Striking nurses, Allina reach tentative deal

Minnesota Nurses
Allina Health nurses protest outside Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis on Sept. 5.
Jim Mone | AP

Updated: 7:06 a.m. | Posted: 6 a.m.

The Minnesota Nurses Association says its strike against Allina Health will end Tuesday.

Allina and the striking nurses reached a tentative agreement on a contract early Tuesday following nearly 17 hours of negotiations. Both sides were brought together by Gov. Mark Dayton at his residence.

"We thank the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health for working to reach this tentative agreement, which will allow them to resume the quality health care that Minnesotans need and deserve," Dayton said in a statement.

Health care coverage had been a major obstacle in the strike. And this agreement appears to have made changes in the nurses health program.

In a statement Allina said the deal phases out nurse-only insurance plans completely by the end of 2018. In return Allina says it will make additional contributions to HRA/HSA accounts in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Additional terms of the three-year deal are expected to be available later Tuesday. Unlike a previous agreement, this one will be presented to rank-and-file nurses with unanimous endorsement, according to a statement from Rose Roach, MNA executive director.

According to Rose's statement, nurses have "earn(ed) improvements in workplace safety, nurse staffing policies, and multi-year contributions to accounts that will ease their transition from their contract health insurance plans to Allina core plans. Nurses have cooperated with easing out of these plans and deserve to be protected through any future benefit reductions by Allina Health, which the company has provided."

Nurses are expected to vote on whether to accept the contract Thursday.

"The day when our nurses will come back to the bedside now feels close at hand. With unanimous support from the union bargaining committee, I have high hopes that our nurses will vote to accept this agreement so that we can begin the return to work process as soon as possible," Penny Wheeler Allina's President and CEO said in a statement.

The hospitals affected by the strike, which began on Labor Day, are Abbott Northwestern and Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis, United in St. Paul, Mercy in Coon Rapids and Unity in Fridley.

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