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Minnesota nurses reach tentative contract, averting strike



FILE - Angela Becchetti, a registered nurse from Abbott Northwestern- Alina, speaks at a press conference announcing the intent for the nurses to strike Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022 at the Minnesota Nurses Association in St. Paul, Minn. (Alex Kormann/Star Tribune via AP)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The union representing Minnesota nurses announced Tuesday that it has reached tentative contract agreements with 15 hospitals in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas, averting a strike that was scheduled to begin Sunday.

The tentative agreements, which still need a final vote, would include language to address chronic hospital understaffing, the Minnesota Nurses Association said. The agreements also include pay raises of 18% over three years for nurses in the Twin Cities area and 17% for nurses in the Duluth area.

“For years, hospital executives have been pushing nurses out of the profession by under-staffing our units and under-valuing our nurses,” Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association and an intensive care nurse at North Memorial Medical Center, told the Star Tribune. “This tentative agreement will help to keep nurses at the bedside.”

If deals had not been reached, the strike would have begun on Dec. 11 and lasted until Dec. 31 at most of the involved hospitals. It would have cost hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars to stay open without regular nurses. Children’s Hospital was planning to cut its intensive care capacity in half during the strike and possibly transfer critically ill patients out of state.

Allina Health, which reached tentative contracts for nurses at Abbott Northwestern, Mercy and United hospitals, said in a statement that it “is pleased with the settlement, which reflects the priorities of both parties and is fair and equitable to our employees, patients and communities. We are thankful to be able to return our full attention to caring for the community at this time of increased illness and demand.”

In September, about 15,000 Minnesota nurses went on strike for three days in hopes of motivating hospital leadership to improve offers on pay, workplace violence prevention and staffing levels. Allina Health alone spent $23 million extra to keep hospitals open during that strike.

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