Mental health workers at Allina and M Health Fairview go on three-day strike – Twin Cities

More than 400 mental health workers at M Health Fairview and Allina Health facilities plan to strike for three days next week to secure their first employment contract.

It will be the second walkout for members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa. Mental health workers staged a one-day strike in May during Mental Health Awareness Month.

“It’s frustrating that it’s going to happen again. Minnesota is facing a major mental health crisis that is affecting so many families,” said Dana Disbrow, psychiatric associate at M Health Fairview. “We fight for secure staffing and a contract that will help us improve our industry, but we keep getting caught in employer impasses.”

Workers voted to unionize in late 2021 and 98 percent of the group voted to support the three-day strike.

In a statement, Allina Health officials noted that it is not uncommon for it to take a year or more to reach an agreement on initial contracts. Officials said they offered competitive wages and safety precautions that other workers agreed to.

“We have negotiated in good faith with the union 18 times since they decided to organize,” Allina said in a statement. “Strikes benefit nobody. However, we will stand ready to continue attending to our community if no agreement is reached.”

A hearing date has been set ahead of the strike, which is due to start on Monday 3 October.

“We know our employees are facing an unprecedented demand for mental health care,” M Health Fairview officials said in a statement. “We will continue to negotiate in good faith with our colleagues to enter into a contract that all parties believe is equal and fair.”

The strike at SEIU Healthcare follows a three-day strike that began Sept. 12 by 15,000 nurses from the Minnesota Nurses Association. Nurses said their walkout was the largest private sector nurses’ strike in history.

Nurses and psychiatrists are pushing for similar improvements in their working conditions, including more staff. Nurses at 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports continue to negotiate with management but have not reached an agreement.

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