As many as 15,000 nurses in Minnesota are set to strike on Dec. 11 if no agreement is reached with hospital executives on a fair labor contract, the Minnesota Nurses Association said Thursday. 

“At the same time hospital CEOs tell nurses and patients there is no money to retain staff and prioritize care, executives are taking million-dollar raises and pursuing corporate expansions that put community access to affordable care at risk,” first vice president of the nurses’ union Chris Rubesch said in a statement.  

The Minnesota Nurses Association on Thursday announced that it had voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize the strike set the deadline for what would be it second massive walk-out this year, impacting 16 hospitals in Minneapolis-St. Paul and throughout the state. 

Thousands went on a three-day strike back in September in what was said to be the largest private-sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history.  

In some places, the new strike is set to expire at the end of the month, while others have no end date. 

The nurses’ union says workers have been negotiating with hospital executives for eight months and have been working without contracts since the summer. 

Hospital executives are getting boosts to their own salaries, but have offered nurses low wage increases, the union says, and issues with short staffing and poor nurse retention are exacerbating working conditions. 

“Nurses are fighting to win contracts that will help nurses stay on the job to provide patients with the exceptional care they deserve. Hospital CEOs with million-dollar salaries can afford to put Patients Before Profits in our hospitals and to do right by Minnesota nurses,” Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner said.  

Nurses have been leaving the frontlines amid burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing staffing issues and a rise in workplace violence, according to a National Nurses United poll released earlier this year.

More than two-thirds of nurses in an American Association of Critical-Care Nurses survey released last month said they plan to leave their current positions in the next three years, nearly a quarter of which said they plan to retire or leave the profession altogether. 

A handful of medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, warned President Biden last month that overloaded emergency departments throughout the U.S. are sparking an “exodus of excellent physicians, nurses and other health care professionals” from the field.