State nurses’ contract approved

25 Aug State team

MNA members employed by the State of Minnesota have a new contract.

The Legislature’s Subcommittee on Employee Relations approved the agreement on August 21.

State team
Negotiating team members (front row, left to right): Karen Leathert, Tammy Hughes, Imo Kalla. Back row, left to right: Brent Griffith, Teresa Koenen, Ann Mehltretter

“This is a fair contract that recognizes the top quality of care that nurses provide for patients throughout the state – including mental health, corrections, Department of Health,  and veterans’ facilities,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Tammy Hughes.

“Thanks to Senators James Metzen and Chris Eaton, along with Representative Leon  Lillie, who spoke in support of the contract and the importance of state-employed nurses during subcommittee discussions before the vote,” said MNA Bargaining Agent Lonna-Jean Schmidt Nelson.

The new contract calls for 6.0 percent wage increases over the two-year contract for the 760 registered nurses, most of whom work in Human Services, Corrections, Health, and Veterans’  Homes.


New contracts improve staffing, wages, benefits

25 Aug International Falls negotiating team

From the far north to the far southwest of Minnesota, MNA nurses are winning new contracts that improve staffing, wages, and benefits. Nurses reached out and received community support in their communities to show employers that citizens support nurses.

Nurses at Rainy Lake Medical Center in International Falls, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming,  Sanford Worthington Medical Center, and Fairview Range Regional Health Services in Hibbing have all voted to ratify new contracts in the last month.

International Falls. It took nearly a year of standing strong for a fair contract that protects safe patient care, but Rainy Lake Medical Center nurses approved a tentative agreement and have a new contract this month.

negotiators after ratify

“The community’s support was key for reaching a fair contract and was greatly appreciated,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Wendy Sutch. “The signs posted in businesses, homes, and car windows throughout the community show the public understands the important role that nurses play in patient care and safety.”

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract.

Fairview Lakes. Nurses at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in  Wyoming, MN, were less than a week away from informational picketing when they reached a tentative agreement with management.

tina thompson Dianne Faith

“We achieved a good contract because members stood together,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sue Kreitz.

“Signs in local businesses, stickers, a giant ‘sympathy card’ for management, a video showing the unequal treatment of clinic nurses, and an imminent informational picket sent a clear message we were standing up for a fair contract that benefits staff, patients, and our community,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sandie Anderson.

The new contract makes progress toward addressing scheduling concerns, provides for required reviews of staffing levels and guidelines, and maintains hard-fought-for benefits, all of which will enable the hospital and clinic to attract and retain nurses.

Sanford Worthington. Community support was essential in securing a new three-year contract in Worthington.

“Worthington area residents showed they value nurses and the important role we play in the community by displaying ‘We Support Our Nurses’ signs in their yards and businesses, and voicing support and appreciation wherever they could,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Nancy Ihrke.

theanne and brittany schitl

“We stood up for a fair contract that attracts and retains quality nurses,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Monica McCoy.

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract and members retained all benefits.

Hibbing. Fairview Range nurses won 4.5 percent raises over the three-year contract in the wage-only negotiations.

“Members agreed to discuss wages in these negotiations so we could work for the next three years on improving safe staffing,” said Negotiating Team member Jon  Wesley.

Help elect candidates who support nurses

22 Aug leadership compass

leadership compass

Minnesota’s party primaries are over, and the November 4 general election slate of candidates is set.  It’s now time to make sure that candidates who share nurses’ values are elected.

If we hope to make progress toward staffing legislation that will keep patients safe, nurses need to help make sure voters to go the polls and elect candidates who will advocate for nursing, our patients, and our communities.

Nurses are the most trusted profession in the United States and the best messenger to let voters know about the candidates who will be on the side of working families.

You can join other nurses and make phone calls, talk to your neighbors and friends, and go to candidate events.

There are opportunities in every part of the state to help elect candidates who will stand with nurses.

Saturday, August 23, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hopkins

Rep. Yvonne Selcer (48A) canvassing
Coordinated DFL office, 915 Main St., Hopkins


Tuesday, August 26, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Thursday, September 4,  4:30-8:30 p.m.
2014 Labor Day of Action
Door knocking and phone banking for pro-labor candidates at locations around Minnesota.

MNA’s website is updated frequently with new opportunities to volunteer throughout Minnesota.

You can sign up for activities on the Member Portal on MNA’s website.


Appleton Press columnist says ‘nurses have it right’ on Robin Hood tax.

12 Aug




Standing up for safe patient care just got easier

8 Aug css form

css form

It’s now much easier for Minnesota nurses to stand up for safe patient care.

Now when nurses submit submit Concern for Safe Staffing forms that document unsafe conditions in their facilities, they can also contact their legislators to let them know that unsafe staffing situations are occurring in their districts.

State senators and representatives have asked for more documentation to help them establish a safe patient standard in Minnesota hospitals.

