NORWICH, Conn. (AP) — More than 400 nurses who went on a two-day strike amid disputes over pay and the availability of protective gear at a Norwich hospital have a tentative contract.

The nurses and officials at the William W. Backus Hospital found common ground early Saturday morning following an intervention by Gov. Ned Lamont, according to the Hartford Courant. Nurses went on strike Tuesday and Wednesday to pressure the hospital to negotiate better contract terms and then returned to work as negotiations continued.

Sherri Dayton, president of the Backus Federation of Nurses, told the newspaper that pay raises will help stop an exodus of nurses headed to jobs with higher salaries. Also, Hartford HealthCare, the hospital’s parent company, agreed to single-use face masks “instead of storing masks in brown paper bags,” she said.

“We get a new mask every shift. That’s a huge win for the nurses. In my opinion, that’s one of the biggest wins,” Dayton said.

Nurses have scheduled a ratification vote Thursday on the four-year pact.

Donna Handley, president of Backus Hospital, called the agreement a “fair and responsible contract.”

The union and hospital management have been in contract negotiations since June.

Backus nurses had complained that they were paid less than those at other area hospitals, while Backus is one of the most profitable hospitals in the state. They also say they have not had sufficient personal protective equipment during the pandemic and have had to repeatedly reuse gear including N95 masks.

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