Allina Health clinicians to form largest group of unionized physicians in US private sector

Hundreds of Allina Health physicians have voted in favor of unionizing, creating what their representation believes to be the largest collection of unionized private-sector physicians in the country.

Among 589 eligible voters, 325 votes were counted for the labor union and 200 against with few challenged ballots, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Alongside the full-time and regular part-time physicians, about 150 nurse practitioners and physician assistants also voted and are eligible for membership. The clinicians will be represented by Doctors Council SEIU Local 10MD, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

“This is a win not only for the doctors that stood together and the supporters who rallied alongside them but also for the patients and the communities they serve,” Doctors Council said in an online post announcing the vote.

The Minnesota and Wisconsin providers deliver primary and urgent care across more than 50 Allina clinics. Their vote comes after more than 100 inpatient physicians at the health system similarly voted to organize under the Doctors Council in March, for which Allina had submitted an appeal.

In a statement released Friday, the Minneapolis-based system said that “while we are disappointed in the decision by some of our providers to be represented by a union, we remain committed to our ongoing work to create a culture where all employees feel supported and valued. Our focus now is on moving forward to ensure the best interests of our employees, patients and the communities we serve.”

Allina clinicians involved in the unionization push told local press that concerns over understaffing, burnout, heavy administrative workloads and care quality contributed to their decision.

"If you look at what happened during COVID, our profession rose to the occasion and kind of committed a miracle," Beth Gunhus, a nurse practitioner and a lead organizer of the vote, told the Star Tribune. "Now it feels like we don't have any support or any of the things we need to go back to day-to-day living."

Allina Health operates 12 hospital campuses and dozens of primary care and urgent care locations in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The nonprofit system has about 8,300 providers in total, according to its website.

Nurses at Allina are already represented by the National Nurses United affiliate Minnesota Nurses Association. Those workers were part of a 15,000-nurse strike in September 2022 that spanned 16 Twin Cities hospitals and yielded new contracts before year-end.