DULUTH (AP) -- The contracts for more than 1,100 nurses here quietly ran out Sunday morning, but, unlike the situation in the Twin Cities, no strikes are expected.
Negotiations between the Minnesota Nurses Association and Duluth's three hospitals started in April, but with less urgency than simultaneous talks in the Twin Cities.
That's because an uncommon no-strike clause prevents nurses at Duluth's two small hospitals, Miller-Dwan Medical Center and St. Luke's, from voting to walk out.
There is no such clause for the 650 nurses at the St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Health System.
Duluth hospitals typically take their cue on nurses' wages and benefits from Minnesota's metro area -- and the Twins Cities protracted talks slowed talks here, said Marie Percheck, an MNA spokeswoman.
Sharp disagreements over wages, health insurance and staffing forced the union and management at 13 metro hospitals into a monthlong showdown.
Ultimately, a string of last-minute deals averted walkouts at all but two hospitals; 1,300 nurses employed by Fairview hospitals accepted a contract after a 23-day strike. Settlements increased nurses' wages by 18 percent to 21 percent.
"For us to settle before the Twin Cities wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense," Percheck said. "We all draw from the same labor pool."
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