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Essentia files additional unfair labor practice charge against nurse strike

The health care system claims the Minnesota Nurses Association failed to include Essentia Health-Duluth in its list of facilities that received a strike notice.

Essentia buildings.
The Essentia Health campus in Duluth on Aug. 4.
Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Essentia Health announced Wednesday morning it has filed another unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the Minnesota Nurses Association's planned strike, this time for failing to include Essentia Health–Duluth in its 10-day strike notice list.

The list of 16 hospitals that were given the notice about the Sept. 12-15 strike included Essentia Health–St. Mary's Medical Center, but did not include Essentia Health–Duluth. Because of this, Miller Dwan nurses are still expected to show up for work during the strike.

"This is another oversight from the MNA in its rush to a work stoppage," Essentia said in a news release. "While we respect the MNA’s right to call a legal strike, they have not followed the regulatory process in this case. These laws are in place to hold both sides accountable. Essentia will continue to follow the process as defined in statute, and we expect the MNA to do the same."

MNA First Vice President Chris Rubesch, who is a registered nurse at Essentia, said the charge is "yet another desperate move" and an attempt to stop up to 15,000 nurses from walking out next week.

The MNA strike is planned for 7 a.m. Sept. 12 to 7 a.m. Sept 15 in the Twin Ports, Moose Lake and Twin Cities area. All health care systems that are expected to be impacted by the strike — Essentia, St. Luke's, M Health Fairview, Allina, Children's, HealthPartners Methodist and North Memorial — filed unfair labor relations charges with the NLRB on Thursday, Sept. 1, for failing to notify federal and state mediation services, as required by the National Labor Relations Act.

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"The National Labor Relations Board requires notification only of the date and time that picketing will commence, which the Minnesota Nurses Association provided to Essentia Health. There is no requirement that a union provide notice of the locations at which it intends to picket," Rubesch said. “It is unfortunate that Essentia executives are spending more time and money on lawyers than negotiating with nurses to avoid a strike on Sept. 12."

Rubesch said the negotiating team hopes to meet with hospital executives later Wednesday to work toward settling contracts. Essentia also hopes to continue conversations at the bargaining table, and again called on MNA to consider mediation.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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