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5 things to know today: Union decertification, Assault records, Blatnik Bridge, Fargo march, Blue beavers

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Wikipedia Commons
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1. Nurses at Mayo Clinic in Mankato seeking union decertification from MNA

The Minnesota Nurses Association could soon see a decrease in membership from a Mayo Clinic Health System located in Mankato.

A group of nurses at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato filed a petition requesting an end to the union on the grounds of union officials holding a monopoly in bargaining powers over the nurses. The petition itself was filed by Brittany Burgess, a nurse who works at the Mayo Clinic health care facility.

Burgess declined to comment for this story.

Kylie Thomas, communications associate for the National Right to Work, spoke on what drove these nurses to file this petition for union decertification.

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“The request is seeking to end MNA union officials’ monopoly bargaining powers at the Mayo Clinic. These nurses clearly believe they would be better off without the union," Thomas said. "It is worth pointing out that different workers at the same workplace may come to the conclusion that they want to be free of the union for other reasons.”

A minimum of 30% of the employees at Health System in Mankato are needed for the vote to de-certify themselves from the MNA. Burgess was able to rally around 200 of her coworkers to participate in the voting process, which eclipses the minimum 30% threshold for a vote to happen.

Read more from Forum News Service's Theodore Tollefson

2. Minnesota Supreme Court protects sexual assault victim counseling records

The Minnesota Supreme Court meets at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017.
The Minnesota Supreme Court meets at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017.
Pool photo / Leila Navidi<br/>

The Minnesota Supreme Court has reinforced protection for sexual assault victims' counseling records in criminal cases, clarifying an existing state law protecting client-counselor communications and documents.

In an opinion issued Wednesday, July 13, Justice Natalie E. Hudson ruled that even in a criminal proceeding, a victim’s right to keep counseling records confidential is protected under state law. The ruling blocks a lower court's order for a counseling center to turn over its records about a victim in a sexual assault case. The defense had requested a judge review the records for information relevant to the case.

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Hudson said it was "clearly unreasonable" for the center to comply with the subpoena as it would be banned by a 1982 state law. Privacy of counseling records is key to protecting and helping victims, she wrote, and state law is clear disclosing records would require the victim’s consent.

“To seek a counselor’s assistance, victims — who may face serious safety concerns and other vulnerabilities — must feel comfortable sharing personal information,” she said in the ruling. “Failure to ensure victim privacy and confidentiality could therefore result in a chilling effect on the willingness of victims to seek support.”

Read more from Forum News Service's Alex Derosier

3. Duluth's Blatnik Bridge will be rebuilt, likely to feature new Wisconsin connector

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The John A. Blatnik Bridge, also known as the High Bridge, connects Duluth and Superior.
Steve Kuchera / 2021 file / Duluth News Tribune

Residents have until July 21 to address new details about the future of the Blatnik Bridge, which has been targeted for replacement by transportation departments from both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Among the latest developments related to the estimated $1.8 billion project: The bridge won’t be refurbished. Instead, it will be a full replacement beginning in 2028, with construction lasting five or six years, said Marc Bowker, Eau Claire-based project manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“The actual rehabilitation we have ruled out,” Bowker said. “It doesn’t become financially feasible to rehabilitate the entire structure.”

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Transportation officials are also recommending that a new bridge exits onto U.S. Highway 53 South, instead of Hammond Avenue in Superior. In order to do so, some existing businesses and residences in the city’s north side will need to be relocated, officials said.

Read more from Forum News Service's Brady Slater

4. Crowd marches together again in Fargo over abortion ruling

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Some of the young crowd of more than 100 people posed for a group photo at Fargo City Hall on Wednesday night after marching through the streets of downtown Fargo protesting anti-abortion rulings.
Barry Amundson / The Forum

Mercedes Brown of Fargo said she helped organize an abortion rights rally and march through downtown Wednesday, July 13, to give people a chance to have their voices heard.

About 100 people met at Fargo City Hall and then marched loudly through downtown to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade last month by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The crowd chanted "hands off our bodies" and "abortion is health care" with many also holding up signs.

Brown said the tone of the first gathering in protest was one of rage, anger and sadness over the ruling, citing added concerns over gun, Native American, gay and poverty issues.

"We wanted people to be given a chance to speak. We didn't want it to be just us," Brown said, adding discussions were had about voting this November.

She urged the young crowd to write to their state legislators in North Dakota, which is set to ban all abortions starting later this month.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

5. Why are blue beavers popping up in Moorhead?

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A fiberglass beaver sits Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at the southeast corner of W. H. Davy-Memorial Park at Eighth Street and First Avenue North, Moorhead. Artists Catie Miller and Emily Williams-Wheeler produced five of the sculptures for the city.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum

Some curious critters have popped up in a Moorhead park that may have residents asking what blue beavers are doing in their neighborhood.

The five blue beavers can be seen swimming through the grass at W.H. Davy-Memorial Park at the intersection of First Avenue and Seventh Street North.

The recently installed sculptures are titled "Breaking the Surface" and were created by artists Catie Miller and Emily Williams-Wheeler, the city of Moorhead said in a Wednesday, July 13, release.

In June 2021, the city approved the proposal for the sculptures as part of an initiative to add more public art. "Breaking the Surface" is one of the first large public art installations in Moorhead, the city said.

In the proposal, Miller and Williams-Wheeler said beavers were chosen because of the proximity to the Red River and because "beavers symbolize persistence and hard work, values that define the residents of Moorhead."

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Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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A select rundown of stories found on InForum.