The weeks-long nurses strike is over.
A majority of nurses voted Thursday to ratify a new contract with Allina Health, ending the unfair labor practices strike that began Sept. 5 and concludes contract negotiations that began earlier this year.
"This contract represents compromise and strength by the nurses," Minnesota Nurses Association Executive Director Rose Roach said in a statement. "While it's nowhere near what nurses deserve, they can hold their heads high."
The Minnesota Nurses Association – which represents the roughly 5,000 nurses who work at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, United Hospital and Unity Hospital – and Allina Health came to a tentative agreement Oct. 11 following a 17-hour mediation session.
Health insurance coverage was the main sticking point during the contract talks, but the two sides also sparred over workplace safety and staffing issues. The nurses agreed to switch over to the Allina's corporate health plan, but guaranteed to provide certain benefits through 2021. (You can read all the details of the agreement here.)
"We are pleased that the contract has been ratified and will return striking nurses to work as quickly as possible," Allina Health said in a statement on its website. "The union is no longer picketing at any of our locations."
Nurses are expected to be off "strike status" by Sunday at 7 a.m., the Minnesota Nurses Association said in a news release.
"The wounds inflicted on the nurses since February will not heal overnight. Nurses have continually felt disrespected and devalued," Roach said, adding she hopes Allina will work to reestablish trust the with nurses.
In a statement Thursday night, Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said:
“Minnesota's nurses are on the front lines of health care, where they work tirelessly and professionally to take care of all of us. We are grateful that the members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have ratified this contract and will return to work soon, and we are grateful this long and painful strike has ended. We again thank the leaders and negotiating teams representing the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health for working so hard to resolve this very challenging dispute.”