MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Nurses Association says the threat of a strike has been withdrawn.

They reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota early Saturday morning. The association says the hospital has agreed to provide nurses with a 3% wage increase over the next two years.

Negotiations came to a head Thursday when nurses authorized a strike, rejecting a previous offer. Nurses and negotiation teams then met over a 21-hour session and finally agreed on a contract around 5 a.m.

A main sticking point for the nurses union was the cost of health insurance. Children’s agreed to cap the rate of increase for the most comprehensive insurance plan to match the increase the employer must pay.

The pay increase will be 3% this year, 3% next year and just more than 2% in 2021.

Both sides say they are happy with this agreement.

“It was time to become compatible. We recognize that health insurance is increasing for everybody, but the increase that we were experiencing as nurses was not, we were not able to keep up with that,” said Trisha Ochsner, of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

In a statement, Children’s Minnesota said it was pleased with the deal.

“Children’s has come to the bargaining table each time in good faith, and both sides have accomplished a lot over the last several bargaining sessions,” the statement reads. “We have improved workplace safety, boosted wages and agreed to improvements on other issues recognizing the important work nurses do for Children’s every day.”

Contract talks started back in March. Nurses will now take another vote Thursday to ratify the new agreement.

Katie Steiner

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