Minnesota nurses return to work Thursday following 3-day strike

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Nurses are returning to work across Minnesota Thursday morning after picketing for the past three days.

However, hospitals and the Minnesota Nurses Association, the union representing the nurses, don’t appear much closer to reaching a deal.

The MNA previously called for pay raises of nearly 30% over the course of 3 years at all hospital groups, but now say that request was dropped down to 24.5% over three years for one group. MNA officials didn’t immediately specify which group had lowered their request.

Hospitals had previously offered less than half of that, with 12%, however, they haven’t responded to the new offer from the nurses.

Despite putting their scrubs back on Thursday morning, nurses say their fight will continue. Other than pay, the MNA says nurses are also asking for contract language that promises better staffing and workplace safety.

“We’re just short constantly, like every shift every day. They’re gonna try to get us to stay an extra Friday night. I worked 16 hours overnight. I went home, I slept for four hours, I came back and worked another 12,” said Jeff Blume of Methodist Hospital.

Thursday morning, the Twin Cities Hospital Group – which represents four providers – stated their hospitals are welcoming back nurses, but “will absorb tens of millions of dollars in direct costs associated with the nurses’ union strike”, adding “these are dollars that now won’t be available for re-investment in health care services for our community or the wages of our team members, including nurses.”

The healthcare providers said Thursday they will be paying the nurses who traveled to Minnesota for the full five days they had agreed to in a contract.

The hospital group also said the MNA rejected mediation, and states the MNA’s claims of a lock-out on Thursday are false, adding “nurses will begin returning to work as needed as shifts come on.”

As previously reported Wednesday, the Twin Cities Hospital Group said they’re still deeply disappointed in the MNA’s decision to strike, and that they remain committed to reaching a fair agreement.

The majority of hospitals are planning on starting negotiations next week.