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Nurses at University of Illinois Hospital Vote 995 to 12 to Authorize a Strike
Aug 20, 2020

Nurses at University of Illinois Hospital Vote 995 to 12 to Authorize a Strike

Nurses at University of Illinois Hospital Vote 995 to 12 to Authorize a Strike

Nurses represented by the Illinois Nurses Association from the University of Illinois Hospital today announced their members voted 995 to 12 to authorize a strike against the Chicago hospital. INA is the second union to take a strike vote at UIH this month—more than 2,000 University of Illinois employees represented by the Service International Union Local (SEIU)73 voted to authorize a strike earlier this month.

To watch a recording of today’s press briefing on this strike authorization, click here.

The vote allows the nurses to strike at any time after a 10-day waiting period elapses. The existing three-year contract between the Illinois Nurses Association-represented nurses and the University of Illinois Hospital expires on August 24th.

“Negotiations began earlier this summer but after more than a dozen negotiating sessions, the hospital refuses to engage in a substantive discussion about achieving safe staffing by setting a limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to each nurse, a policy also known as “safe patient limits,” said Doris Carroll, RN, INA President and nurse at UIH. “Safe staffing is the most important issue in the new contact negotiations,” Carroll stressed.

INA supports passage of the Safe Patient Limits Act-House Bill 2604-that would require hospitals to follow more reasonable nurse-to-patient ratios.

At a media briefing today, the nurses shared the results of a new peer-reviewed study (Study here: BMJ Quality & Safety) examining how safe patient limits could improve patient care in New York and Illinois and discussed the Unfair Labor Practice Act filed against the hospital.

Illinois State Senators Robert Peters (D.-Chicago) and Cristina Castro (D.-Elgin) participated in the briefing; both support the passage of HB 2604.

“It is very important for the public to take note that in this large study of nurses practicing in New York and Illinois hospitals, half of nurses gave their hospitals unfavorable grades on patient safety and two-thirds would not definitely recommend their hospital to family and friends,” said Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, a senior researcher and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Both New York state and Illinois have pending legislation requiring hospitals to meet minimum safe nurse staffing standards–no more than four patients per nurse on adult general medical and surgical units. The study found that most hospitals in both states currently do not meet these proposed standards, nor do they even meet the safe nurse staffing standard of five patients per nurse set by legislation in California 20 years ago.

“Gov. Pritzker promised during the primary for Governor that he would sign a bill (on safe staffing) if it came across his desk. We call on him to support us in this matter and get behind HB 2604,” she said.

“The research and our experience demonstrate that many hospitals, including those in Chicago, are not operating with safe staffing ratios,” said Carroll.

According to Aiken, half of nurses gave their hospitals an unfavorable grade on patient safety, a third gave unfavorable ratings on prevention of infections, and 70 percent would not definitely recommend the hospital where they worked to a family member or friend.

There have been 16 negotiating sessions conducted so far but little progress has been made toward a new contract. This week, INA filed an Unfair Labor Practice Act against UIH with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) because UIH management has not responded to a majority of INA’s proposals.

Read more about the UIH strike vote in this Chicago Tribune article.

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