Allina should end nurse strike

This week, more than 4,800 nurses are striking against the Allina Health system in Minneapolis. The nurses are irked by a stalemate over Allina’s health insurance contract for its employees. The Minnesota Nurses Association rejected Allina’s most recent contract offer.

Current union-protected health benefits offer higher premiums and lower deductibles. Allina claims that the current insurance model is costly and unsustainable. Instead, the company is advocating for a new contract that would cost affected nurses more. 

Allina’s perspective is valid, but undercutting nurses’ health benefits isn’t appropriate. There are better ways to promote the responsible use of health care — for instance, providing financial incentives independent of current health care insurance. 

Allina’s decision to bring in replacement nurses from around the country during the strike has been fraught with challenges for Allina at some hospitals such as Abbot. Attempting to fill the void, many temporary nurses are not acclimated to the new emergency or patient care rooms. These are factors that directly impact patient care. 

We recommend Allina resume negotiations with the union in order to provide satisfactory health coverage for its employees. While the strike may soon be over, having disgruntled nurses working for a hospital system — that they perceive to be unfair — is a liability for all.

Many studies point to employee satisfaction and happiness as key tenets to improving outcomes. In this case, when the job is to take care of the sick, it’s even more important. If Allina wants to ensure good patient outcomes, it must start by building its relationship with nurses.