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Nurses at St. Luke's in Duluth reach tentative contract agreement

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Marchers walk along a picket line
Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association march during informational pickets at St. Luke's hospital in Duluth in August.
Clint Austin | Duluth News Tribune

Nurses at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year labor contract.

The Minnesota Nurses Association reported the agreement came early Saturday after 17 hours of negotiations; a ratification vote is set for Wednesday.

The St. Luke's nurses voted earlier this month to authorize a strike, but the union said Saturday that the strike notice will be withdrawn.

"Nurses are pleased this agreement addresses the staffing crisis and ensures there are enough nurses to care for patients safely," the union said in a statement.

St. Luke’s president and CEO Kevin Nokels said hospital officials have "worked in good faith toward the goal of achieving a contract that is fair to our valued nurses and helps preserve St. Luke’s future as an independent healthcare system.

"We are confident that the MNA membership will vote to ratify the proposed contract so we can move forward together as one care team to provide our patients and communities with outstanding care," Nokels said in a statement.

The two sides had been negotiating the new contract since May; the previous contract expired June 30.

The union said the contract includes wage increases that will bring St. Luke's nurses to parity with nurses at Essentia Health, who ratified their own three-year labor contract earlier this month.

The agreement also includes short-staffing bonuses and measures to address workplace safety, the union said.