UChicago Medical Center sues National Nurses United over arbitration agreement

University of Chicago Medical Center has filed a federal lawsuit against National Nurses United in an attempt to vacate an arbitration decision regarding its attendance policy.

 

According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on March 14, UCMC and NNU entered into arbitration in 2016 after the union took issue with a change in attendance policy made by UCMC in July 2014.

Jan Rodolfo, RN, NNU's Midwest director, tells Becker's UCMC made the attendance policy change "unilaterally," without consulting the union or nurses at the hospital. She says the new policy caused nurses to have to "choose between putting patients at risk and going to work sick, or facing discipline."

Arbitrator Peter Meyers issued a decision and award in December that stipulated UCMC was required to bargain over future changes to attendance policies.

However, according to UCMC, its collective bargaining agreement with the nurses union doesn't require the hospital to bargain over those types of changes.

In a statement provided to Becker's, UCMC said the collective bargaining agreement it has with NNU "provides [the hospital] the right to issue reasonable personnel policies without first negotiating. This right includes attendance policies."

Therefore, UCMC filed a suit against NNU because of "the failure of a recent arbitration award to recognize that contract language and prior arbitration awards that upheld these important principles," according to UCMC's statement. "We believe protecting these long-established principles is in the best interest of UCMC's patients and the community it serves."

Ms. Rodolfo says, "From our perspective, based on this experience with the last policy, we really think it's important that they bargain with us."

NNU represents 1,600 registered nurses at UCMC.

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