This Week’s CBA Negotiations
First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for your unwavering professionalism and dedication to our patients while you’ve continued to work without a contract since April, when the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired.
You may be wondering why the process is taking so long, particularly since negotiating sessions began on March 11. I can assure you we want, and we all need, a contract that’s fair and equitable for all of us. In order to achieve this, it will take concentrated conversations at the bargaining table focused on the issues that matter to us and to our patients. Time spent on external posturing could have been spent in negotiations and does not get us any closer to an agreement.
This week, we bargained on Wednesday and Thursday, the first sessions in a month. NNOC/NNU responded to UCMC’s proposals regarding staffing and workplace safety and health. We are pleased to report we are getting closer on the critical issue of workplace safety. We talked a lot about staffing because it is essential to patient safety and your ability to provide exceptional care. The data show that our approach is working, and staffing on our units routinely outpaces the fixed ratios that NNOC/NNU advocates while allowing us flexibility to treat patients as people. We believe in a staffing model for our patients that is developed by UCMC teams, and adjusted in accordance with real data and real patient needs, rather than the one-size-fits all California model that NNOC/NNU continues to push.
As you know, we posted staffing data on ucmcnurses.org. I’ve heard from a number of you who work in procedural and outpatient areas for which we have not been able to post the same kind of data. Our posted content is based on the API data that we collect from our inpatient units and report to the State of Illinois and the Medical Center’s Acuity Committee, which is composed of UCMC nurses and makes staffing recommendations to me based on ADOs, staffing trends and other materials.
We will continue working to add information to the site. In the meantime, it’s important to note that even in the areas that aren’t reflected online, we have continued to address staffing issues as needs arise, even when those needs grow faster than anyone expected. The Emergency Department is a good example. Before opening the new ED, we did our own staff planning and notified and solicited feedback from NNOC/NNU on those plans. While everyone did a tremendous job, the response from the community far outpaced what we projected – or anything the Union asked for. The Medical Center continues to respond.
We have added many nurses to the ED, and will continue to do so. When current planned hiring is completed, including new 3:00 p.m. shift positions that are posted, we will have the equivalent of 50 more full-time ED nurses than we employed before the new ED opened in 2017, an increase of more than 40%. We know nurses in the ED have stepped up and continue to work hard to care for patients. Thank you for what you have been doing as we continue to recruit and expand our ED staff.
Because of your work and collaboration, we are driving a culture of patient safety and empowering our teams to adjust and address patient acuity and other situation-specific needs in real-time.
While others may focus on heated rhetoric or public posturing, we know the way to maintain and build upon our strong culture is through constructive, respectful discussions at the bargaining table that will ultimately yield a fair and balanced result for both sides. Everyone at UCMC wants to reach a new CBA that allows us to continue delivering the high-quality, compassionate and affordable care that our patients expect and deserve.
We will continue to update you on the facts about negotiations throughout this process. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your unit manager with any questions you might have, and you can also check ucmcnurses.org for regular updates.
Thank you for everything you do for our patients, one another and all members of our care teams.