4,800 Nurses, Hospitals Reach Agreement After Month-Long Strike

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Union officials representing 4,800 nurses in Minnesota came to a tentative agreement with Allina Health Monday, ending a strike that began on Labor Day in early September.

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and representatives of Allina Health met Monday at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, Minn. At the request of Gov. Mark Dayton. After 17 hours of negotiations, the two sides came out with a tentative deal. (RELATED: 4,800 Nurses Launch Strike Over Healthcare Changes)

Gov. Dayton and his Lt. Gov. Tina Smith have been meeting with both parties since the strike commenced, along with federal mediators. The governor went into Mondays meeting asking both sides to stay at the table until an agreement was reached.

At approximately 4:30 a.m. CT Tuesday, Dayton and Smith announced that a deal had been reached. “The two sides have successfully negotiated a tentative agreement. We thank the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health for working to reach this tentative agreement, which will allow them to resume the quality health care that Minnesotans need and deserve,” the governor and lieutenant governor said in a joint statement.

The strike was over numerous disagreements between management and the nurses, but the most contentious issue was Allina Health’s plan to switch nurses from a union-only health care plan to the plan that currently covers all other Allina employees. The union asserted that Allina wanted to shift too many new costs onto nurses, without adequate compensation. Allina said that they would transition the nurses to the new plans by 2020, a timetable that the union was not willing to accept.

The deal phases out nurse-only insurance plans completely by the end of 2018 and in return Allina will make additional contributions to HRA/HSA accounts in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

The agreement includes the creation of a “Charge Nurses Assignment Task Force,” which will evaluate how charge nurses take patient assignments. 24-hour security in the Emergency Department was also promised to nurses as part of the new arrangement.

“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,” Rose Roach, executive director of the MNA, told reporters.

The strike affected five hospitals and approximately 4,800 nurses. The deal is still tentative, and must pass a membership vote which is expected to take place Thursday.

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