St. Paul, Minn. - A 17-hour negotiating session between the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health has led to a tentative agreement on contract issues that sparked a strike nearly six weeks ago.

The negotiating session was sparked by an invitation by Governor Mark Dayton, who invited the two side and mediators to a closed door session at the Governor's mansion in St. Paul. It began Monday around 11 a.m., and the sides emerged around 4 a.m. with the tentative agreement in hand.

The following statement was rekeased by Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith:

“The two sides have successfully negotiated a tentative agreement. We thank the Minnesota Nurses Association and Allina Health for working to reach this tentative agreement, which will allow them to resume the quality health care that Minnesotans need and deserve.”

Rank-and-file members of the Minnesota Nurses Association are expected to vote on the agreement Thursday. The nurses rejected another tentative agreement last week.

Thousands of nurses have been on strike at five Allina hospitals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area since Labor Day.

Nurses association Executive Director Rose Roach says the latest agreement secures advances for nurses in workplace safety, staffing policies and health insurance."The agreement is the result of an enormous amount of work," said Roach in a released statement. "The nurses have shown remarkable strength and courage to earn improvements in workplace safety, nurse staffing policies, and multi-year contributions to accounts that will ease their transition from their contract health insurance plans to Allina core plans."

Allina President and CEO Penny Wheeler says the agreement is "fair to our nurses and sustainable for our organization."

"The day when our nurses will come back to the bedside now feels close at hand," said Wheeler. "With unanimous support from the union bargaining committee, I have high hopes that our nurses will vote to accept this agreement so that we can begin the return to work process as soon as possible."