Editorial: Nurses’ pact sensible

Published 10:10 am Monday, July 12, 2010

The Minnesota Nurses Association sent a message of the importance of nurses as the front line of health care when a one-day strike was held at 14 Twin Cities hospitals on June 10. We believe a majority of Minnesotans understood that decision.

But if the nurses union had decided to walk next Tuesday until a contract agreement was reached that public support would have waned considerably. As it was, support within the nursing ranks was eroding as the strike deadline neared. There were plenty of nurses going public with their opposition to a strike and concern for how it would affect patients — who are their calling.

The agreement is a sensible one. It calls for:

Email newsletter signup

The nurses association withdrawing its demand for rigid nurse-to-patient ratios.

Hospitals dropped proposals to cut pensions and health care benefits.

Nurses dropped more than 20 allegations of unfair labor practices.

The nurses get no pay increase the first year of a three-year contract, but a 1 percent increase in year two and 2 percent in the third year.

Meanwhile, the two sides expressed a “renewed commitment” to work on staffing issues.

Economic conditions in health care require flexibility in staffing. There’s simply no getting around that. However, with that must come relentless communication between hospital management and nurses.

Such communication was obviously sorely lacking leading up to the situation that lingered for months before the tentative agreement reached on Thursday.

That should be a lesson well learned.

— The Mesabi Daily News, of Virginia, July 2