Unionized HealthPartners Workers OK Strike
About 1,800 unionized HealthPartners workers are slated to strike later this month if they’re unable to reach an agreement with the health care system.
On Thursday, 95 percent of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota workers voted to authorize a seven-day strike, which would begin Feb. 19. The union filed a 10-day strike notice on Friday morning, said Kate Lynch, VP of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
“It feels like it’s profits over patients and employees,” Lynch said outside HealthPartners’ Neuroscience Center in St. Paul. She added that workers “are willing to go back to the table at any time.”
SEIU and HealthPartners last met to negotiate on Jan. 31. The marathon session spilled into early morning the following day. HealthPartners leaders have proposed increases to workers’ health insurance premiums and co-pays. SEIU â — which represents nurses, dental hygienists, physician assistants, and other frontline workers at more than 30 HealthPartners locations â — has rejected the health system’s proposal.
The union’s contract with HealthPartners expired Feb. 1.
Health insurance premiums and copays have remained the same for SEIU members for more than a decade, union officials said.
For their part, HealthPartners leaders maintain that their proposal is “fair and reasonable.” In a statement, they said the strike vote is “disappointing.”
“We remain committed to reaching an agreement on a new contract that is fair to all,” HealthPartners officials said in a statement.
A federal mediator will need to call both parties back to the table, according to HealthPartners.
The health system didn’t say whether it had a contingency plan in place if the strike goes through.
“We can’t really tell you what kind of care you’re going to get when we’re not there,” Lynch said when asked how the union would address patients’ concerns about the strike.