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'Strong' agreement reached to avoid strike at HealthPartners clinics

The strike was due to start on Wednesday.

Union leaders and HealthPartners have reached a tentative contract deal that could avert a strike that was due to start on Wednesday.

A vote taken by 1,800 staff from 30 HealthPartners clinic had set them on a course for action, but it has been shelved after a marathon negotiating session.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota announced that it had reached an agreement at 3 a.m., calling off the strike with a little over 24 hours to spare.

The new deal includes wage increases of 7.5 percent over three years, which are retroactive, and protecting the "Classic" health plan benefits that workers currently have.

Also protected from any cuts or changes are overtime pay provisions.

The union represents staff at HealthPartners that includes nurses, dental assistants, midwives and nurse practitioners.

In a statement, Nancy Wickoren, a member of the SEIU bargaining team, said: "After months of negotiations, and an overwhelming strike vote, we were able to land on a strong tentative agreement for a new contract that maintains excellent health care benefits.

"As in any negotiation, we didn't get everything we wanted. But we are very proud of how our membership stood up together and fought back huge cuts and cost shifts to health care and overtime pay that management had insisted on for months."

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