Albert Lea, MN (KROC AM News) -  For the first time in its history, Mayo Clinic faced a strike Tuesday.

About 80 SEIU union workers at Mayo’s Albert Lea campus walked off the job to protest the lack of a new labor contract.

The strike attracted several politicians who are running for governor, including Rochester state Rep. Tina Liebling. All spoke in support of the striking workers.

Gov. Dayton later issued a statement asking both sides to work out a new agreement.

“I deplore this extremely unfortunate situation. I urge both sides to resolve their differences immediately, for the sake of the workers, the patients, and the hospital’s standing in the community.”

The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith:

“For the sake of workers and their families, negotiations should resume immediately to resolve this unfortunate situation. Locking out workers who are trying to provide for their families and celebrate the holidays with their children is simply unacceptable. This approach is not in the best interests of their patients, workers, or the Albert Lea community.”

One of the major hangups is a plan by Mayo to allow it to modify employee benefits in a labor contract without first getting approval from the union.The two sides are scheduled to meet for another negotiating session Dec 28th.

Meanwhile, SEIU members and community supporters are planning to picket in front of the Mayo Gonda Building in Rochester Thursday from 2:00-4:00 PM.

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