News & Events
Chicago Tribune: Strike date set for 1,300 University of Illinois Hospital nurses
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune Business section on Sept. 2, 2020.
A union representing more than 1,300 nurses at University of Illinois Hospital and its clinics has notified the hospital that nurses plan to strike Sept. 12.
The Illinois Nurses Association and the hospital have been unable to reach agreement on a new three-year contract. The current contract was set to expire Aug. 24 but was extended until Sept. 7.
The University of Illinois Hospital sits on the city’s West Side, serving many low-income patients, and has 462 beds.
Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, said in a statement Wednesday he was disappointed the nurses have decided to strike, but, “We are hopeful that both parties will reach an agreement that reflects our commitment to our nurses while being fiscally sustainable for the hospital.”
“Should a work stoppage occur, however, we are prepared to continue safe patient care and ongoing operations,” Zenn said.
A main sticking point in negotiations has been nurse-to-patient ratios. The union wants the hospital to set limits on the numbers of patients assigned to nurses.
“Safe staffing is the most important issue in the new contract negotiations,” said Doris Carroll, Illinois Nurses Association president and University of Illinois nurse, in a news release.
The hospital has said it prefers a patient acuity-based model, which aims to align patients’ needs with nurses’ skills. Illinois law requires hospitals to staff based on acuity. The hospital does not support staffing ratios, saying they don’t provide needed flexibility.
The nurses union has said it wants a combination of acuity-based staffing and ratios.
The nurses planned a strike in 2017 over the contract that’s now expiring, but it was averted when the hospital and union reached an agreement. Three years before that, the union and hospital reached a similar eleventh-hour deal that averted a strike.
The nurses are not the only University of Illinois Chicago workers who may go on strike this month.
Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 also voted to authorize a strike. That strike could include about 4,000 workers across the University of Illinois health system and University of Illinois at Chicago campus. The union represents employees including food service workers, maintenance workers, clerical staff, counselors and physical therapists.
To continue reading the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the UIH strike notice, click here.
Find the Chicago Sun-Time’s coverage here.