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Letter: Hastings nurses looking for an equal contract

To the editor,

I have been a registered nurse at Regina Medical Center since 2003. After working at Allina’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital for five years, I had moved back to Hastings to raise my family in a small community where I knew friends and family were important to everyday life. I was so impressed at Regina’s commitment to their patients and staff I knew this was going to be a good fit. 

When Allina Health decided to take over Regina in 2013 many of us were excited to have access to resources for our patients that Allina Health would offer.   Allina Health is the largest hospital system in the Twin Cities with $3.2 billion in total revenues in 2012. 

Nurse contract negotiations began in April of 2013 with Regina Medical Center’s administration. After Allina Health took over operations at Regina in September, we continued to negotiate our contract but now as Allina Health employees and under the assumption we would be treated as such.  

Every registered nurse at an Allina Health-owned hospital in the Twin Cities, as well as Buffalo, Cambridge and even River Falls, Wis., receives the Twin Cities Hospitals/Minnesota Nurses Association Pension Plan as well as the option to purchase MNA health insurance plans.  During our negotiations with Allina Health, those same benefits offered to every other Allina owned hospital were not offered to Allina Health Regina nurses in the MNA contract.  

Management negotiators have continually stated “Our position has not is what it is and the proposal we’ve offered is what’s best for Allina Health Regina.”   We view this perspective as an absolute insult to the nursing staff and the profession.  Is Allina Health Regina less of a hospital in how it treats its patients?  Of course not but this is how Allina Health is treating its present nursing staff. 

Recruitment and retention of quality nurses is what Allina Health Regina needs.  What is going to keep current staff from staying here if we can make a short drive to other Allina Health hospitals and receive higher pay, better health insurance options and a pension plan?  We know our community because we are your friends, family, neighbors, customers, parishioners and caretakers. Please support our nurses in receiving an equal contract so we may continue to provide you with quality care today and in the future.