No deal reached as the Minnesota nurses’ strike comes to a close: What happens next?

The third and final day of the largest private sector nurses' strike comes to a close, and nurses still have not reached a deal with the hospitals. So, what happens next, and could there be another round of picketing?

Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) aren’t ruling out the option. They said Wednesday they hope the three-day strike has given them more bargaining power.

"I hope that maybe the employer will realize how important it is to actually have us in the building, and that they're going to come to the table next and actually negotiate a fair contract with us. So I hope we don't have to do this again, but it's always a possibility especially if they continue to tell us, ‘I'm not interested,’" said Brittany Livaccari, an emergency room at Allina Health’s United Hospital.

After three days away from their patients, nurses at United Hospital became the first to return to the beside Wednesday because of the way their strike notice was drafted. Dozens of nurses gathered to support them as they headed back in the building for the first time.

"It's going to be hard going back knowing that… Allina hasn't come to the table during the strike. They still haven't come to us," said Livaccari, who is also on the negotiating team.

Nurses at the 14 other hospitals will return to work on Thursday at 7 a.m. But negotiations at all 15 hospitals remain at a stalemate.

Fifteen thousand nurses walked off the job Monday morning. For months, nurses and hospital executives have sparred over pay and staffing levels.

Nurses said they'd like to avoid another strike if at all possible, and they're willing to bring down the wages they're asking for, but there are certain demands they consider non-negotiable.

"Are all of you willing to go back to the conditions that you've been in?" MNA president Mary Turner asked the nurses surrounding her at Wednesday’s news conference.

"No," they chanted.

"So, we don't have any other alternative but to go into round two of this war," Turner said.

Turner mentioned two stipulations they want included in their contracts: the right to refuse unsafe assignments and language about staffing changes.

"(We want language saying) our employers would have to convince 50% of our nurses that a staffing change on their floor would be OK. They don't want to agree to that. And I say, ‘If you can't convince 50% of your nurses to a staffing change, then maybe you shouldn't make it,’" Turner said.

No talks are scheduled this week or this weekend, but negotiations will likely resume next week.

Allina Health told FOX 9 in a statement, "We are grateful to our care teams for their extraordinary effort this week and their dedication every day to providing safe, high-quality care to the communities we serve. Striking MNA nurses will return to work at United Hospital in St. Paul this evening at 6:30 p.m. and tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. at our Abbott Northwestern Hospital and Mercy Hospital campuses in Coon Rapids and Fridley. Now, we look forward to returning to the bargaining table. We are scheduling a bargaining session next week to continue working with the Minnesota Nurses Association on a contract agreement that recognizes both the contributions of our nurses and our commitment to our patients, and communities."