Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois Hospi­tal nurses OK strike

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY JADE YAN, STAFF RE­PORTER jyan@sun­times.com | @jadelu­ci­ayan

An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of nurses at Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois Hospi­tal voted to au­tho­rize a strike for lower pa­tient loads.

The Illi­nois Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion said 995 nurses voted in fa­vor of strik­ing if the hospi­tal doesn’t agree to lim­its on the num­ber of pa­tients un­der the care of each nurse and hir­ing more nurses. A strike date hasn’t been set, but nurses must give 10 days notice. The nurses’ three-year con­tract ex­pires Mon­day.

“We want man­age­ment to take the nurses se­ri­ously,” Illi­nois Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Alice J. John­son said Thurs­day. “[This is a] con­tract pro­posal that will ac­tu­ally save lives.”

In a state­ment, Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois Hospi­tal CEO Michael Zenn said “we are dis­ap­pointed” to hear of the strike vote, cit­ing “progress in ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

But staff nurse Ter­ence Yee, who works in the hospi­tal’s neu­ro­science in­ten­sive care unit, said the hospi­tal man­age­ment was re­luc­tant to dis­cuss the pa­tient lim­its, and “we ba­si­cally forced them to have a dis­cus­sion about it.”

Yee said the strike vote was prompted by COVID mea­sures caus­ing the hospi­tal to shut down units and move nurses around to ad­dress the pan­demic. “They keep telling us that we are he­roes,” said Yee, “[but] dur­ing these ne­go­ti­a­tions, they don’t want to do any­thing for us.”

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