Nurses and hospitals return to the bargaining table

Strike signs wait in MNA hallways
A nurse walks by signs used for a previous strike after voting at the Minnesota Nurses Association headquarters in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 21, 2010. The 12,000 nurses representing 14 Twin Cities hospitals are voting today to authorize an open-ended strike.
Jeffrey Thompson

Negotiators for 14 Twin Cities hospitals and 12,000 nurses returned to the bargaining table on Tuesday, one week ahead of a scheduled strike.

The Minnesota Nurses Association last Friday filed a 10-day notice setting a July 6 strike date. Previous talks broke down leading to a 24-hour walkout by the nurses union earlier this month.

Union officials confirmed the two sides returned to negotiations at around 1 p.m. Tuesday, as planned. It is unclear how long the talks could last -- no end time has been set.

Spokespeople for the hospitals and the union both declined to comment on the negotiations.

Staffing levels are the main sticking point. The union is seeking fixed nurse-to-patient ratios, calling it a matter of patient safety. But the hospitals say that would raise costs without improving the quality of care.

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