About 1,800 unionized workers at HealthPartners are set to take a strike vote this week, union officials said Monday, after negotiations on a new contract broke down over the weekend.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said management at the Bloomington-based health insurance and health care provider is calling for "massive concessions" to worker health care benefits, according to a statement released Monday. Union members work at more than 30 locations in more than 80 jobs including nurses, dental assistants and nurse practitioners.
"The SEIU bargaining team are calling for a vote to authorize a seven-day Unfair Labor Practices strike," the statement said. "The vote will be held Thursday starting at 6 a.m. across multiple locations in the Twin Cities, with results of the vote set to be announced Friday."
In a statement, HealthPartners said it expects to return to the bargaining table in the coming days, adding that "health plan benefits are the core issue."
"Our SEIU-represented colleagues have market-leading benefits, and that will continue even with our proposal," HealthPartners said. "We're proposing a set of modifications that would support better health and encourage our colleagues to get care in high-quality, more affordable settings. We feel that these are fair and reasonable modifications, especially given the financial headwinds facing the health care industry, including our organization."
In December, HealthPartners announced it would shut down a home-care service based in St. Paul and eliminate about 70 jobs due to financial challenges including an expected cut in federal reimbursements next year. The move was criticized by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which represented many of the home care workers.
In November, HealthPartners said it would eliminate 300 jobs while closing 30 retail pharmacies and its mail-order pharmacy due to competition from large pharmacy operators. Also last month, the health system said it would eliminate about 75 jobs in a number of areas including information services technology due to diminished revenue from Medicare health plans.
HealthPartners is one of the state's largest nonprofit groups with about $7 billion in revenue in 2018.
Beyond selling health plans, the nonprofit operates Regions Hospital in St. Paul and Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.
The vote this week would only authorize a strike, the union said, adding that a 10-day notice would be needed before a strike could happen.
The current contract expired Feb. 1.
Phillip Cryan, an executive vice president at SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, said in a statement: "There is no reason a $7 billion organization … should be taking one dime out of the pockets of its front-line caregivers to pad the corporate bottom line."