Facts On UCMC’s Proposed Pay Increases, Timing of Strike
I’m writing to let you know how deeply saddened I am that we are facing a five-day National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United union strike starting Friday, Sept. 20.
As nurses, we have worked together to build a Medical Center that offers unrivaled excellence in patient care and a professional practice environment that supports the advancement of your careers as clinicians.
For months now, I have hoped that we could reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement through respectful, productive negotiations with NNOC/NNU. However, NNOC/NNU decided to call a strike.
I was puzzled by the timing of the strike. UCMC had made movement. And we had just set eight bargaining dates in late September and October. Why hurt nurses and patients when we’ve agreed to keep talking?
The answer recently became clear. The timing of the strike is not about us. Union leaders called the strike at UCMC on Friday, Sept. 20, to coincide with strikes called for the same day at 12 hospitals in California, Arizona and Florida, a clear sign that union leaders are willing to sacrifice nurses and patients here in Chicago to pursue a reckless national agenda.
As we all prepare for the impact of you being out for five days, I want to recap where our negotiations stand as of our last bargaining session on Friday, Sept. 6, when we offered several compromises:
- UCMC has increased its pay raise offer to 1.75% in years 1, 2 and 3 of a new contract and 2% in year 4 while maintaining the step pay increase structure for nurses on the step system. This would maintain our nurses’ position as the best paid in the entire Chicago region, with annual base salaries for nurses currently working here increasing from $66,593.28 to $82,149.60 for a starting day-shift nurse with a BSN and from $106,229.76 to $119,071.68 for a day-shift nurse with a BSN and 18 years of experience (top step.) Night shift differential ($5.00/hour and up for grandfathered nurses) would not change and would remain at the top of the market as well. I have included a table below with this letter to show the continued growth in your wages under our proposal, which also has been posted on the UCMCNurses.org website for you to review at any time.
- Contrary to the union’s rhetoric, we have not proposed to reduce or eliminate pay incentives for any nurse currently working at UCMC. Your pay incentive and the amount you earn from it will be exactly the same as it is now through the entire term of the agreement as shown on the chart.
- We also have heard your concerns and made significant changes to our initial contract proposal around benefits. At our last session, we proposed dropping the spousal surcharge on health care coverage. In return, we asked the union to drop proposals to change other benefit language and to agree to small increases in the share of medical premiums you pay to bring them closer to the Chicago market. These small increases in your share of benefit premiums would not begin until July 2020 and would be more than offset by the proposed wage increases.
Our proposed compromises at the last bargaining session represented the fourth modification we’ve made to our original economic proposal.
Most troubling for all of us interested in reaching a contract is that union leaders have not responded to our latest proposal. Rather than work within the process, they instead called a strike that will cause anxiety and confusion for our patients – and cause a major disruption to your lives and to your financial security.
We have eight bargaining sessions scheduled over the next two months. Many nurses are asking what they can do to stop the strike. The short answer is to tell your union leaders how you feel. Unfortunately, after the strike authorization vote, only union leaders can call a strike and only union leaders can stop the strike.
No matter what happens over the next several days, you have my personal commitment that we will continue to work on achieving a fair and equitable contract for you and your family. Thank you for everything you are doing to serve our patients, their families and our larger community.