Fairview Health Services struck a tentative deal with 350 psychiatric associates late Monday night, averting further job actions such as the ongoing three-day Allina Health strike.
The contract is the first since the workers voted last fall to join SEIU Healthcare, and it provides an immediate pay bump of about 6% plus a predictable scale of wages and raises for the future. Negotiators said the deal — subject to a majority vote by psych associates — should provide stability and improve recruitment and retention to a dwindling workforce.
"So many people have experienced mental health issues themselves or to a loved one, especially during the pandemic. Raising wages and getting a first contract will mean better care for our patients," said Jenny Webster, a negotiator and psych associate for 20 years at M Health Fairview's University of Minnesota Medical Center.
The progress came as more than 130 hospital mental health workers continued their three-day strike of Allina Health. They similarly voted to join SEIU last fall and are seeking a first contract that provides an immediate pay bump plus scheduled raises, as well as additional safety measures for workers who deal with a volatile patient population.
Fairview psych associates and Allina senior mental health coordinators are college-educated professionals who work under nurse supervision to provide therapeutic care and day-to-day support for patients in emergency rooms and inpatient psychiatric units.
The Fairview workers also went on strike for one day in May. Their tentative agreement establishes a grievance procedure for contract violations and a committee to discuss safe conditions for one-on-one assignments with high-risk patients.
The profession is facing a worsening shortage; 20% of psychiatric technician jobs were vacant at the end of 2021, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.