The planned 3-day Minnesota Nurse Association strike began at 7:00 a.m. today and it's scheduled to end Thursday, September 15 at 6:59 a.m.

This is the largest private sector nurses strike in United States history and it's occurring despite negotiation efforts that went into last weekend.

Essentia Health in Duluth was providing daily updates of the negotiation process, with the September 10 update revealing why an agreement was not reached:

Representatives of Essentia Health and the Minnesota Nurses Association met for the 17th bargaining session today. The discussions focused on staffing and work assignments. The MNA said it appreciated Essentia’s work on the proposal, however discussions did not lead to an agreement.

At the end of the day, the MNA provided an economic proposal. The MNA is proposing a wage increase of 27% over three years, plus many other economic demands. We cannot say yes to this because we do not believe this is responsible. Essentia values its nurses and is proposing 10% over three years, plus an immediate 1% bonus.

While we hoped to reach agreement, we ended negotiations for the day because we did not believe there was sufficient movement that would lead to an agreement prior to the MNA’s planned strike this Monday.

We are disappointed that the MNA has called a strike. We want to assure our patients and communities that our hospitals will remain open and accessible. We have extensive contingency staffing plans in place to preserve our ability to deliver the highest standards of patient care.

Essentia will continue to negotiate in good faith in pursuit of a mutually beneficial agreement that supports quality patient care and good local jobs, including continuing to request mediation, which the union has consistently declined. We look forward to scheduling another bargaining session.

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While the nurses strike is occurring, patients from local facilities likely have questions about whether care will still provided or if changes to appointments will need to be made. According to Essentia Health and St. Luke's in Duluth, it will mostly be business as usual from a care standpoint.

Essential Health states they have prepared for a wide range of contingencies to ensure they can maintain their "high standards of patient care, including uninterrupted urgent and emergency care." These plans include bringing in temporary and licensed nurses as well as redirecting qualified staff from other Essentia Health facilities to fill any needs that might arise. They believe this will allow them to continue serving their communities with the kind of "expert and compassionate care they expect and deserve."

Essentia Health does note that a small number of elective surgeries and previously scheduled appointments may need to be rescheduled. Those patients will be contacted directly.

St. Luke's Hospital Regional Trauma Center in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

According to the St. Luke's website, they are working with a staffing agency to bring in qualified, licensed nurses to their care team, which includes LPNs, HUCs, Nursing Assistants, Physical/Occupational/Speech Therapists, Dietitians, Pharmacists, Respiratory Therapists, Hospitalists, Lab Technicians, and many other professionals.

The state they will continue to offer all services and will be fully open for all inpatient, emergency and clinic-based care.

They also add they may need to reschedule some non-urgent surgeries and procedures. Patients are advised to arrive as scheduled unless they hear differently from their provider.

Patients may see MNA members may be picketing around Duluth hospitals, but they respect the continued need for patient care.

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