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‘Overworked’: US nurses strike over low pay and understaffing

Nearly 15,000 private-sector nurses in the US state of Minnesota have begun a three-day strike as they press for higher pay and better staffing in a health care system stretched to its limits during the COVID-19 pandemic. has happened

Nurses walked off the job at seven health care systems in Minneapolis and Duluth on Monday, forming picket lines, chanting and holding signs with messages such as “patients before profits.”

The strike, which was scheduled to last until Thursday morning, will affect 16 hospitals, according to a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), which is coordinating the action.

“Hospital executives have already driven nurses from the bedside by refusing to address the staffing and retention crisis at our hospitals,” the union’s negotiating team said in a statement. I added that nurses are “understaffed and overworked”.

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The strike, which MNA said is believed to be the largest of its kind in United States history, underscores the continuing problems American health care workers face. , such as low pay and staff shortages.

The pandemic has exacerbated many of these problems, and the sector has lost nearly 37,000 workers since February 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hospitals and striking nurses have said staff shortages are a mutual concern, but the union has accused management of dragging its feet during negotiations.

The union said it has spent more than five months trying to negotiate a new contract, and nurses have been working without a contract for weeks.

The strike has caught the attention of pro-labor US lawmakers, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, who on Monday called nurses “the backbone of our health care system” and called for better wages and fairer work schedules. What did

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Management has said that the nearly 30 percent increase that nurses are demanding is too high, and hospitals have offered a 10-12 percent pay hike. In a statement, several hospitals affected by the strike called the demands “unrealistic, unreasonable and intolerable”.

MNA president Mary Trand has said the increase is a key component in tackling what she has called a “retention crisis” that could lead to severe understaffing in hospitals.

Maddie Gee, a second-year nurse who joined the picket line Monday after completing an overnight shift, told the Star Tribune newspaper that she was due to work pressure at MHealth Fairview Southdale Hospital. have already reduced their hours.

“How long can you keep it up?” asked the gays.

Union spokesman Sam Fettig said nurses decided to hold a three-day strike instead of a more open strike to minimize the impact of the dispute on patient care.

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“As nurses always say, that’s not what they want to do, they want to be at the bedside caring,” Fettig said.

Affected hospitals have said temporary nurses will help maintain most services despite potential disruptions.

North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, said it was “making some adjustments to non-emergency care and services to ensure adequate and safe staffing during the strike period”.

But it emphasized that it would continue to offer its “full range of services,” including inpatient, outpatient and emergency care, and that it would serve customers by appointment. .

Elena Health, which owns four hospitals with striking nurses, said on its website that it was doing everything it could to minimize disruptions.

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Union activity has been on the rise across the U.S., as workers push for better wages in a variety of industries.

Some companies, such as Starbucks, have tried to undermine unionization efforts, but more than 230 of the chain’s stores across the U.S. have voted to unionize since late last year.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has urged railroads and unions to reach an agreement this weekend to avoid halting railroad work.

Railroads have until one minute after midnight Friday to reach tentative agreements with holdout unions representing about 60,000 workers, who are pushing back on work rules that most employees have to pay. Will need to be on-call and available to work days.

“The parties are continuing negotiations, and tomorrow night [Labor] Secretary [Marty] Walsh once again pressed the parties to reach a resolution that prevents any shutdown of our rail system,” a Department of Labor spokesman said. “All parties need to be at the table to resolve outstanding issues. So there is a need to bargain in good faith, and come to an agreement.”

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