Chicago Sun-Times

Talks be­tween strik­ing nurses, Univer­sity of Illi­nois Hos­pi­tal ex­tend into Thurs­day night

- BY BRETT CHASE, STAFF RE­PORTER bchase@sun­times.com | @brettchase Brett Chase’s re­port­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment and public health is made pos­si­ble by a grant from The Chicago Com­mu­nity Trust. Health · Society · College · Higher Education · Illinois · J.B. Pritzker · Service Employees International Union · University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign · Cook County · Lori Lightfoot

Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween nurses and Univer­sity of Illi­nois Hos­pi­tal ex­tended into the evening on the sixth day of a strike Thurs­day as the two sides failed to re­solve is­sues sur­round­ing work­place safety and other de­mands.

About 800 mem­bers of the Illi­nois Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion went on strike last Satur­day morn­ing say­ing they needed more pro­tec­tive gear and lim­its on the num­ber of pa­tients as­signed to each nurse. The union mem­bers an­nounced the strike would last seven days.

Both hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials and union rep­re­sen­ta­tives said this week that they made progress in their talks, but as of late Thurs­day night no ten­ta­tive con­tract agree­ment was reached. Union nurses said this week there was some progress on wage dis­cus­sions “but none on safe staffing, which is the pri­or­ity for nurses.”

At the hos­pi­tal’s re­quest, a Cook County judge barred sev­eral hun­dred nurses from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the strike so no pa­tients’ health would be at risk. But all 1,400 union nurses at the hos­pi­tal would vote on any agree­ment.

On Thurs­day, the nurses asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Light­foot to sup­port their cause.

“Nurses are still fight­ing for staffing that will keep pa­tients safe,” the union’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee said in a let­ter to Pritzker. “Putting a max­i­mum limit on the num­ber of pa­tients that may be as­signed to a nurse is bet­ter for nurses and bet­ter for pa­tients.”

In a let­ter to fac­ulty and staff Wed­nes­day, hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said “we re­main com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing key is­sues and be­lieve much can be re­solved through fur­ther di­a­logue.”

Sep­a­rately, about 3,700 hos­pi­tal and univer­sity em­ploy­ees an­nounced their own strike to sup­port the nurses and ask for their own pro­tec­tions and wage in­creases. The em­ploy­ees are rep­re­sented by four sep­a­rate bar­gain­ing units, all part of the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union Lo­cal 73.

The SEIU em­ploy­ees and the hos­pi­tal have not ap­peared to be close to an agree­ment.

“Union lead­er­ship has not shown a will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise,” hos­pi­tal ex­ec­u­tives said in their let­ter.

 ?? PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO ?? The Illi­nois Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion marches out­side Univer­sity of Illi­nois Hos­pi­tal on Satur­day, the first day of the strike.
PAT NABONG/SUN-TIMES FILE PHOTO The Illi­nois Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion marches out­side Univer­sity of Illi­nois Hos­pi­tal on Satur­day, the first day of the strike.

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