Over 800 nurses in Chicago hospital strike over failed contract negotiations

Chicago News

More than 800 nurses at the University of Illinois hospital (UIH) in Chicago went on strike starting Saturday morning after contract negotiations broke down over nurse-to-patient ratios.

About 1,400 nurses were originally set to walk off the job, but a judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday preventing select critical care nurses from striking.

The hospital announced “staffing interruptions” Saturday as it informed patients how the seven-day strike could affect their appointments. 

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The Illinois Nurses Association (INA), which represents the hundreds of UIH nurses working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, is asking the hospital to limit how many patients a single nurse is treating at any one time. The hospital, however, has argued that a set nurse-to-patient ratio does not work.

The nurses were unable to reach an agreement on patient limits during 20 bargaining sessions as the three-year contract between the INA and the hospital system expired on Aug. 24, but was extended to Sept. 7.

“Daycare operators have ratios, right. You can’t have more than eight or nine infants. Dog kennels have ratios,” Doris Carroll, president of the INA and a University of Illinois Health nurse, told a local ABC affiliate. “Why can’t hospitals have ratios?”

Imposing a patient ratio would require that the hospital hire more nurses, which Carroll said would benefit patients in the long run. 

“We have two decades of research to support that having adequate nurses at the bedside will prevent falls, will prevent infections, will prevent deaths — in a hospital mind you,” Carroll said.

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