Nurses picket

Minnesota Nurses Association members staged an informational picket outside Children’s Minnesota in St. Paul last month. The union reached an agreement Friday after a 21-hour negotiating session.

MINNEAPOLIS — Nurses at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis and St. Paul say they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with the health system.

The agreement came after a 21-hour negotiating session, and after nurses voted Thursday to authorize a strike. The tentative agreement cancels that strike authorization vote.

The Minnesota Nurses Association reported that the tentative contract includes a cap on the rate of cost increase for the most comprehensive health insurance plan offered to nurses; employees won’t be asked to cover more of the cost of rate hikes than Children’s Minnesota does.

“Nurses are happy that Children’s recognized that the cost of insurance is a concern that affects the hospital’s competitiveness of attracting and retaining nurses,” Michelle Cotterell, a sedation nurse at the Children’s Minneapolis campus, said in a Minnesota Nurses Association news release. “Nurses will work with hospital management to address the rising costs of insurance together.”

The contract also includes wage increases of 3 percent for the first two years, and 2.25 percent for the third year.

Nurses at Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis and St. Paul will vote next Thursday on whether to ratify the new contract.

“We are pleased that we have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with MNA nurses,” Katie Penson, Children’s senior director of clinical services, critical care, said in a news release. “Children’s has come to the bargaining table each time in good faith, and both sides have accomplished a lot over the last several bargaining sessions. We have improved workplace safety, boosted wages, and agreed to improvements on other issues, recognizing the important work nurses do for Children’s every day.”

The contract dispute at Children’s has been part of a much larger round of nurse’s union negotiations with six Twin Cities area health systems. About 5,000 Alina Health nurses staged two strikes beginning in June of 2016 and ending in October of that year.

Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard at KZSE 91.7 FM in the Rochester area, or go online to MPRnews.org

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