ALBERT LEA, Minn. Dozens of services workers at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea have voted to authorize a one-day strike.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota says the group includes certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, and sterile processors in utility and materials management. The union says 92% of those voting on Friday approved a strike authorization, which means the one-day walkout could happened at any point after a 10-day notice to Mayo.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota says no strike date has been set. The union says this move is in response to what it calls Mayo’s refusal to negotiate in “good faith.”
"It seems like Mayo is cutting everything they can to save themselves a nickel. Doing nothing as this happens to the workers in our unit with hundreds of years experience at our community hospital just isn't an option," says Justin Yost, who SEIU says has worked in Mayo-Albert Lea’s utilities department for 14 years. "I voted yes to authorize the strike because when you work for a big healthcare corporation, you shouldn't have to worry about not having or being able to afford healthcare. That could be a reality if Mayo refuses to budge on their proposal to be able to take away healthcare from employees at any time. I hope they will come back to the table and bargain in good faith."
In response to the strike authorization vote, Mayo Clinic issued the following statement:
"We have been made aware that employees represented by SEIU Healthcare MN in Albert Lea have voted to authorize a strike. The authorization vote does not mean a strike has been set, it merely authorizes union leaders to call a strike. While this is a standard union tactic in negotiations, we are nevertheless disappointed the Union has chosen to make this decision, especially since SEIU leadership has not asked to meet with us to negotiate since May. It is difficult to move toward an agreement acceptable to all sides when the parties are not meeting. Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea has been and continues to be ready to return to the bargaining table and we would hope that SEIU feels the same way. This strike authorization vote, however, sends a very different message."
"This group is 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 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."
"Mayo Clinic also received notice on September 21, 2017 that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Division of Judges has dismissed SEIU’s Unfair Labor Practice claims against Mayo Clinic Health System. The ruling came after a formal hearing that was held in April, 2017. The judge’s ruling stated that Mayo has fully complied with the law and negotiated in good faith with SEIU. We are pleased with the judge’s ruling and hope to return to the bargaining table soon to come to agreement on a fair and sustainable contract that is acceptable to both parties."