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Essentia reaches tentative agreement with Moose Lake MNA nurses

Minnesota Nurses Association members at St. Luke's Lake View Hospital will vote Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike.

Nurses and supporters hold a rally.
Nurses and their supporters listen to a speaker during the MNA rally Sept. 11.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Minnesota Nurses Association members at St. Luke's Lake View Hospital in Two Harbors will vote Wednesday whether to authorize a potential strike against unfair labor practices. Essentia Health-Moose Lake MNA members were also set to vote on a potential strike on Wednesday but reached a tentative agreement Monday evening.

Nurses at 15 other hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Essentia and St. Luke's hospitals in Duluth and Superior, will also be voting. Nurses at all 16 facilities are bargaining for new contracts.

The 15,000 union nurses at 15 hospitals in Minnesota and Wisconsin will vote Nov. 30. The vote could give MNA leaders the power to authorize another strike, following a three-day strike held in September, as they bargain for contracts.

The 15 hospitals in the Twin Ports and Twin Cities already held a three-day strike in September, but MNA leaders say it did not motivate hospitals to settle contracts. They have been in negotiations since March. Lake View nurses' contracts ended Sept. 30.

Moose Lake nurses had been bargaining for an initial contract since Essentia bought Mercy Hospital in 2020. The nurses voted to authorize a strike in September with the Twin Cities and Twin Ports nurses, but did not carry out the strike "out of an abundance of caution," according to MNA First Vice President Chris Rubesch, because they were still trying to settle an initial contract, while the rest of the hospitals are renewing contracts.

As part of the tentative agreement with Moose Lake, the MNA negotiating committee has agreed to recommend ratification and will hold a ratification vote on or before Dec. 9.


"Essentia Health is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with our MNA-represented nurses in Moose Lake," read a statement from Essentia Health about the tentative agreement. "Both parties worked hard at the bargaining table in pursuit of a contract that benefits our nurses, our organization and — most importantly — our patients. This outcome exemplifies what is possible through good-faith negotiations."

MNA stated the strike vote comes as contracts remain unsettled while nurses struggle with understaffing, unsafe working conditions and poor staff retention. Both Lake View and Moose Lake nurses held informational pickets earlier this year to bring attention to their concerns.

If at least two-thirds of MNA members vote in favor of a strike Wednesday, MNA leaders would have the authority to give hospitals a 10-day notice before striking. In a news conference earlier this month, MNA President Mary Turner said the details of the strike, including dates and duration, would be decided and announced after Wednesday's vote.

This story was updated at 9:20 p.m., Monday, Nov. 28, with information from Essentia Health about the tentative Moose Lake agreement. It was originally published at 4:32 p.m., Monday, Nov. 28. News Tribune reporter Teri Cadeau contributed to this report.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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