SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at HealthPartners voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a 7-day Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike for 1,800 members by an overwhelming vote of 95% to 5%. This follows months of planning and organizing. The energy and movement for this vote had been a long time coming.
The vote was held Thursday for 15 hours at five locations across the Twin Cities. The contract between HealthPartners and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota expired on January 31st.
Union members announced that a 10-day strike notice would be filed Friday and that if no agreement is reached, workers would begin their 7-day ULP strike on the morning of Wednesday, February 19th.
30-year HealthPartners employee and bargaining team member, Clara Boykin shared why she voted “Yes” to authorize a strike
“I have always been so proud to work at HealthPartners. The health insurance we have won over the years has been so important to me and has allowed all of us to provide award-winning care. But these proposed rollbacks would change that. I voted yes to strike not for myself but for the next generation of SEIU members who deserve the quality healthcare we’ve won over the years to take care of their families”
The 1,800 workers in the bargaining unit represent nearly all caregivers other than doctors, including RNs, dental hygienists, LPNs, CMAs, midwives, lab techs, physicians assistants, and over 80 different jobs in total. They work at 30 HealthPartners clinics across the Twin Cities
According to a statement from the union
“HealthPartners executives have proposed huge cuts and cost-shifting to the health benefits caregivers have won over the years. The cost-shifting measures come after the Star Tribune reported that HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh received over $2 million in pay last year, while the company earned a record-breaking $7 billion in revenue.”
Kate Lynch, an LPN for 31 years at HealthPartners who is an elected Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and part of the bargaining team, announced the results outside of the HealthPartners Neuroscience clinic, backed by the bargaining team and community supporters, many holding signs saying “We’ve Earned Our Healthcare”.
Lynch stated that, “after years of good relationships these negotiations felt incredibly disrespectful.”
“Over our four months of bargaining, HealthPartners has insisted on harmful cost-shifting and cuts to our benefits, while offering a measly wage increase that doesn’t keep up with inflation while HealthPartners made $7 billion in revenue last year and our CEO made over $2 million in compensation,” Lynch said.
Joining the group was a local pastor and workers from other unions, including Kelsie Anderson, the Vice President of OPEIU Local 12 and 3-year HealthPartners employee. Anderson spoke about how the nearly 1,200 OPEIU members at HealthPartners are allowed and will be encouraged to honor any picket lines, a right they have won in their own union contract.
“We at OPEIU Local 12 love our caregivers and colleagues at HealthPartners. We are encouraging our members to honor the picket line and not cross.”
The potential action from OPEIU Local 12 members will bring the total number of workers not showing up for work between February 19-25 at HealthPartners could reach over 3,000.