Allina Health reached a tentative contract with its hospital nurses around 3 a.m. Wednesday, joining three other hospital groups that settled in the current bargaining cycle and increasing the likelihood that it will avoid the strikes that cost it $149 million in prolonged negotiations three years ago.
Allina joined with the HealthEast and Fairview hospital systems, and Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, which reached tentative three-year agreements with their hospital nurses on Tuesday.
Nurses will vote on the contracts later this month, but negotiators with their union, the Minnesota Nurses Association, said they addressed key issues, including protections against workplace violence.
"We have a contract that values the nurses, that addresses all of the issues that were very near and dear to our hearts," said Lori Christian, an oncology infusion nurse at Methodist who was part of the bargaining committee.
Union negotiators gained pay bumps for Methodist nurses acting in preceptor, or mentor, roles, but gave the hospital more flexibility in canceling nurses' shifts when they're not needed due to low patient numbers.
"These agreements represent advances in workplace safety, wages and other key issues, and allow us to continue to provide the very best care to patients every day together," said Andrea Mokros, a spokeswoman for all of the negotiating hospital systems other than Allina.
The deals follow a tentative contract reached Saturday by Children's Minnesota and the nurses at its Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals, who had voted only two days earlier to authorize a strike due largely to contract differences over health insurance.
The latest agreements show how talks at one hospital can influence the others. All tentative three-year deals offered the same wage increases. Last month, Methodist and its nurses agreed to terms on protecting and supporting nurses who were assaulted by confused or aggressive patients. All of the other hospital groups followed suit.
A final issue for HealthEast nurses on Tuesday was gaining authority in their contract to close hospital units to new patients if they felt they were understaffed or unsafe. Nurses at other hospitals already had this authority.
A final term in Fairview's negotiations on Tuesday was the addition of roughly 20 nurses specializing in cath lab/interventional radiology services into the union contract.
No deal has been set yet between nurses and North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, which didn't have any negotiating sessions scheduled Tuesday.