|Nurses during one-day strike June 10 in St. Paul, Minnesota.|
The nurses are demanding fixed nurse-to-patient staffing ratios they say are necessary to ensure patient safety and proper care.
Nurses are increasingly asked to work faster with more patients to monitor.
Hospital demands include greater flexibility so they can move nurses between units and maintain minimum staffing. Nurses say this requires them to float from unit to unit without proper knowledge of specialized technology and requirements for patient care.
The hospitals are also demanding cuts in health benefits and about a 30 percent drop in pension contributions.
Some 12,000 union nurses held a one-day walkout June 10 to protest the contract proposed by hospital administrations.
At a June 26 Picnic for Patient Safety, Wendi Iskierka, a nurse at the new Childrens Hospital in Minneapolis, reported that management locked out union nurses before the scheduled 7:00 a.m. strike on June 10.
Management asked nurses to leave, she said, some as early as 2:00 a.m., refusing to allow communication between nurses leaving and replacement nurses.
Nurses were escorted out like criminals. We are facing a crisis of health care, all they are looking at are the numbers, another nurse said. If there is no patient safety, how can there be health-care reform?
Nurses at the picnic reported that construction workers at one hospital refused to cross the picket line on June 10 and United Parcel Service workers refused to make deliveries to the 14 hospitals on strike.
Many nonunion technicians and nursing assistants refused to work overtime during the one-day strike. The hospital corporations hired 2,800 scab workers to fill in for the striking nurses.
Hospitals are preparing to bring in nurses from across the country if there is an open-ended strike July 6.
Health Source Global Staffing is soliciting nurses willing to cross picket lines. U.S. Nursing posted temporary jobs for the Twin Cities at a salary of $3,850 per week with free travel and housing.
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