Nurses at 15 Minnesota hospitals went on strike for three days this week to let management know they are serious about the issues they’re raising at the bargaining table. In addition to wage increases, the nurses are looking for improvements in staffing and retention and safety, and for respect as professionals with legitimate input into their patients’ care. At around 15,000 people, this may have been the largest private-sector nurses strike ever.
Speaking at a press conference, one nurse attributed the 500 or more nurses who have left Children’s Hospital Minnesota St. Paul Campus over the past few years to “the moral distress of no longer being able to provide the care and quality they believe your children deserve.”
While the nurses strike was for a set number of days, the Seattle teachers strike that ended this week was about winning a contract before going back to work. The teachers were on strike starting on Sept. 7, which had been scheduled as the first day of school, seeking to protect student-teacher ratios in special education classes, reduce class sizes that in some cases were over 40 students, block staffing cuts especially targeting substitutes and paraprofessionals, and win cost of living adjustments that actually reflect the cost of living. The bargaining teams reached a tentative agreement on Sept. 12, and members ratified it on Sept. 13.