- Unionized workers at Mayo Clinic’s Albert Lea hospital in Minnesota were barred from returning to work following a one-day strike, the Star Tribune reports.
- Prior to Tuesday’s strike, Mayo warned SEIU Healthcare Minnesota that it would replace the 79 nursing assistants, housekeepers, sterile processing and utilities and management workers with temporary workers on seven-day contracts if they if went through with plans for a strike, according to Modern Healthcare.
- Also shut out were six skilled maintenance workers who haven’t seen a new labor contract in several years, Becker’s Hospital Review reports. Negotiations are stalled over disagreement on employee benefits.
The standoff is likely to intensify local discontent over Mayo’s decision to consolidate services at Albert Lea with a facility 25 miles away in Austin, Minn.
In September, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson wrote to Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy asking him to delay the move, which was first announced in June. Noseworthy declined, saying that the consolidation, while unpopular, would “serve the best interests of our patients.”
Mayo Clinic is not the only hospital to face a potential employee walkout this year. In July, managers at Tufts Medical Center in Boston refused to let 1,200 nurses return to working following a one-day strike. As with Mayo Clinic, the hospital had contracted with temporary workers.
Benefits are often a thorn in labor negotiations, but burnout is also a serious problem for nurses and doctors, as well as support staff. A recent study in the Annals of Family Medicine found primary care doctors spend nearly six hours a day on EHR-related tasks. Of those hours, 4.5 are during clinic hours and 1.4 are after work.
The strain is causing many doctors to seek a better work-life balance or even consider leaving the profession. In an American Medical Association survey released last month, one in five doctors said they plan to reduce their clinical work time in 2018 and about one in 50 plan to opt for a new career outside medicine.