Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith announced Sunday they have asked the negotiators for Allina Health and the Minnesota Nurses Association to meet at the Governor’s residence at 11 a.m. Monday, “to reach an agreement that will allow the health care system and nurses to resume the quality of health care Minnesotans need and deserve.”

The Dayton-Smith administration and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service have been meeting separately with both sides over the past five weeks, the administration announced. “Now, both sides are asked to continue meeting at the residence until their remaining differences are resolved in a way that puts patient care first, and is agreeable to both sides.”

Nurses began an open-ended, unfair labor practice strike on Labor Day. The strike involves some 5,000 registered nurses at Abbott and the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, Unity Hospital in Fridley, Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and United Hospital in St. Paul.

Last week, nurses kept up pressure on members of the Allina Health Board, whom they say are not acting in the best interests of patients. Strikers filled the street outside Securian Center, the high-rise building in downtown St. Paul that houses Allina Health board member David Kuplic’s offices.

Kuplic, a senior vice president at Securian, declined to meet with a delegation of nurses who entered the building.

Securian is one of a handful of investment firms and corporations, including General Mills and Buffalo Wild Wings, whose executives dominate Allina Health’s not-for-profit board.

“Why do we have all these financial (executives) on a non-profit board of directors?” asked Julie Anderson, registered nurse at Mercy Hospital. “What do they know about health care?”

Strikers say Allina’s hard-line approach to contract negotiations is costing the not-for-profit health provider tens of millions of dollars each week – far exceeding the amount of concessions Allina is seeking from the nurses.

Union Advocate editor Michael Moore contributed the report on the Securian rally for this article.

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