UChicago Medicine nurses vote to authorize strike

Nurses at UChicago Medicine voted Feb. 20 to authorize a strike if negotiations between management and the nurses' union fail to reach an agreement. 

Registered nurses voted 97% in favor of authorizing the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United bargaining committee to call a one-day strike at any time if management does not address their staffing concerns. No actual strike has been announced.

The union represents 2,800 nurses at UChicago Medicine, which includes the flagship 811-bed University of Chicago Medical Center. Management and nurses have been in contract negotiations since September 2023; the nurses' contract expired in November 2023. 

The University of Chicago Medical Center has engaged in 20 bargaining sessions with NNU as of Feb. 21, according to a Feb. 21 statement shared with Becker's. The system said it has reached "roughly two dozen tentative agreements on a number of topics — seven during the last bargaining session alone." 

"With at least three more bargaining sessions scheduled in February and March, we remain optimistic that both sides will reach an agreement that allows us to continue to retain and attract the high caliber of nurses who so meaningfully contribute to our reputation for providing excellent care," the University of Chicago Medical Center's statement reads.

Nurses are calling on the university to address nurse staffing levels, training and resources, as well as demanding management respond to workplace violence prevention proposals. The union is calling for the health system to revise or add provisions to their contract that they say will support nurse retention, such as charge nurses not having patient assignments to support other nurses. 

More than 2,000 University of Chicago Medical Center nurses held a strike in September 2019 — the first nursing strike for the organization — after their contracts expired in April. An agreement was reached in November 2019, narrowly avoiding a second strike.

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