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St. Alexius nurses vote to unionize

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CHI St. Alexius Medical Center, shown here in May, in Bismarck is the oldest hospital in North Dakota.

Nurses at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck voted to join a union with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

An "overwhelming majority" of nurses voted on Tuesday and Wednesday to unionize, according to a news release from the Minnesota Nurses Association. 

"We’re all extremely excited," said nurse Leslie Wenger. "We just really wanted to come together and have a voice to get heard and to get a seat at the decision-making table."

This is the second union vote at CHI St. Alexius Health in nearly two years. Nurses voted against forming a union in 2017, after some expressed concerns with operational changes they said were harming patient care, as well as recent rounds of layoffs and large workloads.

"We’ve never given up after the 2017 vote, so we had a chance to talk to more nurses and they realized the impact we can have when we all stand together," Wenger said.

The next step is to convene all of the nurses at the hospital to determine their first priorities, Wenger said.

"This week, CHI St. Alexius Health nurses voted to be exclusively represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association. While we would have preferred a different outcome that allowed us to maintain our direct working relationship with our nurses, CHI St. Alexius Health remains dedicated to our mission as a healing ministry. We will continue to provide exceptional care to the patients and communities we serve," Ellen Holt, the hospital's vice president of human resources, said in a statement.

Barb Brady, a communications specialist with the Minnesota Nurses Association, said the vote numbers will not be released. 

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Nurses at CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck are considering unionizing over operational changes they say are harming patient care.

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