Dayton to nurses and hospitals: “Work it out”

Gov. Dayton says he thinks the Minnesota Nurses Association and hospitals across Minnesota need to get to the table and negotiate a deal on a nursing staffing bill. Dayton addressed the issue in remarks to a noontime meeting of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

“We want hospitals and nursing homes and others to be properly staffed, and there are probably better ways to achieve that than some arbitrary number which does have unintended consequences,” Dayton said. “I continue to say to both sides, work it out.”

Dayton suggested one idea would be to create a business/labor council that has an equal number of members. He said a similar council that deals worker’s compensation ensures that any proposal that moves forward has support from both business and labor.

The Minnesota Nurses Association is pushing for a bill that would eventually establish a set nurse staffing ratio in hospitals. The union says the bill would ensure patient safety. Hospital officials say staffing ratios would result in added costs and that it’s not the Legislature’s role to dictate how hospitals are run.

The bill seemed to hit a roadblock in the Minnesota House when Health and Human Services Policy Committee Chair Tina Liebling said last week that she wouldn’t hold a hearing on the bill unless the union and hospitals started to compromise. The Rochester Democrat has now scheduled a hearing on the bill for Friday. Liebling declined comment when asked about her decision to hold a hearing on the bill.

No committees in the Minnesota Senate have held hearings on the bill.

Several supporters of the legislation say committee hearings would help the union and the hospitals reach an agreement on the issue.