MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A strike that has kept thousands of regular nurses from five Minnesota hospitals for five weeks could be coming to an end after the governor announced a tentative agreement early Tuesday between the nurses’ union and hospital operator Allina Health.
The deal “will allow (nurses) to resume the quality health care that Minnesotans need and deserve,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement after a 17-hour mediation session at his residence in St. Paul.
The 4,800 nurses represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association have been on strike at five Allina Health hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul- area since Labor Day over issues including health insurance and workplace safety.
Rank-and-file association members are expected to vote on the deal Thursday. The nurses rejected a different tentative agreement last week.
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“The nurses have shown remarkable strength and courage to earn improvements in workplace safety, nurse staffing policies, and multi-year contributions to accounts that will ease their transition from their contract health insurance plans to Allina core plans,” nurses association Executive Director Rose Roach said in a statement.
Allina President and CEO Penny Wheeler said in an email to employees Tuesday that the agreement is “fair to our nurses and sustainable for our organization.”
“The day when our nurses will come back to the bedside now feels close at hand,” Wheeler said. “With unanimous support from the union bargaining committee, I have high hopes that our nurses will vote to accept this agreement so that we can begin the return to work process as soon as possible.”
Allina has said it has kept the hospitals running close to normal by hiring more than 1,000 temporary nurses from across the country. The company also said more than 500 nurses have crossed the picket lines to work.