DULUTH — Nurses at St. Luke’s will walk off the job Oct. 3 if a contract deal is not reached before then.
Nurses last week voted to authorize a strike and on Monday filed the 10-day notice required to set one in motion.
The Minnesota Nurses Association said they will be meeting with the health system on Friday in search of a tentative agreement.
St. Luke’s is Duluth’s second-largest employer. The union represents about 650 nurses there.
“Nobody wants to go on strike, but we already have a staffing crisis at St. Luke’s,” nurse and negotiating team member Pete Boyechko said in a news release. “We’ve made it very clear. St. Luke’s needs to offer competitive wages and benefits to recruit and retain enough nurses for safe patient care.”
St. Luke’s management said its offer is “abundantly fair” and includes wage increases, tuition reimbursement, extra shift bonuses and other benefits.
“These increases match the recent Essentia contract and metro-area contract wage increases,” St. Luke’s CEO Kevin Nokels said in a statement following Thursday’s strike vote.
He warned that a strike will hurt the health system in what has already been “the most challenging financial year St. Luke’s has faced in a number of years.”
“The costs associated with preparing for a strike, even the mere receipt of the intent to strike notice, will cause St. Luke’s to incur substantial, non-recoverable costs, at the expense of programs that are important in providing care to our patients,” he said.
The union has set a deadline of 7 a.m. Oct. 3 to reach a deal or nurses will begin an unfair labor practices strike and picket the hospital.
In addition to a breakdown in contract talks that started May 15, the Minnesota Nurses Association alleges “the hospital has been removing union literature from the workplace, preventing members from attending union meetings, prohibiting discussions about their contract from the nurse’s station area, and intimidating nurses who were discussing their contract.”
Nurses at Essentia Health approved their contract last week after an informational picket sparked a tentative agreement in August.