Metro hospital workers OK contractby Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Support staff at eight Twin Cities hospitals have approved a new three-year contract.
The Service Employees International Union says rank-and-file workers OK'd the agreement by an "overwhelming majority," according to a release from the union.
Last week, SEIU members voted to authorize a strike, but union leaders were able to negotiate a deal with management.
The 3,500 workers include cafeteria staff, nursing assistants and maintenance crews in the Children's, Health East, Park Nicollet, North Memorial and Fairview hospital systems.
Speaking on behalf of all the involved hospitals, Jeremiah Whitten of Park Nicollet Hospital said, "We're very pleased that the contract has been approved, that meets the needs of our SEIU members and demonstrates sound financial stewardship for our patients, for our families and for the communities that we serve."
An earlier management proposal would have reduced benefits such as overtime and health insurance, the union said.
"While the hospitals were asking us workers to work more for less, we were simply trying to hold the line on proposed cuts that would have reduced benefits like overtime and health insurance," Jermaine Rayford, a cook at Fairview Southdale Hospital said in a written statement. "I'm satisfied with what we protected and achieved."
The previous contract expired in February.