Albert Lea, Minn. – According to a press release, SEIU Healthcare is filing a 10-day notice of intent to hold a an Unfair Labor Practice strike at Albert Lea Hospital on Dec. 19.
The statements said the notice “comes as the skilled maintenance workers who have been without a contract for over two years voted to join the general group also represented by SEIU who voted overwhelmingly to authorize a 1-day strike in late November. The votes come as Mayo in effect continues to demand steps backwards for working families as part of their evidently ongoing devaluation of rural healthcare. The general group bargaining unit includes 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, providing essential services to community members who utilize the hospital. There are six skilled maintenance workers.”
Marlene Baseman, who has worked as a housekeeper at the hospital for 27 years, said “It seems like they have no regards for people who aren’t executives. We feel like we are disposable to them,” Baseman continued. “We have to stand up for ourselves and our community. We won’t cave because we are fighting for what is right.”
The following is a statement from Mayo Clinic regarding the issue
"We have yet to receive an official notice from the union of their plans to strike. It is unfortunate that the union would put out a press release prior to fulfilling their legal obligation. If in fact the union has decided to call a strike, it is regrettable that they would deliberately subject our hard-working employees to uncertainty, anxiety and lost wages at this time of year. We are especially disappointed that the union would call a strike now, since the SEIU General group, which composes the majority of the impacted workers, didn’t even ask us for a bargaining session between May and last week, and a recently scheduled meeting with the union has yet to occur. We cannot let the Union’s decision compromise patient care, and we have previously informed the union that we must bring in replacement workers to ensure there are no disruptions. Due to contractual obligations to the replacement workers that are standard industry practice, the union’s decision means striking employees will be out of work for one week from the commencement of any strike.
We value the contribution of our maintenance and service employees and the important role they fulfill in the operations of the Mayo Clinic Health System. We remain committed to providing them fair wages and benefits. The employees are being offered the same Mayo Clinic benefits package that is enjoyed by virtually all other allied health employees, which we strongly believe is better as a whole than the benefits they currently receive. SEIU, the union representing the employees, is opposing standard contract language that would allow the medical center to make adjustments to the benefits during the contract period to keep benefits consistent with those offered to other union and non-union employees. This contract language has already been accepted by virtually all union groups within the Mayo Clinic Health System, including all other union groups in Albert Lea and Austin and also applies to virtually all non-union employees.
Due to the regressive labor bargaining tactics by the SEIU, earlier this month Mayo Clinic Health System filed an unfair labor practice charge ULP charge against the union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This uncommon step was necessary to ensure union leadership will negotiate in good faith.
Mayo respects and remains committed to the negotiations process. It is our hope the SEIU leadership returns to the table with a renewed focus on reaching an agreement for our employees."