In the past, CFSS forms have had to be culled, collected, and printed out to submit to legislative committees or for lawmaker requests.  MNA recently modified the form to make it easier for nurses to tell their legislators real-time stories about unsafe staffing in their hospitals.

The revised form adds one simple step. After nurses complete a Concern for Safe Staffing form, they will receive a confirmation message with a link to a short pre-written email to their legislators to which they can add their own comments. The MNA website will automatically look up the nurses’ legislators and deliver the messages to them.

Some legislators have questioned whether staffing is a problem in Minnesota hospitals. When nurses show the forms to state legislators as examples of the unsafe conditions in hospitals in their districts, lawmakers are always surprised and concerned to learn hospitals put patients at risk on a regular basis.

The new option to contact legislators will increase the impact of CFSS forms by alerting lawmakers to the frequency and severity of these unsafe situations, and will further our campaign to pass a Safe Patient Standard law.

MNA members are encouraged to fill out CFSS forms any time they see unsafe staffing, and if you live in Minnesota, send the follow-up message to your legislators.

Primary Election August 12-MNA Supports Rebecca Otto for Auditor

6 Aug

Minnesota’s primary election is Tuesday, August 12. You have a chance to return one of the most accomplished state auditors in the country to her post.

Rebecca Otto

MNA endorses Rebecca Otto for State Auditor

MNA has endorsed Rebecca Otto for State Auditor. Otto has carefully served as a watchdog for local governments, including her role in reviewing almost 700 public pension plans, and promoting legal compliance and accountability.

Rebecca Otto (DFL) is one of the most highly-respected state auditors in the United States. In 2014 she was named one of the Most Influential Professionals in Government Auditing by the American Center for Government Auditing (ACGA). She has also received the National Auditors Association Excellence in Accountability Award for Best Practices Review: Reducing Energy Costs in Local Government. In 2011 she received the League of Minnesota Cities President’s Award.

Rebecca Otto has done an outstanding job for the citizens of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Nurses Association is proud to support her.

Find your polling place.

Not registered? You can register at the polls!


Sign up for the Minnesota State Fair!

5 Aug fair5

Join MNA nurses by speaking up for your profession and a minimum standard of care at the 2014 Minnesota State Fair.  Go to to sign up.  Volunteer shifts are filling up fast!

Grand Itasca negotiations ‘respectful’

1 Aug

Negotiations between nurses and Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital in Grand Rapids were marked by ‘mutual respect’ this spring, leading to a new contract that benefits nurses and patients.

“We had very respectful bargaining,” said Grand Itasca Bargaining Unit Chair Pam Nordstrom. “Negotiations moved more smoothly and we won some major improvements for members.”

“We always tried to keep patients at the forefront during negotiations,” said bargaining committee member Carol Forneris. “We wanted to ensure quality staff, because that goes hand in hand with good patient care. “

Members ratified the new contract on June 16. It includes:

  • 6.5 percent raises for hospital RNs over three years;
  • 8 percent raises for clinic RNs over three years;
  • Staffing language that supports acuity and nursing intensity. MNA and Grand Itasca will develop staffing plans that take patient care needs/acuity, unit census, and skill level of professional nursing staff into account. Grand Itasca will consider input from the charge nurses or primary care nurses when making staffing decisions.
  • Language that preserves the union if the hospital’s ownership changes.

Sandstone nurses vote for their first contract

22 Jul Sandstone Sign

Sandstone Sign

Essentia Health-Sandstone nurses have a new contract – their first.

Members approved a new four-year contract earlier this month, following two years of organizing and negotiating.

Sandstone nurses organized right after Essentia bought the hospital in 2012.

“We are very excited to have a contract with language that ensures safe staffing, addresses on-call shifts, and gives nurses a stronger voice in our workplace,” said bargaining unit MNA Co-Chair Erin Olson, RN. “The feedback from fellow nurses has been very positive.”

The four-year contract includes:

  • Wage increases of 11 percent over the four years;
  • Orientation and training language modeled on metro nurses’ contracts;
  • On-call pay raise from $4 per hour to the minimum wage;
  • Reimbursement raise from $400 to $700 for continuing education;
  • 401(k) contributions from 3 percent to 7 percent.

“We are most happy to have a voice and solidarity in our dealings with management from now on,” said Olson.


Nurses: Water Shut-off Measure in Detroit Endangers Public Health

18 Jul Mark Ruffalo NNU

National Nurses United


Mark Ruffalo NNU

Actor/activist Mark Ruffalo poses with NNU’s Jean Ross and Bonnie Castillo

Media Advisory, Photo Opportunity                                   July 18, 2014
Contact: Liz Jacobs, RN, 510-435-7674, Bill Gallagher, 818-355-8691, or Sarah Cecile, 510-541-9570

Big March and Rally Today in Detroit to Protest Water Shutoffs by City:  ‘Turn On the Water, Tax Wall Street’

Responding to the controversial decision of Detroit and Michigan officials to shut off water for tens of thousands of city residents, a broad coalition of national, international, and Detroit area organizations will hold a major protest march and rally today in Detroit.

