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Minnesota hospitals drop labor charges against nurses

The charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board were dropped after the Minnesota Nurses Association agreed to its new contracts with hospitals.

Nurses walk picket line.
Nurses picket St. Luke’s before 8 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — When the Minnesota Nurses Association announced its three-day strike at 16 hospitals in September, the health care systems responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Those charges were dropped in December, after the hospitals and nurses came to an agreement on new contracts.

According to a statement from Essentia Health, dropping these charges is standard practice when the two parties have come to an agreement. The Minnesota Nurses Association announced its members had voted to ratify the new contracts Dec. 14, a week after a tentative agreement was reached between hospitals and nurses.

"As part of the contract agreement reached in December, both parties agreed to drop any National Labor Relations Board charges related to bargaining," said Tony Matt, media relations specialist for Essentia Health. "This is a typical part of the negotiation process."

On Sept. 1, Essentia Health, St. Luke's, Children's Minnesota, Fairview Health, North Memorial Health, Methodist, and Allina Health systems each filed individual charges against MNA for not filing the appropriate 30-day notice with the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services. Because the MNA provided the required 10-day notice to hospitals, but not the 30-day notice to the state, the hospitals stated the strike was illegal.

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The Minnesota Nurses Association, which announced plans for 15,000 nurses to strike for three days starting Sept. 12, said Thursday they still plan to hold their strike, despite the charges.

Duluth-based Essentia filed an additional charge against MNA on Sept. 6, stating the MNA failed to include Essentia Health-Duluth in its list of locations given the 10-day strike notice. While the list did include Essentia Health–St. Mary's Medical Center, Miller Dwan nurses were still expected to show up for work during the Sept. 12-15 strike. Minnesota Nurses Association First Vice President Chris Rubesch, of Duluth, responded by saying there was no requirement to list specific building locations for the strike, calling the charge a "desperate move."


The health care system claims the Minnesota Nurses Association failed to include Essentia Health-Duluth in its list of facilities that received a strike notice.

The September nurses' strikes went on as planned, with approximately 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports walking out over the three-day period. An additional strike was announced in December, but it was called off when the nurses and hospitals reached their tentative agreements Dec. 6.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have agreed to the contract agreements reached with Twin Ports and Twin Cities hospitals last week. The contracts will last for three years.

On Dec. 9, the charges filed by the hospitals in September were withdrawn.

St. Luke's and the Minnesota Nurses Association did not provide comments regarding the dropped charges.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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