Nurses at St. Luke's in Duluth have scheduled a strike-authorization vote after a marathon negotiating session failed to result in a new contract.

Representatives of the Minnesota Nurses Association and hospital administration met for 18 hours Monday and into early Tuesday without reaching an agreement, MNA officials said.

The parties will return to bargaining table Wednesday, but the nurses have officially scheduled the strike vote for Thursday. A two-thirds majority vote from membership would allow the negotiating team to decide when, and for how long, any strike would occur.

"Our negotiating team felt that management was not making any significant movement or intent to come to an agreement," said Pete Boyechko, a St. Luke's home health care nurse who serves on the union's negotiating team.

"Our goal is to get a deal. We want to work out a deal that's beneficial to the hospital, beneficial to our nurses and beneficial to our patients. So we are holding a strike vote on Thursday, and we are taking it to our nurses, who have indicated fairly clearly in the past that they support whatever it takes to protect our patients and to protect our profession."

Boyechko said most of the issues come down to staffing levels, with disagreements including scheduling shortages and on-call procedures.

Hospital officials characterized the strike threat as premature.

"St. Luke’s has not made our final proposal on wages, PTO, extra shift bonuses, student loan repayment or any other open issue in this negotiation," said Sue Hamel, vice president and chief nursing officer. "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 to achieve a fair contract that advances recruitment, retention and safe staffing, and are hopeful that will happen at our next session."

The previous contract expired June 30, but terms have remained in effect as the parties have negotiated a new deal.

If a strike is authorized, it's not clear when, or if, it would occur. The nurses would be required to provide a 10-day notice before any strike.