Nurses at University of Chicago Medical Center Authorize Strike

The strike would be the second of the year

Nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center could go on strike for the second time this year, as the National Nurses Organizing Committee has given required notice of their intent to walk off the job later this month.

According to a press release sent out by the NNOC/National Nurses United, the one-day strike would take place on Nov. 26, and is being planned in response to a new proposal for staffing at the hospital.

“As a patient care support nurse, I am called in to provide a pair of experienced hands to care for patients with complex needs or who are deteriorating rapidly,” Kristin Yokovich, RN said in a statement. “If we are no longer there to help out in critical conditions, I know patient safety will be compromised.”

According to the union, University of Chicago officials recently proposed eliminating patient care support nurses.

Those nurses, according to the union, assist younger nurses in a mentorship role and aid them with various responsibilities at the hospital.

In an email sent to staff Thursday, hospital officials say they are "disappointed" in the union's decision, saying that despite progress at the bargaining table the union announced their intention to strike without waiting for a response from the hospital on their latest contract demands. 

"UCMC offered significant compromises on many key issues during bargaining sessions, and invited the Union to work with us," officials said. "Today, the union rejected all of the compromises that UCMC had offered on major issues, and gave us a proposal reinforcing its inflexible demands. The union did not wait for UCMC's response, and served us with a pre-prepared written strike notice along with its demands." 

Hospital officials say that a pair of bargaining sessions are scheduled prior to the strike date, and that two additional dates are scheduled for December. 

Officials will provide information on preparations for the strike in coming days. 

The union says that they will continue bargaining with hospital officials through the next 10 days, but that if a new deal is not reached, they will authorize a one-day strike.

During a strike in September, approximately 2,200 nurses walked off the job at three hospitals in Hyde Park. What was supposed to only be a one-day strike turned into a five-day work stoppage, as hospital officials had to guarantee replacement nurses at least five days of pay in order to staff the hospital.

The new strike is set to take place just two days before Thanksgiving, and hospital officials say they will take every step necessary to make sure patients receive appropriate care even during the holiday season. 

"All of us have made plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we truly regret that many of us may not be able to spend time with family and friends as a result of the strike...but our patients, their families and the community we serve need the lifesaving care we provide," the hospital said. 

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