Twin Cities nurses: Potential strike would last one dayby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Twin Cities nurses considering a strike to protest staffing levels and cuts to their pension plan say the possible walkout would last only one day.
About 12,000 nurses are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to strike as part of negotiations with Twin Cities Hospitals.
The Minnesota Nurses Association has recommended a strike after the hospitals and the nurses have failed to come to an agreement over the nurses' contract, which starts June 1.
Association spokesman John Nemo said after a vote to strike, nurses would wait at least 10 days before walking out.
"That 10-day period not only gives the hospitals time to make contingency plans, but allows both sides to come back to the table," he said.
Besides concerns about cuts to their retirement plans, the nurses say staffing levels at the hospitals are too low, putting patients at risk.
The hospitals say they already provide some of the safest patient care in the country and that the nurses' proposal is too expensive.
In a written statement, the Twin Cities Hospitals said they have no interest in a strike.
"The Twin Cities Hospitals remain committed to reaching an agreement with the nurses' union," the statement read. "It's disappointing that the nurses' union is making plans for a strike when there is still time to reach an agreement."
Nemo said a one-day strike will be an effective way for the nurses to get their message across.
"The reasoning behind that is that it's going to have the maximum impact on our employers, let them know that the nurses are serious," Nemo said. "And at the same time, most importantly, a one-day strike has minimal impact on the patients that we care for and also for our nurses."
If the nurses vote to strike, the union will continue negotiating with hospitals, so it's possible an agreement could be reached. If not, the hospitals will have to hire replacement nurses to cover shifts.