More than 12,000 hospital nurses in Minnesota have voted to accept a new three-year contract and not go out on strike, ending a contentious labor-management dispute that threatened to boil over into one of the largest strikes in healthcare history.
Workers at 14 hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who belong to the Minnesota Nurses Association voted to accept a wage structure that was substantially the same as their nonunion peers, with a total of 3% pay raises over three years.
The union said the contracts were approved “overwhelmingly” by the nurses, but declined to release the vote totals. The new contract went into effect upon ratification and remains in place until May 31, 2013.
In negotiations with federal officials, the hospitals agreed to drop their demands that union members reopen their pension plans to adjust benefits, while the union agreed to press its case for strict nurse-patient ratios through inter-departmental staffing committees that already exist. The union also said in a news release that it “fought off” hospitals' attempts to give management the ability to reassign RNs “to any unit at any hospital at any time.”