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Talks between Duluth hospital, nurses' union exceed 24 hours

DULUTH - More than 24 hours after they began, talks between Essentia Health, formerly SMDC, and the union representing its registered nurses were continuing this morning.

Talks began at 10 a.m. Tuesday. They still were under way at 10:30 this morning with nothing to report, said Kim Kaiser, an Essentia spokeswoman.

The Minnesota Nurses Association's Facebook page said its negotiating team took a break for breakfast at 9 a.m., then went back to the bargaining table. The union represents nearly 1,000 registered nurses at Essentia.

Negotiations had broken down earlier, but a federal mediator called the two sides back to the bargaining table after St. Luke's Hospital and its registered nurses reached a tentative agreement last week.

The sticking point between Essentia and the union has been contract language regarding adequate staffing and safe patient care.

If no agreement is reached, nurses have voted to strike on Tuesday.