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Nurses ratify new contract with Sanford Bemidji

BEMIDJI -- Representatives from the Minnesota Nurses Association said that their union has ratified a new labor agreement with Sanford Bemidji.

Ashley Anderson, a registered nurse and union steward, said the nurses “overwhelmingly” ratified the three-year contract around 7 p.m. Friday. Union members declined to specify the number of votes for or against the new contract, but Anderson said the union represents 392 nurses at the Bemidji-area hospital and that turnout for the vote was “strong.”

Union leaders and hospital management tentatively agreed to the terms of the agreement earlier this month. The contract does not include a link between hospital nurses’ pay and the results of patient satisfaction surveys, a measure reportedly proposed by hospital administrators that the union strongly opposed.

The hospital and union both signed off on a “letter of understanding” stipulating that both parties will work to improve scores on the surveys, which are randomly administered to patients at Sanford.

Union staff declined to talk about any other parts of the contract.

“We’re very pleased,” Anderson said. “We feel like it’s a fair contract.”

The hospital and union’s old contract expired at the end of February, and the tentative agreement was reached after a handful of meetings in February and March. The newly-ratified contract will be in effect through February of 2020.

Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen covers education and health for the Bemidji Pioneer.

He is a Minneapolis native and a 2009 graduate of St. John's University. Before moving to Bemidji, Bowen covered education, local politics, crime, and everything in between for the Perham Focus in Perham, Minnesota, and Sun Newspapers in suburban Minneapolis.

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