The three-year agreement is effective July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016, and covers 460 nurses.
"I\’m very pleased that the bargaining unit turned out and ratified the tentative agreement. We still have many day-to-day activities to work on, such as staffing and scheduling, practicing issues to keep our patients safe," said Cindy Prout, RN, a member of the bargaining team.
Nurses came to a tentative agreement with management after just one day of negotiations on April 9 when more than 100 union nurses, family members, and other union members showed up to welcome hospital negotiators to the bargaining table. Some of the union nurses worked at Essentia St. Mary\’s Hospital in Duluth, which also has a contract to negotiate soon.
"The solidarity and support of all of the unions at negotiations was absolutely crucial to get the settlement that we reached. The sea of red was absolutely empowering to those of us at the bargaining table and gave us confidence that we would get the agreement we needed to pass," Prout said.
Both parties agreed prior to entering the negotiations to bargain over wages only. Doing so ensured for both sides that all current language remains intact. The bargaining team recommended that members approve the contract.
This time around, nurses and management settled their contract two months prior to the contract ending as opposed to 2010 when the contract was settled two months after. During that round of talks, nurses also participated in a one-day informational picket of the hospital to draw attention to shortages in staffing levels.
In 2010, nurses won a Letter of Understanding to review the unit staffing grids, which resulted in increased staffing in some units and continues through the 2013 contract.
Reprinted from the MNA website.