September 26, 2022
(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) — Thousands of nurses walked off the job earlier this month for a three-day strike to demand better working conditions at 16 hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout Minnesota.
This was the largest private-sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history, according to the Minnesota Nurses Association, the labor union that represents registered nurses.
At North Memorial Hospital where Brianna Hnath is an ICU nurse and serves as a member of the union’s contract action team, there have been 1,000 nurses in the middle of contract negotiations for six months of this year and very little progress was made, she said.
“The common undertone throughout all of this is just respect for us as nurses and our profession,” Hnath said. “If there are no negotiations, I don’t know what will happen next.”
Beyond fighting for higher wages, the nurses desire better staffing, scheduling, and reduced risk of workplace violence, Hnath said. Patients and family members have physically and verbally attacked nurses over the years, she said.
During the three-day strike, nurses marched in the streets surrounding the Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis or played music and recited chants while holding posters in front of their respective hospitals and healthcare facilities.
“I feel super empowered,” says Toni Eustice, a registered nurse at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. “It feels so good to be out here and so good getting our message across and having so much support from people.”
Hnath and her coworker, Eustice, expressed hope for change when they return to work. “I just hope the hospital sees it as more than just money,” says Eustice.
The Click reached out to the Robbinsdale hospital via phone but a spokesperson declined to comment about the strike. A spokesperson for the Minneapolis hospital also declined to comment about the strike and assured that services for patients were not interrupted.
Hnath says it’s unclear when the next negotiations meeting will be held or if they’ll go on strike again.