U of Chicago nurses vote to authorize strike

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University of Chicago Medicine nurses have voted to authorize their union to strike, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The vote, conducted Aug. 29, allows the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United to call a strike at any time without further approval from nurses. They must give the hospital 10 days' notice before calling a strike. If the strike goes forward, about 2,300 nurses will walk off the job and the hospital will hire agency nurses to temporarily replace them. 

The contract between the hospital and the union expired in April. The union hopes the vote authorizing a strike will help them make progress on contract negotiations, said Talisa Hardin, RN, a nurse at the hospital and a chief nurse representative for the union.

The nurses are asking for lower nurse-to-patient ratios and more security officers, among other things. They picketed in July to call attention to these concerns and filed complaints with state and federal agencies in June. An investigation from the state health department found some deficiencies at the hospital but concluded it was still in compliance with Medicare standards.

"The University of Chicago Medical Center does not want a strike, and UCMC continues to focus on bargaining in good faith toward a contract," the hospital said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "We have a full strike plan in place to ensure our patient care will continue should the union call for a walkout in the future."

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