MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Nurses Association has accepted an offer from six Twin Cities hospital systems to hold early contract negotiations.

The two sides agreed to limit the talks to wages only. The current contract with union nurses expires June 1, 2013. If an agreement is not reached by Dec. 25 of this year, the hospitals and the union would return to normal contract negotiations and all terms would be up for consideration.

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The contract covers 12,000 nurses at Allina, Children’s, Fairview, HealthEast, North Memorial and Park Nicollet hospitals.

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In a statement, the Twin Cities hospitals say an early contract settlement would be in patients’ best interests.

The union says it looks forward to a contract that will be “beneficial and satisfactory” to nurses.

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