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ND Nurses Ratify Historic Contract

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The people involved with pushing through a historic nurses' contract in North Dakota say it not only benefits local workers but also those hoping to advance union causes across the state. (Adobe Stock)
The people involved with pushing through a historic nurses' contract in North Dakota say it not only benefits local workers but also those hoping to advance union causes across the state. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mike Moen - Producer, Contact
September 11, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota has seen a vote that hasn't taken place in the state for quite some time: a union-approved contract in health care.

This week, nurses at St. Alexius Health Bismarck Medical Center ratified a labor agreement with the hospital's parent company. It comes after these workers became the only unionized nurses in the state. They're represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association, which works in multiple states.

Association member Angie Grosz, who works at the hospital, said it's the culmination of several years of standing in solidarity with her fellow nurses to create some history.

"It's the first hospital in North Dakota with a nurse's union," she said, "and now the first hospital working under a contract."

North Dakota is not viewed as a union-rich state, and nurses have said that's underscored by having an out-of-state labor group supporting them. MNA has said the deal was struck after more than 20 negotiating sessions that centered on staffing, workplace-violence protections, and a defined wage scale. It's believed to be the first such contract in the state in more than 40 years.

The Minnesota Nurses Association said it hopes these changes will help retain more registered nurses in Bismarck. Not only will this benefit staff members, Grosz said, but also the people they care for.

"This has really created a great opportunity to for nurses to have a stronger say in their workplace and in the care that they can provide to their patients," she said.

In a statement released after the deal was first reached, the hospital's parent company, Catholic Health Initiatives, said it was happy to finalize an agreement. It added that it appreciated working with the nurses to continue to provide top-quality care to the community.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Dakota has the second-fewest number of unionized workers in the country, at just under 18,000.

The agreement announcement from MNA is online at mnnurses.org, and the company statement is at chistalexiushealth.org.

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