Tag Archives: Duluth Strike

St. Luke’s Info: Tentative Agreement Reached

2 Sep

St. Luke’s Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement in Duluth

1 Sep

It is clear that St. Luke’s hospital is the leader in Duluth and RNs advocating for safe patient care! Early this morning the management of St. Luke’s offered an agreement we can recommend with enthusiasm to ratify. This came about in no small part thanks to our amazing and overwhelming show of unity back on August 18th.

The highlights of this agreement include:

  • Joint Development and implementation of staffing plans which includes mediation for impasse resolution.
  • We also were able to reach agreement on temporarily closing the unit to admissions when we are unable to safely provide care for the next admission.
  • We have an agreement on how the code of conduct will work.
  • Kentucky River protections continue through the course of this contract as well.

Additional highlights of the tentative agreement will be made available as soon as we can get them out. After starting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, we negotiated through the night until 6 a.m. this morning to reach this tentative agreement.

The entire contract offer from St. Luke’s will be made available for nurses to review before our vote, pursuant to MNA bylaws.  As in any contract, there are economic concerns, and we were able to reach improvements for our health insurance contribution from St. Luke’s.

Now that we have been able to win concrete improvements in contract language for our staffing, we have to make sure management continues to work with us to provide the best possible patient care.  Our unity and action has been able to get us this far. We must remain united to enforce our new contract language and commitment from management.

We plan to vote to ratify our tentative agreement this Wednesday, September 8th and have a new contract. We are hoping to have our vote at the United Baptist Church at 830 E. First Street from 6:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. We will be available to answer any questions you may have that day. Also we will be getting a summary of the tentative agreement up as soon as possible. We will have the full tentative agreement available before the vote as well.

After many long negotiation sessions we feel that we were able to make concrete gains in this contract, as a negotiating committee we feel confident in recommending this contract to you for ratification.

St. Luke’s Hospital Bargaining Team

Cindy Prout, Renee Ebel, Nancy Carlson, Pam Hyopponen, Kate Donovan, Mary “Meech” Koski

URGENT: SMDC Bargaining Video Update – Strike Imminent

25 Aug

Please visit the Duluth Bargaining Page on the MNA Web Site for all the background and details on Duluth negotiations.

JCAHO and SMDC: See no (unsafe staffing) evil?

25 Aug

So the Joint Commission (JCAHO) just happens to be at SMDC here in Duluth this week. MNA had sent them data on the unsafe staffing situations at SMDC and asked for a meeting when JCAHO was in town. They sent MNA a form response and never responded to the request for a meeting.

Meanwhile, SMDC officials are taking JCAHO inspectors to hospital units that have comparatively good staffing.

Is this something the media should know about? Why won’t JCAHO meet with the nurses?

For those that don’t know, JCAHO is the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and is essentially bought and paid for by U.S. hospitals.

Its Wikipedia entry describes the role of JCAHO thusly: “The joint commission is a club of hospitals. The “club” allows an organization to keep the joint commission gold seal despite sentinal events and failures in any particular healthcare organization. There is no public transparency regarding complaints and failures within a joint commission hospital, thus patients have no access to complaint records or even general historical data through the joint commission.

A Nurse’s View: Safe Staffing at the Heart of RNs’ Needs

24 Aug

Jennifer Serafin, RN

St. Luke’s RN Jennifer Serafin recently wrote a wonderful Op/Ed that was published in the Duluth News Tribune that encapsulates everything Duluth RNs are fighting for. Please read the entire Op/Ed below:

“There have been a lot of opinions recently regarding “safe staffing” and what, exactly, the Minnesota Nurses Association is fighting for. Some people believe nurses are fighting solely for more money under a false premise of advocating for safe-staffing ratios.

In light of current events, I thought I would share a staff nurse’s perspective.

I am not sure people realize the huge responsibility nurses have on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps some feel physicians do all the work and have all the knowledge and that we nurses are just puppets who follow their orders. Physicians do carry the weight of responsibility, but we nurses are the ones required to ensure their orders are written accurately and carried out as ordered. And we’re the ones responsible for questioning orders when they don’t seem appropriate. It is the nurse who informs the physician when there is a change in a patient’s condition — after documenting that change in a timely manner. We are legally responsible for the care we provide to the patient, just as a physician is.

When staffing is unsafe, oftentimes it is our charting that suffers. We haphazardly chart on scraps of paper and sometimes on body parts, hoping we can put it all together at the end of the shift, remembering that if it wasn’t charted, it wasn’t done.

Just because we are short of people doesn’t mean we stop caring for our patients; it means we are prevented from providing the level of care we would like.

Have you ever had to choose who needs pain medication more? Or which patient was sicker and needed you first?

When staffing levels are unsafe, nurses don’t have the luxury of bathroom breaks or lunches. Why? Because we refuse to allow our patients to suffer. We aren’t martyrs; we don’t do our job for fame or glory; oftentimes it is thankless. We do it for our patients.

We have a huge responsibility on our hands — people’s lives — and we take that very seriously.

I don’t know that at the end of an average person’s day they’ve ever wondered how a Ms. Jones will do or prayed that she makes it through the night. I know there have been shifts when I have left work, wondering if I had done enough or if I could have done more. I have woken up at 2 a.m. to call and ensure proper labs were drawn. I have stayed late to help other nurses catch up, and I have worked overtime to prevent short staffing.

The Minnesota Nurses Association and nurses across the country are fighting for safe nurse-to-patient ratios. Unfortunately, health care is a business and, like any business, is either in the black or the red. Hospitals in the red can’t function for long.

