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Nurses reach tentative deal with more metro area hospitals

June 19, 2019 12:05 PM

An agreement has been reached in the battle over contracts between metro area hospitals and thousands of nurses.

Late Tuesday night, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) announced it has reached a tentative deal with Fairview, Methodist and HealthEast hospitals. Then, Wednesday morning, MNA announced a tentative deal with Allina Health hospitals, including Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United and Unity.

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"We are very pleased to have reached tentative agreements at Fairview Health Services, HealthEast and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital that are fair and equitable," Andrea Mokros, spokesperson for Twin Cities Hospitals, said in a statement. "These agreements represent advances in workplace safety, wages and other key issues, and allow hospitals and nurses to continue to provide the very best care to patients every day, together."

"Nurses are relieved to get this agreement," Angela Becchetti, a Registered Nurse at Abbott Northwestern and a member of the negotiating team, added after Wednesday morning's announcement. "Nurses' contract gains were almost exclusively focused on provisions that allow nurses to provide safer and higher quality patient care." 

The new contract deals cover the next three years and include pay raises.

Nurses at HealthEast will also be allowed to close units if they decide there isn't enough staff to provide safe care, according to the new deal.

"We deserve fair wages to help nurses keep up with the rising costs of living, and nurses have put up with sub-par pay for the past 10 years," Lori Christian, a registered nurse at Methodist and part of the MNA bargaining team, said in a statement.

The deal for Allina Health hospitals also includes language that protects nurses if they punch out without taking a break, improved attendance policies, shift giveaways, and provisions that give them a voice in hospital process review committees. But, the biggest takeaway is workplace violence language that meets and exceeds what other hospitals agreed to with their nurses. Under the deal, nurses would no longer have to care for a patient who has assaulted them, receive up to three days' pay for serious injuries before worker's compensation pay takes effect, and immediate debriefing after violent incidents to help investigate and prevent future assaults. Allina also put lockdown language into the contract offer, MNA said in a release.

"It took a long time, but we've all finally recognized that workplace violence is an ongoing issue," said Emily Sippola, a Registered Nurse at United and negotiator, in a statement. "This will be considered as pivotal in protecting nurses and patients, and we will continue to address violence in our hospitals moving forward."

Contracts through North Memorial and Allina Health have yet to be settled.

Thursday, nurses at Children's Minnesota will vote on their contract, which was settled last week.

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Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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