Nurses ratify contracts at 15 Twin Cities, Duluth hospitals

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota nurses announced Wednesday that they’ve ratified contracts that averted threated strikes at 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul area and Duluth hospitals.

The Minnesota Nurses Association said the 17% to 18% pay increases over three years should boost retention and dissuade burned-out nurses from quitting, but that more work is needed to address worsening staffing shortages.

The deals also include short-term disability benefits and give nurses a say in how staffing levels are set, according to the union.

“With these contracts, the staffing levels set by our hospital executives will never get worse than they are today, as nurses won a new voice in the process and better protections to appeal for the safe staffing levels we need,” Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said. “This is a historic victory for nurses and patients at the bedside, but our work is not done. Nurses will continue fighting to oppose the corporate healthcare policies that threaten our hospital systems and the care our patients deserve.”

RELATED: Hospital systems reach tentative agreements with MNA, avert planned strike

Minnesota hospitals have been under stress this winter as the shrinking pool of nurses collided with rising numbers of patients with COVID-19, influenza and other seasonal illnesses and injuries, the Star Tribune reported.

Health system executives had said a strike at such a vulnerable time would be dangerous and negotiated in marathon sessions last week to reach a deal. The union then called off plans to strike starting this week,

“We believe the contracts are fair and address the priorities of both parties,” Allina Health, which reached contracts for nurses at its Abbott Northwestern, Mercy and United hospitals, said in a statement.

Other hospitals in the Twin Cities with new nursing contracts include Children’s Minnesota, Methodist, North Memorial Health, M Health Fairview Southdale, St. John’s and the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Essentia Health and St. Luke’s in Duluth also reached deals.