Former Duluth Councilor Raises Issue Over Removed MNA Agenda Item After Letter Is Signed Instead

DULUTH, Minn. — A former Duluth City Councilor took to Facebook several days ago, writing that he is concerned how a resolution supporting nurses in contract negotiations was removed from the council’s agenda and a letter was signed instead.

Joel Sipress says it was an unprecedented move for councilors to vote to remove a resolution from their agenda while the councilors who originally put it there wanted to leave it as it is.

The agenda item was sponsored by three councilors Azrin Awal, Mike Mayou, and Gary Anderson who took the nurses’ side as their contract negotiations with the hospitals drags on.

Sipress says that he’s never seen an item voted to be removed from an agenda, and councilors can typically add anything they want to it so it can be debated.

He says he believes it can create a dangerous precedent for items to be voted off from an agenda in the future.

“By removing this resolution from the council agenda, the council majority has completely rewritten the informal rules of Duluth City Council collegiality and ushered in a new era in which council majorities will use their power to stifle council debate,” Sipress wrote on Facebook.

However, City Council President Arik Forsman says that the entire council decided to show support for nurses in a different way, with all nine members signing letters addressed to the Essentia Health and St. Luke’s CEOs, created by the Northeast Area Labor Council in favor of the MNA strike.

“Last week, there was a resolution introduced on the same topic,” Forsman said. “Some councilors felt that it was duplicative of what we had already done, and also felt strongly about maintaining a balance of what the council formally works on and endorses as resolutions and ordinances, and so the resolution did not move forward to Monday night, and that does not mean that we don’t stay in strong support of our nurses and hope that they get a fair contract.”

Forsman added that the letter the councilors all signed was a collaboration with local MNA leadership, but the resolution proposed wasn’t supported by them.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, Azrin Awal expressed her disappointment at the end of the session that the resolution was taken off the agenda.


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