Friday, June 11, 2010

Twin Cities' Odd Nursing Strike

The Twin Cities nursing strike ended. Its issues of pay and nurse staffing ratios didn't surprise me. What did was the collection of nonprofit community hospital systems in a collective bargaining organization, Twin Cities Hospitals. Its members include:

Allina Hospitals & Clinics

Children's Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota

Fairview Health Services

HealthEast Care System

North Memorial

Park Nicollet

While they banded together in a collective, the nonprofit systems "negotiated individually", one per day of the week.

Going deeper, the nonprofit hospital collective wanted to cut nurse pension benefits. On this issue, they worked in concert. Their proposal stated:

Currently, benefits are calculated on a percentage of pay and accrue each year. Individuals with 13 or more years of service have an accrual rate of 1.75 percent. Individuals with fewer than 13 years have an accrual rate of 1.65 percent.

The Twin Cities Hospitals proposed to change the benefit formula to 1.1 percent.

That's a 35% cut in the pension accrual rate for nurses. If "scarcer than hen's teeth" nurses can have their retirement benefits cut, what chance do other professions have of keeping theirs?

The global race to the bottom on worker pay and benefits continues. It's a slow, painful drip.

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