DEER RIVER, MINN – A strike has been averted in Deer River as members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and management for Essential Health reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) late Wednesday. The tentative agreement addressed many of the workers goals for negotiations including significant wage and benefit increases for the frontline staff who have kept patients and residents safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers had voted overwhelmingly to hold a 5-day ULP strike that would have started Monday if an agreement had not been reached.
Kristi Giffen, a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota on the bargaining team and a Cook who has worked at Essentia Deer River for 11 years, shared why the bargaining team is recommending a "Yes" vote when members vote on the 9th.
"I am proud of our members for sticking together and demanding what is right. Because we were willing to strike, we were able to make gains that will help both us as essential healthcare workers and the patients and clients we serve. We still have work to do in our fight to make sure frontline healthcare workers are fully respected, protected and paid, but we are proud of this tentative agreement and are recommending members to vote yes."
The full details of the TA are currently being shared with members, who will vote on the Tentative Agreement in the coming days, but highlights include:
- Wage increases of between 5% and 7% over two years for all workers
- Ratification bonuses of up to $500
- Increased "call pay" and Shift Differentials
- New Health and Safety Language
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents around 70 healthcare workers at Essentia Health Deer River who are employed as Nutrition Services Assistant, Activity Aide, Laundry Worker, EVS technician, Home Health Aide, Sterile Processing Technician, Cook, Nursing Assistant, LPN, Health Unit Coordinator, Phlebotomist, maintenance, floor care tech, Medical Lab Tech, Surge Tech, Medical Technologist and Radiology Technicians.