Union Leaders in San Francisco While UCMC Conducts Strike Drill

Union Leaders in San Francisco While UCMC Conducts Strike Drill

Today, while UCMC conducts a drill to prepare for next week’s strike called by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United, the union’s Chicago leaders are spending the weekend at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel for the union’s “Global Nurses Solidarity Assembly.”

During today’s Workforce Disruption Drill, UCMC’s leaders and staff are working together to ensure we can continue to provide high-quality care to our patients next Friday when 2,200 of our nurses are ordered to walk off the job by union leaders.

After issuing the strike order on Monday, union leaders decided it was more important to leave town to visit San Francisco to advance their international agenda than to stay in Chicago and engage in the hard bargaining required to negotiate our new contract – and avoid the strike they called.

Frankly, I think that’s shameless behavior.

As we prepare for the start of next Friday’s strike, I want to clear up confusion many nurses have expressed about the length of the strike – and whether they can cross the picket lines to care for their patients.

Here are the facts:

  • Because of the union’s strike, nurses will be away from work for five days – from 6:59 a.m. next Friday, Sept. 20, until 7 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25.
  • Union leaders called the strike – and only union leaders have the power to call off the strike.
  • Because of the need to make guarantees to nurses willing to commit to caring for our patients, nurses represented by the NNOC/NNU will not be allowed to cross the picket lines and will not be allowed to return to work for five days.
  • When ordering you to strike, union leaders knew full well they were ordering you off the job for five days without pay because of the steps UCMC must take to continue caring for our patients.
  • For us to obtain replacement nurses, UCMC was required to contract with a replacement agency for five full shifts of work per nurse. Union leaders knew this – and they knew that means we will not have work for NNOC/NNU-represented nurses for five days.
  • What’s worse, union leaders called the strike at UCMC on the same day they ordered 5,500 nurses to strike at 12 hospitals in California, Arizona and Florida. Union leaders called for the coordinated strikes to put patients in the middle and make it harder for UCMC and the other hospitals to hire enough replacement nurses to maintain normal patient care services.
  • When they return from their San Francisco trip, union leaders will undoubtedly continue their charade of calling this a one-day strike. And they will likely continue to urge you to show up for work on Saturday, Sept. 21, and try to force your way into the Medical Center.
  • Don’t be fooled. There is no need for you to report or come to the Medical Center to work Saturday morning.  Union leaders are trying to orchestrate a news media event by inciting you to create a confrontation with your UCMC co-workers who will remain on the job trying to maintain the safety and security of our patients and staff.
  • You don’t have to allow yourselves to be victimized by the union leaders’ national media agenda. To engage in such a confrontation would give a black eye to the professional practice of nursing here at the University of Chicago Medical Center and across the nation.

Again, I think this is shameless behavior. There’s no other word for it. Shameless.

This weekend, I’d again urge you to ask yourselves:

  • Are union leaders representing your best interests?
  • Are union leaders being honest with you when they claim the strike will only last one day while UCMC has consistently said any labor disruption would have to be treated as a five-day strike?
  • Are union leaders using you in a carefully orchestrated national media event designed to compromise patient care at hospitals in four states?
  • Are union leaders acting in your best interests when they call a strike in Chicago and then leave just days later for a union conference in a posh San Francisco hotel?
  • Are union leaders representing your best interests – and the best interests of your nursing profession – when they order you to walk off the job and turn your backs on the patients you pledged to care for?

If you think union leaders aren’t truly acting in your best interests, it’s time to speak out and share your concerns with them.

Everyone has the right to advocate for their patients and be heard. But only union leaders can stop this strike.