The Mayo Clinic Health System and its union workers in Albert Lea have reached a new labor agreement after a protracted and contentious labor battle.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which represents nearly 80 employees at the hospital, said the agreement provides for raises over the next three years that will range between 7.25 and 10 percent. Union members approved the new contract on Monday.
The vote removes the possibility of a second strike that workers had authorized in late April. In December, workers staged a one-day strike that led to a weeklong lockout of most workers by the hospital, which said it hired replacement workers on a seven-day contract.
Both parties filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, which had scheduled a hearing on the lockout for July. As part of the agreement, both sides said they would withdraw their unfair labor practice complaints.
“Going on strike and being locked out showed we firmly believed in our fight for good jobs and good health care here in Albert Lea,” said Sheri Wichmann, who has worked in sterile processing at the hospital for 18 years. “While you always wish you had been able to win everything you set out for at the start, we are proud we were able to move Mayo on important issues facing our families and community.”
The workers, including nursing assistants, housekeepers, maintenance workers and others, had been without a contract for nearly two years.
“We are pleased our employees ratified these contracts, which will allow us all to focus on our most important work — offering the best quality of care for our patients,” said Dr. Mark Ciota, chief executive of the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin.
SEIU members agreed to move to standard benefit plans on the same terms as other Mayo Clinic Health System employees. The contract also included protections for workers who may have to move to Mayo’s Austin hospital as part of a controversial restructuring that has been opposed by many Albert Lea residents.
Under that plan, intensive care, inpatient surgeries and baby deliveries will be performed only at the Austin hospital. The Albert Lea hospital will have an emergency room, outpatient services and inpatient behavioral health care.