University of Illinois Hospital workers authorize strike over staffing

University of Illinois Hospital nurses in Chicago have authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike over safe staffing. 

The Illinois Nurses Association said nurses voted Aug. 19 in favor of striking if the hospital fails to substantively discuss limiting the number of patients assigned to each nurse.

The vote does not mean a strike will occur, but it allows the nurses to set a strike date if the hospital receives at least 10 days' notice. The union estimates about 1,400 nurses could strike.

The three-year contract between the Illinois Nurses Association and the hospital expires Aug. 24, and  staffing has been the key issue in negotiations, union president and hospital nurse Doris Carroll, RN, said in a news release. 

The union supports pending Illinois legislation requiring minimum nurse staffing ratios in hospitals. But Michael Zenn, CEO of University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, said in a statement that the hospital supports a patient acuity-based staffing model that "focuses on obtaining the right nurse at the right time to care for the patient, so we can achieve the highest level of safety, quality, service and health outcomes."

Mr. Zenn said in his statement that the hospital also values and respects all workers and is committed to working toward a mutually acceptable agreement. 

"UI Health has a proud history of leading in the healthcare sector with robust collective bargaining agreements that include a total compensation package that demonstrates our respect and appreciation for the critical role of our nurses and other healthcare workers," said Mr. Zenn. "We are disappointed that despite progress in negotiations, INA leadership has chosen to call a strike vote."

More contract negotiations are scheduled. Mr. Zenn said he hopes a strike will not occur, but the hospital will prepare for a potential walkout.


More articles on human resources:
University of Illinois Health workers threaten Chicago strike
HCA nurses win push for unionization election
New Labor Department definition of healthcare provider left many without paid sick leave, inspector general finds

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