4,800 nurses at Allina Health’s five hospitals in the Twin Cities area began a one-week strike early in the morning of June 19.
The key issue is health insurance: Allina wants to switch the nurses from what CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler calls the union’s costly “Cadillac” plan to company plans that have high deductibles. “It's really not about just the insurance,” said Jo Copas, a nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul. “It's about Allina trying to chip away at our benefits. If they can get this done, then they'll go toward other things.” The Minneapolis-based chain of hospitals and clinics brought in 1,400 temporary nurses to work during the strike, some of whom, the Minnesota Nurses Association says, don’t yet have licenses to practice in the state. Allina argues that nurses are more likely to go to emergency rooms because the union health plan doesn’t have any incentives for using lower-cost care. That’s not the reason, said Jean Riedy, a nurse in the neuro-intensive care unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis: The one time she went to the emergency room happened “when I was kicked in the back of the head by a patient.” Read more