Breaking News
More () »

Nurses and hospitals still far apart heading into final days before strike

Negotiators on both sides are meeting late Friday night and this weekend to hammer out a deal, but the two sides are still far apart on wages.

MINNEAPOLIS — The nurses’ union and hospital groups are still working on a deal to avoid a strike that's set to start Monday.

The anticipation is weighing on many.

"It is very nerve-wracking,” said Angela Becchetti.

Becchetti is a nurse at Abbott Northwestern and is also a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association negotiating team.

“We’re working to get a deal done right now,” she said.

Becchetti said the two sides have made some progress this week, but she is expecting a long weekend of negotiations.

"I have my slippers packed and ready to go,” she joked.

The best offer from the nurses so far, Becchetti said, includes annual raises of 13.5%, 9% and 8% over the next three years, respectively, totaling 30.5%.

Meanwhile, Allina leaders say their best offer is for annual raises of 5%, 4% and 3% over the next three years, totaling 12%.

"We're still pretty far apart on the economics,” said Jill Ostrem, the President of United and Mercy Hospitals with Allina Health.

Ostrem said leaders have made plans to bring in more than a thousand nurses Monday if a strike happens.

"For the most part, everything is open. We're not planning to close any units,” she said.

Ostrem says she can't speak for the other hospitals, but as of right now, Allina feels comfortable with their offer to raise nurses’ wages by 12% over the next three years.

"That's significantly more than we've ever had on the table,” Ostrem said.

But that number is still quite a bit lower than the 30.5% on the nurses’ side.

"There is a huge difference,” Becchetti says.

Union leaders say the two sides are also far apart on other issues like staffing levels and safety. But with six strikes under her belt, union president Mary Turner says both sides have a lot at stake here, and time is running out for the sides to reach a deal before Monday.

"There is no reason we can't come to a deal,” Turner said. "Both sides have the same opportunity this weekend to get this done."

As of Friday night, union leaders were negotiating with six different hospital systems, half in Bloomington, half in St. Paul.

They'll work through the night and all weekend in hopes of avoiding Monday's strike.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out