In what is likely the largest nurses strike in American history, 15,000 Minnesota nurses today went on strike for better pay and benefits after working short-staffed through the pandemic. Hospital CEOs insist they can’t afford the increases: “They left with wage demands at 29 percent to 30 percent, which we’ve told them repeatedly is unreasonable and is unaffordable,” their chief negotiator told Minnesota local news.

But the five CEOs of the largest hospitals now pleading poverty have raked in a payout of more than $25 million over the three most recently available tax years. In just the last year alone, they paid themselves the following:

  • David Herman, CEO of Essentia Health: $2,697,603
  • James Hereford, CEO of M Health Fairview: $2,621,429
  • Andrea Walsh, CEO of HealthPartners: $2,444,428
  • Marc Gorelick, CEO of Children’s Minnesota: $1,459,584
  • J. Kevin Croston, CEO of North Memorial: $1,274,710

Meanwhile, nurses in Minneapolis average just $86,690 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The hospitals are also spending millions of dollars on extremely costly strike-replacement nurses.

It seems like for hospital CEOs, “unaffordable” is just a code word for “fair compensation.”