Three Twin Cities health systems reach tentative contracts with their nurses

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Three Twin Cities health systems reached tentative contracts with their nurses after HealthEast agreed Tuesday to allow nurses to close unsafe or understaffed units and Fairview Health and Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park agreed to pay raises and other benefits.

Nurses will vote on the contracts this month, but negotiators with their union, the Minnesota Nurses Association, said they addressed key issues, including protections against workplace violence.

“We have a contract that values the nurses, that addresses all of the issues that were very near and dear to our hearts,” said Lori Christian, an oncology infusion nurse at Methodist who was part of the bargaining committee.

One concession was giving the hospital more flexibility to cancel nurses’ shifts when they’re not needed due to low patient numbers, she said.

Andrea Mokros, a spokeswoman for five of the negotiating hospital systems, praised the deals: “These agreements represent advances in workplace safety, wages and other key issues, and allow us to continue to provide the very best care to patients every day together.”

The deals follow a tentative contract reached Saturday by Children’s Minnesota and the nurses at its Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals, who had voted only two days earlier to authorize a strike due largely to contract differences over health insurance.

Tuesday’s agreements show how talks at one hospital influenced the other. All four tentative three-year deals offered the same wage increases.

Last month, Methodist and its nurses agreed to terms that sought to protect and support nurses who were assaulted by confused or aggressive patients. All of the other hospital groups followed suit.

HealthEast nurses gained authority in this contract that nurses already had at other Twin Cities hospitals: the ability to close hospital units to new patients if they felt they were understaffed or unsafe.

The final term in Fairview’s negotiations on Tuesday was the addition of roughly 20 nurses specializing in cath lab/interventional radiology services into the union contract.

Negotiations also took place Tuesday between nurses and Allina Health, but no deals were announced. Talks are ongoing between nurses and North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale as well.

 

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