FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rick Fuentes
(Bismarck) – August 28, 2020 – After more than 30 hours of negotiations this week, MNA nurses reached a tentative agreement early Wednesday morning on a first contract with CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck Medical Center. Nurses had more than 20 bargaining sessions with hospital management to reach an agreement on staffing, workplace violence protections, and a defined wage scale that will help retain nurses in Bismarck.
“We are happy to be done with this process and use what we’ve bargained to continue caring for our patients,” said Rachel Heintz, RN at St. Alexius. “Finally, nurses will be able to act when staffing isn’t meeting patient needs. This way patients can be assured that nurses will always be there for them, able to deliver the highest quality care.”
In order to make St. Alexius the best hospital it can be, nurses negotiated the right to adjust patient assignments so that they can safely handle patient care, the ability to temporarily pause new patient admissions in a unit if those nurses feel they need time to catch up, and minimum staffing levels for the emergency department.
Negotiations began one year ago, and more than 20 negotiation sessions have taken place since then. This summer, nurses held an informational picket at St. Alexius to let patients know staffing issues had not yet been addressed in negotiations.
“This is a big sigh of relief for nurses as well,” said Lauren Buol, an RN at St. Alexius. “This contract will give us protections from being assaulted at work and put a pay scale in place that encourages our nurses to stay in Bismarck. We have to keep our experienced nurses here as well as be able to hire new nurses.”
North Dakota has traditionally been one of the lowest-paying states for nurses in the country, but this contract will set a wage-scale that includes “steps” or increases for experience.
MNA nurses must still vote to ratify the contract. That vote is expected to take place the week of September 7, 2020. The negotiating team, comprised of St. Alexius nurses, is recommending members vote “yes” to ratify this agreement into a contract. That vote must pass by a majority.