Duluth nurses vote to approve contractby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A second vote by Duluth nurses Friday night officially ended a long-running labor dispute between the Minnesota Nurses Association and two hospitals.
About 900 nurses voted to accept a new contract with SMDC/Essentia Health. Earlier this week about 450 nurses at St. Luke's also ratified a new contract.
Both agreements give nurses an increased role in determining staffing levels. At SMDC, nurses will be able to close a unit to admissions if they feel it's too busy.
Union organizer Dan Engelhart says this is the first contract these nurses have had that allows them to advocate for better patient care.
"The nurses are thrilled to have gotten this contract. It was a long, hard fight and the nurses were engaged like never before, and to have been able to get this contract, particularly after a 30-hour negotiation session to end it all," he said.
More than 95 percent of nurses voted to approve the contract.
Both votes averted potential strikes that had been approved by nurses union members.