Negotiations Suspended Without Agreement, NNU Strike Proceeding
The University of Chicago Medical Center met again today with the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) union and a federal mediator. Regrettably, the union ended negotiations just after 7 p.m. tonight with no agreement. The parties have no plan to meet again before NNU-represented nurses go on strike at 7 a.m. Friday.
For months, we have heard that the issue was staffing. UCMC made a proposal on staffing today that union leaders indicated they could work with as part of a complete agreement. But the union then proceeded to identify additional core issues beyond staffing and ended negotiations with no plans to resume talks until after the strike.
Excellent staffing is something UCMC is known for. During bargaining on Saturday night, the union removed its demand for inflexible fixed ratios, which had prevented progress. In return, UCMC’s bargaining team made the following staffing offer to allow greater support for our nurses:
• Unassigned charge nurses on day shift for all adult ICU units (4E, 3E, 8N, 9N, 9S, 8S, and Burn.)
• Unassigned charge nurses on all shifts for the largest medical surgical units (10W, 10E, and 4C.)
• A reduced patient assignment for charge nurses on other adult medical surgical units (8E, 8W, 9E, 9W, 3W, 4W.)
• A reconfiguration of how patient care support nurses are deployed to ensure coverage on all shifts and units, including weekends.
• Altogether, UCMC offered more than 30 new full-time positions to provide nurses the support for patients.
NNOC/NNU leaders responded that UCMC’s staffing proposal would be a basis to resolve the staffing issue if a larger agreement could be reached.
Regrettably, negotiations broke down over the issue of incentive pay for future job applicants:
• UCMC proposed that all current nurses keep ALL of the incentive pay they receive today. No cuts.
• Only future applicants for vacancies would be ineligible for incentive pay.
• All nurses would continue to receive competitive raises in a final amount to be negotiated as part of a contract settlement.
• UCMC would continue to be Chicago’s market leader in nursing pay.
NNOC/NNU refused to consider the proposal on incentive pay and called it a “core” strike issue once we had reached a staffing solution. Union leaders also added two more core strike issues: broad access for union business agents to all UCMC conference rooms and a ban on call time for newly organized nurses even if those nurses are needed to meet patient care needs.
At this point, UCMC’s sole focus will be ensuring continuity of patient care during the walkout. We continue to value everything that you do every day for our patients, and will welcome all of you back once the union’s disruption ends on Wednesday morning. I respect your professionalism and commitment. I do not respect the Union’s direction that you walk out on patients.
We will continue to provide updates on our strike preparations and negotiations on ucmcnurses.org.