Hospital Support Staff Vote to Ratify New Contract
Support staff at eight local hospitals “overwhelmingly” voted in favor of ratifying a new, three-year contract with the hospitals, the union representing them said Wednesday.
The Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota (SEIU) did not disclose the precise vote tallies.
The announcement comes a week after the workers and hospitals reached a tentative contract deal—and the tentative deal was struck just a day after employees authorized a two- to five-day strike. Early last week, 91 percent of the 3,500 union members voted to strike. The tentative agreement was reached after a day of negotiations that took place last Wednesday.
“Many of the contract changes the hospitals wanted posed significant cuts to the extent that earning family-sustaining incomes were put at-risk for most of these low-wage workers,” Tee McClenty, SEIU’s chief contract negotiator, said in a statement. She added that although the contract dispute has been resolved, “it’s resolved only until next time.”
The workers affected by the contract agreement include nursing assistants, emergency room technicians, maintenance and foodservice personnel, clerks, and warehouse and environmental services staff.
SEIU said in its announcement that the support staff it represents are increasingly facing workplace environments at their non-profit hospitals “that are more akin to corporate climates where profits are put ahead of everything else.”
The hospitals that employ the support staff represented by SEIU are Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis, Children’s Hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, HealthEast Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, HealthEast St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, and Park Nicollet/Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
The hospitals issued a brief statement about the contract deal: “We are pleased that a contract has been approved that meets the needs of SEIU members and demonstrates sound financial stewardship for patients, families, and the communities we serve.”
The previous contract expired in late February but was extended several times after that. SEIU and the hospitals had been negotiating since January. The union has said that wages and benefits were the main issues that prompted the contract disagreement with the hospitals.