(NewsNation) — Thousands of nurses in Minnesota returned to work, ending a three-day strike spurred by what nurses describe as a severe staffing problem in the nursing industry.
Members of the Minnesota Nurses’ Association at 15 hospitals in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked off the job Monday. Nurses could soon learn what impact the strike may have had on efforts to reach a new contract.
“We’re the backbone of the hospital, we’re the most valuable asset the hospital has, we’re just kind of asking for that to be shown,” Ryan Hilmoe, a Minnesota cardiac nurse, told NewsNation. “Since COVID we’ve had intense labor shortages every day. It’s just a desperate situation trying to meet the needs of all our patients.”
Some 15,000 nurses at seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked out, a number the union says makes it the largest strike ever by private-sector nurses. The affected hospitals recruited temporary nurses to cover for striking union members.
The hospitals have offered a 10-12% wage increase over three years, but nurses are seeking more than 30%. Hospital leaders called their wage demands unaffordable, noting that Allina and Fairview hospitals have posted operating losses and that the cost of such sharp wage increases would be passed along to patients.
The hospitals affected by the strike are operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it is Essentia and St Luke’s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.