Update: CBA Negotiation Sessions 7
As you know, the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) continue to meet regularly to negotiate terms for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
The sessions over the last two weeks have centered on staffing and economic proposals, areas where misinformation and lack of clarity can replace facts and constructive dialogue. I want you to hear the facts on our approach to these two crucial issues.
Compensation and Benefits
UCMC believes in providing compensation and benefits that reward performance, support professional growth and attract high-performing professionals like you to join our team. As the CBA governs many aspects of compensation and benefits, I want to walk through a few of the proposals that we discussed today as we work toward a fair and equitable outcome.
- Continued growth in nurse pay: The average hourly rate for UCMC nurses under the current CBA is over $47 per hour, which is $11 more per hour than the average pay rate for acute care hospital nurses in the Chicago area. Despite that fact, the Union made an unrealistic opening demand for 6% wage increases per year plus step plus increases to other elements of pay. We value your exceptional skills and expertise, and we’re proud to be a market leader. Over the proposed four years of a new CBA, we want to keep growing your base rate. In response to the Union’s offer, we proposed a 1.5% increase per year plus step progression for those who are eligible. With the wage increases we have proposed, you would remain at the top of the Chicago market.
- Insurance adjustments to align with market trends: Health care benefits are an important part of your compensation package, and we are committed to ensuring those benefits remain competitive. As you know, insurance premiums continue to climb, and we are proposing that your share of individual coverage move from 21% to 24% of medical premiums over the contract, which is still below the market average contribution of 25%. The cost for other coverages would be capped at 26%, which also remains below the market average. We additionally proposed that the percentage share for any tier of coverage you pay not increase by more than 1.5% per year.
- Equitable and consistent incentive and holiday compensation: The current policy of applying incentive pay to some, but not all, roles and hours goes back many years. Our proposal would freeze incentive pay rates for UCMC nurses who are currently eligible at current levels and eliminate the incentive pay structure for holidays, vacation and all newly hired nurses. There would be no cut in the incentive hourly rate for current nurses who receive it.
- Standard overtime pay and compensatory holidays: We also propose standardizing overtime pay so that it is applied on a weekly, not daily, basis consistent with overtime laws. And we want to give you greater flexibility to schedule compensatory personal days when you work a holiday. Please know that UCMC wants to simplify pay codes and make it is easier for all nurses to understand how their paycheck is calculated.
Together, we have developed a model that allows our teams to flex and address patient acuity and other situation-specific needs in real time. This approach has encouraged collaboration, fostered opportunities for innovation and professional development, and leveraged resources efficiently and effectively to provide quality care to our patients.
Being flexible and responding to actual patient needs has resulted in many units being staffed ahead of the one-size-fits-all California-style staffing ratio model favored by some. Here are a couple of points:
- Our ICU averages 1.67 patients per nurse, rather than the 1:2 model suggested by the NNU. Our staffing in the ICUs has been consistent for the last three years and over all units and isn’t the result of one outlier. All our ICU units have been staffed between 1.61 and 1.92 patients per nurse over the last year.
- Our adult and pediatric med/surg units are also well-staffed, consistently averaging less than 3.65 patients per nurse for the last three years.
- Further, as you know, we rely on our Acuity Committee, composed of an even mix of your peers and key nurse leaders, to review our staffing levels every six months. Feedback from our Committee consistently demonstrates overall satisfaction with nurse staffing. The Committee continues to look for improvements with NSA staffing, a suggestion that we have supported.
Our team is committed to constructive, respectful discussions that ultimately yield a fair result for both sides. Please understand that negotiations are part of a meticulous, winding and laborious process to a new CBA. I am committed to ensuring your compensation reflects the significant contributions you make to our organization and is consistent with our Medical Center-wide approach to compensation and benefits. I’m equally committed to making sure you know the facts about how we approach staffing in a way that empowers nurses and ensures patient and team-member safety.
Everyone at UCMC wants to reach a new CBA that allows us to continue delivering the high-quality, compassionate and affordable care in a safe environment that our patients expect and deserve. We look forward to more conversations about how we can best achieve those goals. We will continue to update you on the facts about negotiations throughout this process. You may also check ucmcnurses.org for information and updates.
Thank you for everything you do for our patients, one another and all members of our care teams.