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More Than 1,800 Unionized HealthPartners Employees In Minnesota Prepare To Strike Over - ‘Get This’ - ‘Their Own’ Health Care

With 95% Support, Workers Authorize Seven-Day ULP Strike That Would Begin On February 19th

Published Sunday, February 9, 2020
by Labor News Services & Staff
More Than 1,800 Unionized HealthPartners Employees In Minnesota Prepare To Strike Over - ‘Get This’ - ‘Their Own’ Health Care

(ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA) - More than 1,800 Nurses and other Medical Care Workers at HealthPartners have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a seven-day Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) Strike before the end of the month after they failed to reach a new contract agreement.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota represents 1,800 Members at HealthPartners, including Nurses, Dental and Nursing Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Midwives at more than 30 locations. 

The Union Members filed a 10-day Strike Notice on Friday (February 7th), after voting to authorize the Strike the day before.  If no agreement is reached in that 10-day span, Workers - who say they are standing firm against a company effort to cut Employee Health Benefits, would begin their seven-day Strike on Wednesday, February 19th.

Kate Lynch, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at HealthPartners and a Member of the Union Bargaining Team, said: "I am ‘so happy to stand with my fellow Union Members, who overwhelmingly voted to authorize the Strike in our fight for what we need for ourselves and our families, and what is best for our patients.’  But as a thirty-one-year Employee and nine-time member of our bargaining team, ‘after years of good relationships, these negotiations felt incredibly disrespectful.’"

"I have ‘always been so proud to work at HealthPartners,’" said Clara Boykin, a 30-year HealthPartners Employee and another member of the SEIU Bargaining Team. "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.’"

HealthPartners, which has 26,000 employees and more than $7 billion in revenue, has earned a reputation for offering some of the most generous health benefits of any company in Minnesota.

Their current plan for their SEIU-represented Employees is unheard of at other large organizations: No premiums; No deductibles; and small co-pays for medical visits and prescription drugs.

The plan the Bloomington-based non-profit is proposing continues no monthly premiums and low co-pays for single people, but it increases costs for married people - including a $100 monthly fee for a spouse.

HealthPartners is also proposing limiting the number of in-network providers on its basic plan to just four locations.

Angela Knutson, a Nurse at HealthPartners’ Specialty Center in St. Paul and a Union Leader, says she doesn’t want to make any concessions on her health care - and she said the 150 Workers she talks to as a Union Leader feel just as strongly

“I bet (99%) of people will say ‘if you touch our benefits, we will Strike,’” Knutson said.

HealthPartners, one of the state’s largest health providers with 90-plus clinics and hospitals, declined to comment on its health insurance proposals for its SEIU-represented Employees - as well as its insurance plans for its executives and other employees.

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