nurses union st. lukes

The Minnesota Nurses Association announced Saturday that its nurses reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract with St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth. The announcement came after a marathon 17-hour negotiation session.

The negotiation team is recommending a “yes” vote.

“Nurses are pleased this agreement addresses the staffing crisis and ensures there are enough nurses to care for patients safely,” the union said in a statement. “The tentative agreement stipulates nurses will be paid short staffing bonuses if they are called in when the hospital cannot keep up with number of patients or the severity of patient conditions. St. Luke’s nurses also won the same workplace violence measures that MNA nurses in the Twin Cities agreed to in their contracts this past June.”

The agreement will bring St. Luke’s nurses to parity with nurses at Essentia hospitals, with wage of 3%, 3.8%, and 2.25% over three years, respectively.  

The MNA said it will pull the strike notice filed with St. Luke’s Hospital for the scheduled work stoppage scheduled on October 3. Nurses have been negotiating with St. Luke’s management since May 15. The contract expired on June 30. Read this week’s Labor World for more on the story.

Sign up for Election Conference

Speakers have been confirmed for “2020: Eyes on the Election”, the First Annual Conference and Election of Board Members and Officers of the Minnesota State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO. The Conference is set for Wednesday, September 25 at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 10 Hall, 1681 Cope Avenue in Maplewood.
The Conference aims to provide union retirees with information and motivation for meaningful involvement in the 2020 election. There will be booths on Social Security, Health Care Issues, the 2020 Census– and more– with people present to answer questions.
The following speakers are now confirmed:
* Secretary of State Steve Simon will review election security issues and the new schedule and mechanics for the presidential primary.
* Senator Tina Smith will greet and speak to the group by video.
* Buddy Robinson of the Minnesota Citizens Federation Northeast will present the latest on Social Security and how the issue may be part of the 2020 election campaign. The Retiree Council has partnered with Buddy in offering forums to share his program about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the last several years.
* Rose Roach, executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association, will address health care issues and their importance in the 2020 campaign. Rose has negotiated health care contracts for nurses and is an advocate for health care reform.
* Elaine Rothman, a retired teacher and chair of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Retiree Council (MRRC) Complete Count Committee will review the importance and timetable of the 2020 census. She has been working on census issues for almost a year.
* Pommella Wegman, AFL-CIO Field Director, will bring the group the revised presidential primary/precinct caucus calendar and functions, an outline of the Labor 2020 timetable and goals, and how union retirees fit into this picture.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on September 25. At 2 p.m. the Conference will adjourn to have the Election of Officers and Board members. Because these official actions are to be taken at this get-together, credentials have been provided to every Retiree Council affiliate so they can register their voting delegates. Non-affiliated groups and individuals are welcome to attend. For registration information, contact 651 227 7647, ext. 121.
This will be an exciting “launch” into the 2020 campaign effort. We CANNOT start too soon!

UAW strikes at all GM facilities

Almost 50,000 UAW members went out on strike against GM this morning, the largest widespread workplace action in years. 

“As our UAW brothers and sisters prepare to walk the picket line, the 12.5 million working people of the AFL-CIO are ready to march alongside them,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Calling a strike is a deeply difficult decision and always a measure of last resort. This is a fight to win dignity for the 46,000 auto workers who have delivered their bosses record-breaking profits for years. We will have their backs every day until they win the respect and security that they deserve.”

According to reports, Teamsters are refusing to transport GM vehicles during the strike. “Teamsters and the UAW have a decades-long relationship of having each other’s back,” said 

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “And that continues with the UAW’s notification that it will go out on strike against General Motors at midnight. Our 1.4 million members stand in solidarity with the UAW and will honor their picket lines. At a time when more and more companies are downsizing and shipping jobs out of the U.S., it is imperative that unions fight for their members. Workers should be rewarded for good work with fair wages and benefits. That’s what the UAW is demanding.”

St. Germaine Family Launches Fundraiser

Anyone who knows Christina St. Germaine knows she’s a giver. She works for the Department of Human Services at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, is president of AFSCME Local 1092 and serves a delegate to the Duluth Central Labor Body, board member to the NEALC and general board member of the state fed. 

As a delegate, she was one of the people who helped humanize the issue of Earned Sick and Safe Time in Duluth. She made a statement at a city council meeting in March 2018 during hearings on ESST. She told her story of having a miscarriage at age 19 when working while pregnant. Councilor Jay Fosle waved the issue away, saying it was her choice to become pregnant. People objected noisily, standing up for her in the gallery.

Brandon St. Germaine and his mother, Christina, president of AFSCME Local 1092.

Now, the community has a chance to give back.

 Christina is getting the word out about her son, Brandon. He was born with a rare genetic disorder called diastrophic dysplasia, a type of dwarfism. She’s hoping to raise funds to purchase a qualifying used or new minivan to modify for him to drive.

“I grew up knowing that the union gave us everything we have, and that my parents made a living wage — they didn’t just have jobs,” Brandon said. “I’ve always known the value of unions representing workers and building your own level of power. Everything I have comes from the union, so it’s natural to ask for help with this, too.”

Christina said her doctor told her that Brandon’s dysplasia was one of the worst he had seen. Brandon has gone through more than a dozen surgeries and uses a powered wheelchair to get around, but needs more mobility to become truly independent.

“Brandon doesn’t want to depend on his dad and I to give him rides when it fits into our schedules,” Christina said. 

“People who get hand-me-down vehicles in high school or when they graduate, even that’s a barrier to entry for me to just jump in a car and go,” Brandon said. “A lot of people solve that problem when they’re 16 — I’m double that and still trying to make it work.”

Christina and Brandon toured Rollx Vans in Savage, where they modify vehicles for a variety of uses. She has since started a GoFundMe to help purchase a van for Brandon that could be adapted to fit his needs, such as with a powered ramp and adapted controls.

Brandon is a comedian — “I do standup, but I don’t stand up” — and is in the process of organizing benefits to help raise money for the van, ideally an event in October (stay tuned for updates). 

He’s done open-mic events at venues around the Twin Ports as well as Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis. “A lot of my comedy is about disability and struggling with it, the realness of it,” he said. “It gets dark, because disability is dark and life is dark — I go to the intense places and talk about dark things, and comedy is the best way to do that. If you can make people laugh, you can teach them something.”

The services available in Duluth — public transportation and private or nonprofit transportation — is spotty and doesn’t make it easy for people with disabilities to get where they want to go, when they want to go. “I’ve been organizing my schedule to attach to others’ work-life schedule,” Brandon said. A van could provide the independence many take for granted.

Christina acknowledges that the GoFundMe has an ambitious goal. But she and Brandon explained that buying a new van with built-in safety features would help available government grants (which can’t be used for vehicle purchases) go farther on other modifications. 

Brandon says if he were able to travel at will, he’d be doing comedy shows all over. “It goes to the core of the issue — some people have inherited wealth and some have inherited power structures, but for those who haven’t, the way to build those institutions is by working together.”