Health care workers across Minnesota revolt against unions

Since mid-July at least four groups of health care workers across the state have either filed union decertification petitions or successfully voted in favor of decertification.

A Mayo Clinic sign in Minneapolis, Minn. (Shutterstock)

Hundreds of health care workers throughout Minnesota have recently voted to cut ties with unions.

Since mid-July at least four groups of health care workers across the state have either filed union decertification petitions or successfully voted in favor of decertification.

On July 19, the National Right to Work Foundation reported that two groups of employees working across multiple departments in the Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, which serves the Brainerd Lakes area, filed to decertify Healthcare Minnesota, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

A few days later, on July 25, registered nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato voted 213-181 to decertify the Minnesota Nurses Association six weeks after filing a petition, which represents 22,000 nurses in total.

Then on Monday, another group of Mayo Clinic workers in St. James voted to end union membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65, which represents 14,000 workers across numerous industries in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

The National Right to Work Foundation assisted with these decertification efforts, as well as several others in multiple U.S. states.

Because Minnesota does not have a right to work law, unions are allowed to force workers to pay dues in order to get or maintain a job. Just over half of U.S. states have adopted a right to work law.

“We should not lose sight that thousands of Minnesota workers are forced to pay union dues, not because they voluntarily choose to, but because they would be fired if they don’t pay up,” Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “It is past time Minnesota joins all of its neighboring states and ensures Minnesota workers have Right to Work protections so all workers can decide for themselves whether to financially support union activities.”

Critics of right to work, however, generally argue that states with those laws tend to have lower wages, higher poverty rates, and fewer insured workers.

“For employers, a union contract with lower turnover and higher employee morale equals higher productivity. By undermining contracts and depressing wages, a ‘right to work’ law will reduce expendable consumer income and hurt productivity,” according to the Minnesota AFL-CIO.