Essentia, nurse's union reach tentative contract agreement

The tentative agreement comes one day after the union held an informational picket in Duluth.

Kortney Hjerpe of Duluth a registered nurse marches with signs during informational pickets Tuesday at Essentia Health St. Mary's in Duluth. Nurses held the picket to raise awareness about issues they seek to address in new contracts: to increase staff levels and retention rates. (Clint Austin /

Essentia Health and the Minnesota Nurses Association reached a tentative agreement on a three-year labor contract late Wednesday night, Essentia announced in a bargaining update Wednesday.

The Minnesota Nurses Association — the union representing nurses at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Hospital-Superior and Essentia Health-Duluth (Miller-Dwan Building) facilities — must now conduct a ratification vote among its union members.

Chris Rubesch, a member of the MNA negotiating team and a registered nurse at St. Mary's Medical Center, told the News Tribune that the negotiation team recommends members approve the contract.

"We're really happy with the progress that we've made in being able to care for our patients and recruit and retain nurses," Rubesch said.

Rubesch would not discuss terms of the tentative contract Wednesday, but said more details would be released after the union meets with nurses Tuesday.


The tentative agreement comes just one day after nurses from Essentia and St. Luke's hospitals held an informational picket Thursday to bring awareness to ongoing negotiations.

The contract covering St. Luke's nurses is still being negotiated, but the union and hospital will meet again Sept. 9.

Both Essentia and St. Luke's contract ran out on June 30, but terms remain in effect until the new contracts are ratified.

While both Duluth-based health systems are going through separate contract negotiations, nurses have similar issues they seek to address in new contracts: to increase staff levels and retention rates.

Earlier this summer, MNA held another public event when its members showed up to a Duluth City Council meeting . They raised concerns that important issues — like staffing levels — were not being addressed in negotiations.

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