Duluth nurses prepare for one-day strikeby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — The union representing more than 900 nurses at Duluth's SMDC Health System will be making plans for a one-day strike after they made little progress at a bargaining session Wednesday.
Nurses describe the discussion with SMDC and a federal mediator as "short and unproductive."
"We were hoping that the hospital would come back with more language that we could live with regarding safe patient care," said nurse negotiator Steve Strand. "We were told that their last best final offer was exactly that. It was their last best final offer."
Strand says there are no additional contract talks planned, and that nurses will meet in the coming weeks to make plans for a one-day strike. Those meetings are most likely after Labor Day. A strike date has yet to be set.
SMDC spokeswoman Kim Kaiser says she regrets the lack of movement, and that the main issue remains the nurses' desire to close admissions to understaffed units.
"Our mission is to serve patients, and we want a process in place where the whole care team makes decisions about not accepting new patients," said Kaiser.
Meanwhile, a contract negotiation session is scheduled next week for 400 nurses who work at Duluth's St. Luke's Hospital.
Union nurses at both hospitals last week overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer, setting the stage for a possible strike.