Politicians, union leaders hold vigil for striking nursesby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Politicians and union leaders hosted a vigil Wednesday night for Twin Cities nurses who plan to strike tomorrow morning.
Hundreds of people in red Minnesota Nurses Association t-shirts filled the pews of St Matthew's Lutheran Church in St. Paul.
Speakers led them in cheers and singing.
St. Matthew's Pastor, Grant Stevenson, told the nurses they weren't just standing up to the Twin Cities hospitals, Stevenson says the nurses are fighting a health care industry driven by profits.
"Everyone who's been in the hospital knows there's one group of people that you trust. It's the nurses," he said. "If the nurses say this is what we need we should listen. Really. They're the ones who understand what it means to take care of people who are ill."
The nurses are striking for 24 hours to increase staffing levels and preserve pension benefits.
About 12,000 nurses plan to strike for 24 hours beginning Thursday morning. They're fighting for increased staffing and pension benefits at 14 Twin Cities hospitals. The hospitals say the strikers' proposals would raise costs for patients.
Tee McClenty of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota says the hospitals should know that Minnesota Nursing Association isn't standing alone.
"I think it's important for the community to see and for the employers to see that it's not just about the nurses," she said. "It's about all of us. It's about the teamsters. it's about the steelworkers. It's about SEIU. And what you do to one union, all of us are going to have their back."
The hospitals have hired substitute nurses to replace the strikers. The hospitals say the nurses' demands would raise the cost of care to patients.