Nurses Ratify Agreement For Three-Year Contract With Essentia Health
St. Luke's nurses have yet to reach agreement with hospital
DULUTH, Minn. — The Minnesota Nurses Association has accepted the terms of a new three-year contract with Essentia Health, according to a press release from the group.
The previous contract expired on June 30th, and Essentia Health nurses have been working without one since then.
Both Essentia Health and St. Luke’s nurses went on informational strikes this summer to raise public awareness of what they said were concerns over lack of staffing at the facilities.
By accepting the terms, the MNA said the contract retroactively takes effect on July 1st, 2019.
“The Essentia nurses are happy to put this difficult bargaining process behind us,” Chris Rubesch, an Essentia nurse and negotiations team member, said in the press release. “We’re looking forward to focusing on our patients and delivering the top-notch healthcare that Duluth patients deserve.”
The MNA describes the new contract as having protections for nurses from workplace violence, which compensates them before worker’s compensation goes into effect and more pay for the nurses working in the ER in relation to patient demand.
Another stipulation in the contract reimburses student loans for nurses; a two-year degree will be reimbursed by $2,400 and a four-year RN will be reimbursed by $3,600.
Wages will also increase for Essentia Health nurses, which the MNA said is equal to what nurses in Minneapolis-St. Paul agreed to in their recent contract negotiations.
Pay will increase for nurses by 3% in the the first year, 3% in the second year, and 2.25 in the third year of the contract’s lifespan.
“Nurses are also happy that will be working with Essentia on the Vision Northland project,” Rubesch said in the press release. “Nurses will be part of the transition, and we will be able to advise Essentia Health about the plans to create a system to deliver the highest quality healthcare available.”
Meanwhile, contract negotiations continue to bleed into September with St. Luke’s nurses and the hospital. The previous nurses’ contract with St. Luke’s expired on June 30th.
St. Luke’s nurses will hold a bargaining session Wednesday morning at the Duluth Holiday Inn downtown. If no agreement is reached with the hospital, the nurses with consider voting to go on strike.
St. Luke’s reacted with a statement which reads in part:
“We are surprised and disappointed that the union would consider encouraging nurses to strike without exhausting the bargaining process. Nonetheless, we remain committed to negotiating in good faith…”
Two-thirds of nurses must vote in favor of the strike in order for it to be authorized. From there, the negotiating team determines if the strike will happen and for how long.