The dilemma is attempting to assign staff without knowing what the day or night will bring. Hospitals can’t staff up for patients who aren’t there and may not come; they can’t afford to. And nurses shouldn’t have to feel the care they are providing is unsafe, because our patients depend on us.

The Minnesota Nurses Association did its best to advocate for nurses in the Twin Cities and is currently attempting to do so in the Twin Ports. I personally find it offensive that a 37-cent raise, to be given next year, would lead people to believe our current struggle is about money. It’s not about money.

How many people worry about losing their job or their career if they make a mistake, when that mistake could kill or harm someone? Nurses do every day. That’s why we are fighting for safe staffing.”

Breaking News: Federal Mediators Call Duluth RNs, Hospitals Back to Bargaining Table

20 Aug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, MNA, 651-414-2863 or e-mail

DULUTH, Minn. (August 20, 2010) – Federal mediators have called for Duluth nurses and business executives at two area hospitals – SMDC Medical Center and St. Luke’s – to come back to the bargaining table next week.

A tentative meeting between SMDC nurses and hospital administrators has been set for August 25, while a similarly tentative meeting between St. Luke’s nurses and hospital administrators has been penciled in for August 31. Federal mediators have been trying to bridge the gap in recent weeks during contract talks between 1,350 Duluth RNs and the two hospital systems, which began back in early May.

On August 18, nurses at SMDC and St. Luke’s voted overwhelmingly to reject their respective contract offers and instead authorize a one-day strike. More than 90 percent of SMDC nurses and 86 percent of St. Luke’s RNs voted in favor of a strike.

Two key patient safety issues – the option for a nurse to refuse an unsafe patient assignment and the ability of a nurse to temporarily close his or her unit to new admissions during an unsafe staffing situation – are the key sticking points in contract talks at both facilities. In the Twin Cities, nurses have had language in their contracts since the late 1990s that gives RNs the ability to do both of these things.

“If it’s good enough for nurses and patients in the Cities, why isn’t it good enough for nurses and patients in the Northland?” SMDC RN Steve Strand asked. “We’re not looking for anything new or unusual here. We’re simply looking to add the same type of patient safety language that other nurses in our state have.”

National labor laws require that hospitals be given at least a 10-day notice before any strike can take place. Duluth nurses can issue their strike notice to SMDC and St. Luke’s at any time, but their intent remains to avoid a strike and reach a settlement instead, according to nurse leaders.

“Nobody wins in a strike,” Strand said. “Our goal remains to get our employers back to the table and work out a contract that ensures safe patient care, which is the goal of all nurses everywhere and what every patient deserves.”

August 18 Vote Coverage

19 Aug

Duluth RNs: Pre-vote coverage (August 17)

19 Aug

It’s Official: Duluth RNs Authorize Strike

18 Aug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, MNA, 651-442-7176 (cell)

DULUTH, Minn. (August 18, 2010) – Hundreds of Duluth Nurses turned out Wednesday and cast a historic vote for patient safety, overwhelmingly authorizing their nurse leaders to call for a one-day strike.

“The turnout and the message our nurses have delivered tonight is overwhelming,” said Steve Strand, an RN at SMDC Medical Center. “Our nurses have shown up, stood up and spoke up in a powerful way regarding patient safety. It’s the one issue that unites every nurse in the Northland. Our patients are the whole reason we became nurses in the first place. If we don’t stand up and advocate for them now, when things have become so unsafe inside our hospitals, who will?”

After months of negotiations, more than 1,300 nurses at SMDC and St. Luke’s Hospital have been unable to reach a contract agreement at each facility. (The current labor contracts expired on July 1.) WIth no new talks scheduled and each employers’ “best, last offer” on the table, Strand and other nurse leaders on the SMDC and St. Luke’s bargaining teams unanimously recommended Duluth RNs reject those offers and instead authorize a one-day strike. There has never been an RN-related work stoppage in Duluth’s history.

On Wednesday, more than 90 percent of SMDC nurses voted to reject the contract offer and authorize a one-day strike. More than 86 percent of St. Luke’s nurses voted to reject the contract offer and authorize a strike.

“The hospitals left us with no choice,” Strand said. “We can’t handle another three years of one nurse talking care of 8, 9 or even 12 patients at once. Neither can our patients. How many more patients have to sit in their own stool because nobody can answer their call light? How many more patients need to wait and wait and wait for pain medication because there’s no nurse available to administer it? How many more patients have to go to the bathroom in a wastebasket or develop bed sores or pressure ulcers because a nurse can’t make it to their room to help them move around?”

Two key patient safety issues – the option for a nurse to refuse an unsafe patient assignment and the ability of a nurse to temporarily close his or her unit during an unsafe staffing situation – are the key sticking points in contract talks at both facilities, Strand said.

In the Twin Cities, nurses have had language in their contracts since the late 1990s that gives RNs the ability to do both of these things, he said.

“If it’s good enough for roughly 12,000 nurses at 14 hospitals in the Cities, why isn’t it good enough for nurses and patients in the Northland?” he asked. “We’re not looking for anything new or unusual here. We’re simply looking to add the same type of patient safety language that other nurses in our state have.”

National labor laws require that hospitals be given at least a 10-day notice before any strike can take place. Strand said RN members of the SMDC and St. Luke’s bargaining teams will meet this week to evaluate their next steps moving forward, including when to file the strike notice.

“Nobody wins in a strike,” Strand said. “Our goal remains to get our employers back to the table and work out a contract that ensures safe patient care, which is the goal of all nurses everywhere and what every patient deserves.”

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