Minnesota Nurses Association Shoots Down St. Luke’s Proposed Delay to Wage Increase

Nurses wanted St. Luke's to honor MNA contract should the hospital be sold

DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) tells us they recently shot down a proposal from St. Luke’s that would have postponed scheduled pay increases for nurses.

This comes less than a year after nurses voted to strike during the last round of negotiations with the hospital before the current contract was agreed upon.

Healthcare providers across the country are facing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including St. Luke’s in Duluth.

The hospital tells us it recently asked nurses to delay wage increases to help preserve jobs and lower expenses during this difficult time.

According to a MNA representative, nurses were willing to delay pay raises and forego tuition and seminar reimbursements for six months if St. Luke’s agreed to honor the nurses’ contract should the hospital be sold.

St. Luke’s would not agree to the nurses’ proposal, calling it “significant structural changes in the overall contract.”

“By having this language in the contract would ensure that we wouldn’t have to take our resources, our energy and put it into fighting for a fair contract again when we have a contract that was agreed upon by St. Luke’s and us less than a year ago,” explained R.N. Pete Boyechko, co-chair of the St. Luke’s MNA bargaining unit.

The MNA says it has no direct or indirect knowledge of any potential sale of St. Luke’s.

The hospital’s President and CEO, Kevin Norkels, went a step further in denying a sale, sending this statement to Fox 21:

“There is simply no truth to the rumors St. Luke’s is in talks to merge with or to be acquired by another organization. St. Luke’s, like most hospitals, is facing financial challenges due to the pandemic and resulting decline in patient visits. To address these challenges, we have an incredible team that has developed a solid plan to continue to care for our community, now and into the future.”

Because the MNA did not agree to delay wage increases, the raises went into effect this month.

MNA representatives say 50 nurses have accepted voluntary temporary layoffs from St. Luke’s. Some of them have already returned to work.

The current contract between the MNA and St. Luke’s runs through 2022.

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