Published on September 01, 2022

Essentia urges mediation to reach agreement with MNA  

Along with several other health systems across the state, Essentia Health on Thursday received a 10-day strike notice from the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). This impacts hospitals in Duluth, Superior and Moose Lake.

We are disappointed that the MNA has called a strike. It is our belief that we have a shared responsibility to care for the communities we’re privileged to serve. At Essentia, we’re proud to have some of the finest nurses in the world; they are an integral part of that commitment. We look forward to reaching an agreement that benefits them while continuing to provide expert, compassionate — and uninterrupted — care for our patients.

Progress has been made in talks, but significant gaps remain.

The MNA is seeking a 32.5% wage increase over three years. Essentia offers competitive wages, sign-on and shift bonuses, tuition reimbursement/assistance and numerous other benefits. A 32.5% wage increase on top of that package is not sustainable. We are currently offering a 10% wage increase over three years.

Because of these gaps, we have repeatedly requested mediation, which the union has consistently declined.

Please note that today’s notice does not guarantee a strike will occur. Essentia will continue to negotiate in good faith in pursuit of a mutually beneficial agreement that supports quality patient care and good local jobs. Additional bargaining sessions are scheduled for next week.

Essentia’s hospitals will remain open and accessible throughout this process. Should a strike occur, we have contingency staffing plans in place to preserve our ability to deliver the highest standards of patient care.

In response to today’s announcement, Essentia joined other Minnesota health systems in filing an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The MNA failed to give the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services a required notice. It is our hope that by filing this charge we can return our focus to the bargaining table; we must exhaust every option to avoid a work stoppage. That is why we took this step.

We respect the MNA’s right to call a legal strike. But they have not done so in this case, and we have a responsibility to provide patient care without disruption. The MNA would challenge any perceived failure to follow regulatory process on our part. We are holding them to the same level of accountability and urging them to continue bargaining with us.

Bargaining updates can be found at essentiamnabargaining.org.