Duluth hospital nurses to hold strike voteby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Union nurses at two Duluth hospital systems are scheduled to hold a strike vote later this week in a contract dispute that prompted a one-day nurse's strike in the Twin Cities last June.
St. Luke's Hospital and its nurses decided last week to meet with a federal mediator Monday. The Minnesota Nurses Association represents over 400 St. Luke's nurses.
Meanwhile, St. Mary's-Duluth Clinic (SMDC) and its 900 nurses have no talks scheduled after a marathon session last Thursday. Similar to the Twin Cities, staffing levels are a key sticking point for Duluth hospitals.
The union is recommending SMDC nurses reject the latest contract offer and approve a one-day strike. SMDC President Dr. Tom Patnoe said the hospital made a good offer.
"My hope is that our nurses, who are very valued members of our care team, will inform themselves and vote with their conscience, and we can avoid a strike," Patnoe said.
The union will hold a vote Wednesday that could approve a one-day strike at both facilities, but union spokesman Steve Strand said the vote does not guarantee a strike.
"The nurses will vote to either take the last best final offer, or to, if they vote 'no' to that offer, they are authorizing the negotiating team to give notice to have a one-day strike," Strand said.