Marchers will voice support for the many in Detroit who have been calling for a declaration of a health care emergency in the city and call for an immediate moratorium on the water shutoffs and restoration of water service to those who have had their water cut off.

Lack of access to clean water is a major health threat that can lead to the growth and spread of infectious diseases and even pandemics, says National Nurses United, the largest U.S. organization of nurses and the lead sponsor of the march and rally.

Activists also warn that the widespread water shutoffs are a national test case, promoted by the banks and other financial interests who have been pushing privatization of public resources in economically embattled Detroit. If successful in Detroit, the scene could be repeated in scores of other communities where residents continue to struggle financially.

The march begins at 1 p.m. at Cobo Center in Detroit. The rally, outside Hart Plaza, will be live streamed at

Support for the action has been rapidly building with major endorsements and participation from among others the International Union United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW AFL-CIO), Netroots Nation which is holding its convention in Detroit this week, Food and Water Watch, Michigan Sierra Club, Utility Workers Union of America, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, and scores of Detroit area community, labor and faith groups.

Internationally known actor Mark Ruffalo and musician/songwriter Tom Morello also voiced support for the action, urging support, on twitter.


Listen to the NNU Radio ad here:



The event will also call for a tax on Wall Street speculation which could raise hundreds of billions of dollars for communities like Detroit which have been pummeled by recession, unemployment, and other pain directly linked to the Wall Street meltdown and plunder of major urban areas. The Robin Hood tax on Wall Street trading, is embodied in HR 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison, to rebuild Detroit and the rest of America.

Rally supporters charge that Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager officials are enforcing the water shutoffs to promote the privatization of the public water supply, the latest gift, they say, to Wall Street financial interests who have bankrupted the city.

Notably Snyder’s handpicked emergency manager Kevyn Orr in one of his first acts hired his former employer, the Jones Day law firm to supervise the city’s bankruptcy even though that same firm represents banks that hold the city’s debt. Further, city activists note that though commercial enterprises owe nearly half of the debt to the water department, it is low and moderate-income residents who have been the main target of water shutoffs.

‘Dangerous public health crisis’

“Cutting off water to community residents is a disgraceful attack on the basic human right of access to safe, clean water,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN. “Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health. Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shutoff now.”

“The water crisis is just the tip of the spear of what is a much greater systemic problem in America,” said Monica Lewis-Patrick, citywide outreach coordinator of We the People of Detroit and member of the People’s Water Coalition. “People need housing, good jobs, equal access to quality education and affordable health care and of course what we are now dealing with here, access to clean affordable water which is a basic human right. It is my hope that everyone who is coming to Detroit to take part in the protests also takes away the story of resilience and perseverance of the people of Detroit. I’ve been going to door to door to assist people and what I’ve witnessed is that in the midst of all these trials folks are together forging the beloved community.”

“It appears the black out on this water crisis is broken and the consciousness of the world has finally been piqued. People around the world are beginning to focus on this domestic terrorism and we welcome every eye!” said Maureen Taylor, state chairperson of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

“The situation in Detroit is a major crisis, said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “When 45 percent of water customers struggle to pay their water bills, it is clear that this is not just a problem with delinquent payment–it’s indicative of broader, systemic issues resulting from decades of policies that put profits before people. These shutoffs are a thinly veiled precursor to privatizing Detroit’s water, which will only make matters worse. We urge Detroit’s leadership to turn the taps back on and keep water there in public hands so that all residents can have affordable access to this vital resource.”

“This dangerous public health crisis is further proof that we don’t have a bankrupt city – we have a bankrupt system,” said John Armelagos, RN, president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “It’s disgraceful to have children in the wealthiest nation on Earth on the edge of living in third-world conditions. When people don’t have access to water to bathe and brush their teeth with, they and their families, and the whole community, are at risk for disease. Water is a human right and (Emergency Manager) Kevyn Orr should put human needs above any agenda set by corporations that only want to further exploit Detroit.”

“We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the organizers working hard to stop these water shutoffs,” said Raven Brooks, Executive Director of Netroots Nation. “It’s vitally important for us to use our platform to amplify their message.”

Other endorsers of action include: People’s Water Board, Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, Michigan Nurses Association, We the People of Detroit, Moratorium Now!, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, United Students Against Sweatshops, AFSCME Council 25, CWA Local 400, National Action Network-Michigan, UAW Locals 600 and 4911, Detroit Eviction Defense, Detroiters Resisting Emergency, National People’s Action, Health GAP (Global Action Project), East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Color of Change, Franciscan Action Network, Detroit Water Brigade, Detroit Public Schools Education Task Force, Michigan Election Reform Alliance, Student Global AIDS Campaign, New York State Nurses Association, Coalition of Labor Union Women, and Detroit Active and Retired Employees.



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