On the Picket Line

Nurses picket across Minnesota fighting for more staff, pay

July 11, 2022

HASTINGS, Minn. — Dozens of nurses and their supporters gathered outside the Allina Regina Hospital here June 21 in an informational picket. The central issue is management hiring more nurses to allow for better care and an end to schedules and forced overtime that make conditions dangerous for staff and patients. Pickets were also held at St. Luke’s and Essentia hospitals in Duluth.

“It’s all solidarity,” nurse Gina Jacobson told this Militant worker-correspondent. “We need to retain more nurses so we can serve the community.” Picketing nurses chanted, “Patients before profits.”

Over 15,000 nurses across Minnesota are in negotiations. Thousands picketed throughout Twin Cities June 1. Though they face different contracts, demands are similar — hire more staff and improve wages and benefits. The conditions nurses face have been made worse by the effects of the COVID pandemic.

“When you’re working and past your eight hours or 12 hours, you’re not at your peak,” nurse Angie Nolle told CBS-3 in Duluth, “and it’s your third double that week. Do you think you’re going to be giving the best patient care that you can?”

“The profit-first policies of hospital CEOs have created a staffing and retention crisis,” Mary C. Turner, Minnesota Nurses Association president and a registered nurse at North Memorial Hospital, told the press, “pushing nurses away from the bedside and putting the bottom line ahead of patient care.”

David Rosenfeld, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Congress, spoke with nurse Mary McAlpin about how hospital managements are taking humanity out of health care. “Telehealth shouldn’t be developed into routine care,” McAlpin said. “There’s too many negatives.”

“That’s an example of how every ‘innovation’ gets warped into another way to make profits while undermining quality health care,” Rosenfeld said. “As long as health care is seen as a business first and foremost, short-term profits will be the only thing that matters to the owners. Only the working class has an interest in organizing society on the basis of human solidarity.”