CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 1,400 nurses for University of Illinois Health have reached a tentative four-year contract agreement with the hospital and its clinics, days after most of them staged a weeklong strike.
The tentative agreement ends several months of contract negotiations, but still must be ratified by a majority of the nurses represented by the Illinois Nurses Association. The vote will be held over three days next week.
The union said the deal with UI Health includes wage increases, a commitment to hire at least 160 more full-time nurses, hazard pay for working during a pandemic, a guaranteed rolling 90-day supply of personal protective equipment, universal N95 masking, a new negative pressure wing for the hospital, upgrades to the hospital’s airflow system, new windows that allow any room to be used as a negative pressure room with portable HEPA filters.
“We are gratified to achieve this hard-fought victory after months of negotiations—this represents a vast improvement compared to where we were before the strike and we are happy to see that the hospital recognized the importance of safe staffing,” said INA President Doris Carroll, RN. “The nurses were unified and strong and it paid off in what we think is a fair contract.”
More than 800 of the approximately 1,400 nurses who work at University of Illinois Hospital and its clinics went on strike for seven days from Sept. 12 to Sept. 17. All of the nurses had planned on joining the strike, but a judge ordered more than 500 who work in critical care units could not walk off the job, because it would present a danger to the public.
Talks with the hospital resumed after the strike ended.
Nearly 4,000 other University of Illinois workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 73 have been on strike since Sept. 14, but according to published reports also have reached a tentative deal to end the walkout.