Healthcare workers picket for fair wages

Healthcare workers picket for fair wages

Members of the Service Employees International Union are outside Mayo Clinic's Saint Marys campus to push for what they are calling a fair contract for 1,600 healthcare workers

(ABC 6 News) – Members of the Service Employees International Union took to the streets outside Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys campus to push for what they’re calling a fair contract for 1,600 healthcare workers.

These healthcare workers, who serve patients every day, say they have reached a breaking point. After three months of negotiations, they are deeply disappointed with Mayo Clinic’s failure to offer the wages and benefits they say they rightfully deserve.

“The fact that we’ve been bargaining for so long and they’ve barely moved is really insulting to us,” said Hallie Wallace, the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa’s lead bargainer. “We need that $20 minimum wage.”

Since February 29, negotiators have asked for mandatory overtime, better training processes and floating holidays — but wages are the number one issue on everyone’s mind.

“Many of our wages are years behind the market. We have members of my classification that, while working short-staffed every single night, are getting paid less than they would to jump to a local nursing home,” explains Mike Szynall, a PCA at Saint Marys Campus.

Mayo is offering SEIU employees at Saint Marys a 3.5% raise for the first year of the contract and a 1.5% raise for the next two years. This is nowhere near the 6% agreement reached for SEIU employees doing the same jobs at the Mayo Clinic Methodist campus just months ago.

RELATED: UPDATE: 95% of SEIU MN and IA employees supported new deal

Workers say that without high enough wages, the hospital will continue to face short staffing, leading to what they predict will be worse care for patients.

“It’s not just a matter of money, it’s the safety that it compromises to our patients. What’s happening on a daily basis is not being taken seriously,” said Samantha Bright, a Certified Surgical Technologist at Saint Marys Campus.

In response to the picket and ongoing contract negotiations, Mayo Clinic provided ABC 6 News a statement saying:

“We continue to have productive negotiating sessions with SEIU. The union’s public announcement and activity, such as the informational picket, are routine tactics during contract negotiations. We remain committed to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement and will continue to negotiate in good faith.”

Until that agreement is reached, the frontline workers say they won’t give up until Mayo Clinic does what they feel is right for them and their patients.

“We are overworked, we are underpaid. We’re taking care of the patients who need exceptional care, and we do it better than anybody else and we’re so proud of it, and Mayo is top in the nation, but not in compensation,” said Jamie Gully, SEIU President.

Through Wednesday, SEIU employees will vote on whether to end a no strike agreement that’s been in place for 50 years. If passed, they will gain the right to strike in three years.