Chicago nurses reach tentative agreement with Cook County Health

Nurses at Chicago-based Cook County Health have reached a tentative contract with management after a one-day strike that ended June 25, according to the Chicago Tribune.

About 900 nurses who went on strike are represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United. They work at John H. Stroger Jr. and Provident hospitals, as well as at the system's clinics and at the Cook County Department of Corrections.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee represents 1,250 nurses throughout Cook County Health. However, the county received a court-ordered injunction to prevent more than 300 nurses from walking off the job after an order from the Illinois Labor Relations Board, according to the Tribune

During the strike, Cook County Health augmented staffing with agency nurses. The health system said Stroger Hospital also went on ambulance bypass June 24 for emergency department and advanced life support cases. Cook County Health also rescheduled some nonurgent appointments and procedures.

Alexandra Normington, a spokesperson for the health system, told Becker's the tentative agreement includes a retention incentive to address retention issues and the overall nursing shortage. The across-the-board wage increases will boost pay for nurses to 8.5 percent over four years.

Additionally, but not agreed to in the tentative agreement, Cook County Health plans to post and fill about 300 vacancies, said Ms. Normington.

Nurses began negotiations with the health system last October and will vote on whether to approve the contract July 1 and July 2, the Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, Cook County workers represented by SEIU Local 73 continue to strike. 

SEIU Local 73 represents about 2,400 workers in Cook County, including workers in Cook County Health at Stroger and Provident hospitals. SEIU members at Cook County Health include housekeeping, food service, medical technologists, respiratory therapists, ward clerks, mental health workers, physician assistants, medical assistants and care coordination staff.  

SEIU Local 73 members began to strike June 25. The union has been in negotiations for more than nine months. 

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