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Indiana Nurses Call Off Holiday Strike After Reaching A Tentative Deal

Nurses at Indiana Regional Medical Center called off a strike scheduled for Dec. 23 after reaching a tentative agreement with management early Tuesday morning.

The union represents more than 340 nurses and nurse anesthetists who have been working without a contract since October 2015.

Indiana Registered Nurses Association spokesperson Annie Slezickey said the two sides reached a “fair and equitable” contract after 13.5 hours of overnight bargaining.

“Last night we saw a true effort of compromise from both sides, from the hospital and from the union,” she said.

Nurses had wanted a 4.5 percent pay increase in 2017, while the hospital was offering 3.5 percent. They settled on 4 percent next year and 1.5 percent in 2018.

The hospital currently offers different health plans to part- and full-time nurses, which Slezickey called a “union busting” tactic and an effort to divide the staff.

“They were asking those part-time nurses to pay more for their health care, which ultimately would have led to, realistically, a pay cut for them,” she said.

Management tentatively agreed to matching plans.

Slezickey "absolutely" credited the agreement to the threat of a strike. Hospital spokesperson Mark Richards disagreed.

“We had a session that was already scheduled for yesterday even before the strike notice,” he said. “We had planned to get back to the table. Both sides wanted to get a deal done, at the end of the day.”

The contract will run through Oct. 31, 2018, if it's ratified by the union on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo credit: UMVUR1972/Wikimedia Commons.