Essentia Health has reached a tentative deal with the union representing 96 of its employees in Deer River, averting a strike that had been planned for Thursday and Friday.

The agreement was reached Monday evening, Essentia spokesman Louis St. George III said.

It covers employees of Essentia Health-Deer River and nursing home represented by the Service Employee International Union. Among them are nursing assistants, nutrition service assistants, home health aides, pharmacy, lab, surgical and radiological techs and maintenance, environmental services and laundry staff.

In a news release, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said the ratification vote will take place on Jan. 9. The union announced last week that its members had approved the two-day strike, saying the two sides had bargained nine times since August without reaching a deal.

But the union's bargaining team is recommending a "yes" vote on the deal that was reached on Monday, according to the news release.

"We all — patients, members and the Deer River community — win with a yes vote on this tentative agreement," said bargaining team member Kristi Griffen, a cook who has worked at Essentia Health-Deer River for almost nine years.