Workers at eight Twin Cities hospitals reached a tentative contract agreement Wednesday, averting a potential strike later this month.

Hospital negotiators and the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota, which represents 3,500 nursing assistants, technicians and support staff, have been negotiating a contract since January. The current contract had been extended several times.

The union represents workers at Bethesda, Fairview Riverside, Fairview Southdale, Methodist, St. John's, North Memorial and Children's Hospitals in Minneapolis and Children's Hospital in St. Paul.

Details regarding the new contract won't be released until after union members vote next week, according to a union statement released Wednesday.

Union and hospital workers met all day Wednesday -- just one day after 91 percent of union members voting authorized a strike.

According to the union, wages and benefits were at the heart of the standoff, including a proposal by the hospitals that would have increased workers' out-of-pocket costs for health insurance.

"While we did not achieve all that our members deserve for the work we do every day to improve our patients' lives -- by standing together we fought back the most outrageous cuts that would have driven the lowest-paid workers in our hospitals into poverty," said Tee McClenty, the union's chief negotiator.

A spokesman for the hospitals couldn't be reached for comment.