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Associated Press, Published July 06 2010

Twin Cities nurses voting on deal to avert strike

MINNEAPOLIS — Thousands of Minnesota nurses began going to the polls early Tuesday to vote on a tentative labor agreement with 14 hospitals that averted a strike set for this week.

The 12,000 members of Minnesota Nurses Association are voting from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at locations in St. Paul and Brooklyn Park. Results are expected about midnight.

If at least 51 percent of those voting approve the three-year contract, it's officially ratified. Union leaders are endorsing the deal.

If the agreement doesn't get enough votes, negotiations would resume. If 66 percent or more voters reject the deal, it's the same as authorizing another strike.

Under the agreement, the nurses gave up their demand for rigid nurse-to-patient ratios and the hospitals withdrew their proposal to cut pension and health care benefits.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.