By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A strike that included thousands of nurses in the Twin Cities is finally coming to an end Thursday night.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) overwhelmingly voted to accept a contract offer from Allina, bringing an end to the strike that began on Labor Day, 38 days ago. The strike will officially come to an end on Sunday morning, when nurses return to work.

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The results come after nurses turned down a previous offer by Allina earlier this month.

Voting began at 8 a.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Leadership from the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health agreed to the deal after a nearly 17-hour negotiating session at the Governor’s Mansion earlier in the week. Picket lines at the five Allina hospitals came down Tuesday after union leaders said they supported the latest deal.

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“The nurses left their jobs and their health benefits so they could win workplace safety guarantees, such as better training and around-the-clock security guards in the emergency department,” MNA representative Rose Roach said at a press conference. “They won that for both themselves, and for their patients. While it’s certainly nowhere near what the nurses deserve, nurses can hold their head high…”

Allina CEO Penny Wheeler also showed support for the deal, which says nurse-only insurance plans will phase out completely by the end of 2018.

Allina released a statement following the vote:

“Tonight, the Minnesota Nurses Association announced that Allina Health nurses have voted to ratify the agreement reached with the union earlier this week. We appreciate the nurses’ ratification of the agreement. On Sunday morning, October 16, at the 7 a.m. shift change, Allina Health nurses will return to the bedside, as we continue to provide high-quality care to our patients and communities.”

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About 4,800 nurses were involved in the strike from Abbott Northwestern, Mercy, Phillips Eye Institute, United and Unity hospitals. Those hospitals say 630 of them ultimately crossed the picket line.

John Lauritsen