MINNEAPOLIS – Mental health workers from MHealth Fairview and Allina Health who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa filed a 10-day notice for their Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike as they continue to struggle to reach a fair agreement on a first contract for these frontline, essential workers. The three-day ULP strike would begin the morning of Monday, Oct. 3rd.
The workers held a one-day ULP strike in May during Mental Health Awareness month. Following three more months where workers haven’t seen progress to address the issues they are facing, the group voted with 98% support to authorize this ULP strike if needed. The strike follows 15,000 nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association who recently held a three-day strike at various hospitals around the metro.
Dana Disbrow, a psychiatric associate at MHealth Fairview for six years, shared the ongoing frustration these essential workers are feeling about delays and why they are ready to strike:
"It is frustrating that it is coming to this once again. Minnesota is facing a huge mental health crisis that impacts so many families. We are fighting for safe staffing levels and a contract that helps us work to improve our industry, but we keep running into dead ends from the employer." said Disbrow. "We are ready to strike because no one should worry about getting hurt at work. We are ready to strike because no one should have to worry if there will be enough workers if they need mental health support. We've already lost too many good workers because of the challenges we are facing, and we are ready to strike for the health, safety and dignity of ourselves and our patients."
Despite a growing crisis for patients and workers leaving the field, both MHealth Fairview and Allina Health have refused to reach a fair agreement for a first contract that would respect workers & patients in increasingly difficult circumstances to ensure stability for this essential industry. Workers have faced increased safety issues inside the building and outside both locations, adding to their stress.
Amanda Reasor, a Senior Mental Health Coordinator at Allina Unity Hospital for four years, shared why this fight is so important for mental health workers:
“It is unfortunate that we feel the only way Allina will hear us is if we take drastic action. We have made immense strides toward a fair resolution while also demanding fair wages, wholistic benefits, and a safer workplace. We deserve to be treated like the professionals we are, yet Allina has come back time and time again saying ‘not interested’ to some of the most important facets to our contract. If we don't see significant strides on Allina's part, we will strike.”
The Union and management have one date at MHealth and one at Allina scheduled before the strike date, but many issues remain to be solved, especially at Allina.
The group includes over 400 workers between the two organizations. At MHealth Fairview they work as Pysch Associates and Behavioral Assistants, Senior Mental Health Coordinators at Allina Abbott Northwestern and Unity Hospitals they work as Senior Mental Health Coordinators. The workers voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa in late 2021.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care