Strike Averted: Hospitals, Workers Reach Tentative Deal

The union representing 3,500 hospital employees said it wouldn't reveal the details of the tentative agreement until members had an opportunity to review and vote on them; the deal comes a day after 91 percent of the employees voted to strike.

A day after unionized support staff at eight local hospitals authorized a strike, the workers on Wednesday reached a tentative contract agreement with the hospitals.

The union representing the employees, Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota (SEIU), said Thursday that details of the agreement wouldn't be released until members had an opportunity to review and vote on them. The spokesman representing the eight hospitals couldn't be reached Thursday morning.

“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,” Tee McClenty, SEIU's chief negotiator, said in a statement. “We will keep organizing and fighting the corporations that want to run our non-profit hospitals like for-profit institutions.”

On Monday and Tuesday, 91 percent of the 3,500 union members voted to strike. The tentative agreement was reached after a day-long meeting of negotiations that took place Wednesday.

The workers affected by the tentative agreement include nursing assistants, emergency room technicians, maintenance and foodservice personnel, clerks, and warehouse and environmental services staff.

The affected hospitals are Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, Fairview Riverside Hospital in Minneapolis, Children's Hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul, HealthEast Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, HealthEast St. John's Hospital in Maplewood, North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, and Park Nicollet/Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park.

SEIU and the hospitals had been negotiating since January. The workers' contract had been extended several times but was set to expire Wednesday. The union has said that wages and benefits were the main issues that prompted the contract disagreement with the hospitals. The hospitals had also proposed increasing workers' out-of-pocket costs for health insurance, according to the Star Tribune.

The strike authorization earlier this week didn't signify that a strike was imminent. The union is required to give 10 days' notice before striking.