UPDATE: Sanford-nurses - hospital services not affected
Registered nurses at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center voted Thursday against the hospital management’s contract offer. However, negotiations are still possible, and services remain unaffected said Joy Johnson chief operations officer.
“We have not received a strike notice,” she said. For us, the most important thing is to let the community, our doctors and staff know it’s business as usual, continue to serve community needs.”
Registered nurses at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center voted Thursday against the hospital management’s contract offer. However, negotiations are still possible, and services remain unaffected said Joy Johnson chief operating officer.
“We have not received a strike notice,” she said during a Friday morning press briefing. “For us, the most important thing is to let the community, our doctors and staff know it’s business as usual, continue to serve community needs.”
“We have always been and continue to be open to further negotiations,” said Sanford Bemidji Marketing DirectorLindsey Wagnberg in a press release. “We will remain fully operational with all services available to the community throughout the entire negotiation process.”
She said mutual compromise has brought the Minnesota Nurses Association and hospital management together in agreement on staffing.
“We are constantly reviewing staffing and scheduling,” Wangberg said. “We follow best practice nurse staffing guidelines set by professional nursing organizations.”
However, Peter Danielson, RN, of the MNA bargaining team, said safe staffing levels remain a major sticking point in the talks.
Johnson said members of management are disappointed in the MNA registered nurses’ vote because they believe the contract offer is fair and reasonable.
“We as an organization have been, and continue to be, always willing to negotiate – always,” she said.
The contract offer includes wage increases of 2 percent per year over three years, which, Johnson said, exceeds most MNA contracts in Minnesota.
Danielson said other reasons to reject the contract include management’s demand for concessions from nurses regarding health care and pension plans.
Johnson countered that being part of Sanford Health means, Bemidji hospital RNs are part of a benefit plan that is sustainable and offers competitive salaries and benefits for all 20,000 employees.
Danielson said the concessions in the contract offer make recruiting the nest nurses difficult.
However, Johnson pointed out that Sanford Bemidji Medical Center currently has 189 RN applications for three openings.
She said family is a Sanford core value. To respect that value, she said negotiations would continue privately with the negotiating committee.
Although no strike has been called, and the union is required to give the hospital 10 days notice if a strike is to be called, Johnson said management has made provision for a strike possibility. She said services from emergencies to elective surgery to diagnoses would remain unaffected.
“We are prepared to bring in temporary staff, and we are confident we will be able to provide all services without interruption,” Johnson said.
Johnson said 250-230 registered nurses work at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. She said as far as she knows and as far as anyone she has asked can remember, there has not been a nurses’ strike at a Bemidji hospital.
The current nurses’ contract expired Feb. 28, and contract negotiations have been ongoing since April.