Duluth nurses stage informational picket

About 100 nurses and their supporters picketed Duluth's St. Luke's hospital Tuesday afternoon.

The union launched the informational picketing because of little progress in contract negotiations between the nurses and Duluth's two hospital systems.

Cindy Prout, an RN at St. Luke's, says the main issue continues to be nurse to patient staffing ratios.

"Patient safety, patient care is our main issue in negotiations, and we aren't getting to where we need to go in negotiations," said Prout.

St. Mary's-Duluth Clinic nurse Mary Ann Starkovich-Hirsch said some movement in negotiations could happen later this week.

"Our management told us that they were going to work on a staffing plan to counter our proposal," she said. "They're going to present that to us on Thursday."

St. Luke's spokeswoman Marry Greene said in a prepared statement that bargaining continues in good faith. The statement says negotiations must consider St. Luke's patient population, multi-disciplinary approach and the realities of health care in Duluth.

According to a nurses blog post, Duluth RN's have scheduled an Aug. 18 vote on either a new contract or a one-day strike.

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