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Minnesota Nurses Union Urges Members to Reject Contract Offer

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 17, 2010

In addition to the SMDC vote, 420 RNs at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth are bargaining for a new contract, but haven't reached an agreement. SMDC nurses have no more negotiating sessions scheduled, but St. Luke's RNs met with management Monday to try to work out an agreement.

Both groups of nurses will vote on Wednesday to either ratify their contract offers or authorize a one-day strike at each hospital.

MNA said Duluth RNs are seeking the same contractual rights to advocate for their patients that Twin Cities nurses already have: First, to be allowed to temporarily close a hospital unit when it is no longer safe to admit additional patients. Second, to be able to refuse additional patient assignments when a nurse's patient load has reached an unsafe level, MNA said in a media release.

"Business executives at SMDC are refusing to allow nurses to do our duty—as dictated by the Minnesota Board of Nursing and our profession itself—of advocating for our patients," Strand says. "What Duluth nurses are asking for is reasonable, and in our negotiations we attempted to bargain in good faith to implement some concessions that would allow the cost to be minimized for the changes necessary. Should nurses in the Northland be treated differently than our counterparts in the Twin Cities when it comes to safety issues? Should our patients, for that matter?"

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