Negotiators for 400 nurses settle with Duluth's St. Luke's hospitalby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — Negotiators for more than 400 registered nurses have reached a tentative contract agreement with Duluth's St. Luke's hospital.
The settlement comes after a grueling all-night negotiation; considered the last bargaining session between the two parties before nurses schedule a one-day strike.
Nurse negotiator Cindy Prout said she was optimistic going into the session, and happy with the outcome.
"We're thrilled," Prout said. "We feel as though we have been able to come to an agreement on those issues that we have been long talking about with regards to staffing; taking a look at staffing patterns; the ability to temporarily delay an admission when a nurse feels her assignment can't accept that."
Hospital Human Resources Director Marla Halvorson was one of the negotiators.
"We are very proud that after this negotiation we reached an agreement that the MNA bargaining team feels it can recommend to its membership, and we are anxiously awaiting the vote," Halvorson said.
Minnesota Nurses Association organizer Dan Engelhart said a vote will be scheduled in about a week, and that negotiators will recommend approval.
The new contract includes provisions on staffing similar to language adopted early this summer by Twin Cities nurses. The contract also contains language giving nurses input into a new code of conduct, a key sticking point in the talks.
The Minnesota Nurses Association is expected to announce soon the date for a one-day strike against Duluth's other hospital, St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Health Systems. Talks between SMDC and its 900 nurses reached an impasse last week.
Engelhart said he hopes the agreement with St. Luke's will help nudge an agreement with SMDC.
"It is clear today that St. Luke's is the leader among the two hospitals in Duluth for allowing nurses to have language that provides safe patient care, and nurses to be advocates for the patients," Engelhart said.
(MPR reporter Stephanie Hemphill contributed to this report.)