Bargaining Update #24

Dear Nursing Colleagues,

We met multiple times with the NNU today during our first bargaining session since the union announced its planned March 14 strike.

We will continue bargaining tomorrow with another session that NNU agreed to add to the calendar. While there was not agreement today on the major outstanding areas of the contract, negotiators had meaningful discussions on the newly represented nurses, parking, on-call and staffing. We did not reach any new tentative agreements today. Where we stand with current proposals is captured here in this document.

Specifically, UCMC presented NNU with a new staffing package, which included the addition of unassigned charge nurses to shared Mitchell units and a new adult ED meal break relief program, which adds dedicated ED staff to cover patient care duties while represented nurses take lunch breaks. NNU had previously expressed that these topics were critically important items that would be necessary for them to move forward with settling this contract. We hope this movement shows that our bargaining team is listening and is committed to working to reach a resolution.

Bargaining tomorrow adds a much-needed date at the table. However, after that, the only remaining scheduled session before the strike is March 12. We have repeatedly asked the NNU to bargain on additional dates in March, offering to go to the table every day this month and we hope they will take us up on our additional offers. There should be no doubt whatsoever that we want to avoid a strike. Unfortunately, time is of the essence, and we need more of it at the table if we want to reach a fair-and-equitable contract to avoid a strike.

While these negotiations continue, UCMC is now in the position where we are preparing for a strike. Our patients and their families come first, and we have an obligation to them to ensure we operate without interruption.

I know many of you are disappointed to be at this point again. Please know I am too.

The NNU’s 2019 strike caused deep rifts in our nursing community, and we’ve worked hard over the past four years to rebuild our sense of community. Since then, we’ve:

  1. stabilized and increased our nurse staffing post-pandemic
  2. implemented a Nursing Recruitment and Retention Committee
  3. achieved Magnet re-designation (an honor less than 10% of hospitals are able to achieve)
  4. maintained top-decile performance in many nursing-sensitive quality indicators
  5. sustained nurse vacancy rates at less than 5% and nurse turnover rates at less than 14% (with national averages for both of those metrics currently at 15% and 23%, respectively)

UCMC deeply values you and the critical roles you all play in our institution. Our nursing vacancy rate — far below the national average — shows how successful our organization is at attracting and retaining the region’s top nursing talent. We offer top-of-the-market compensation, benefits, and career development opportunities because we want to ensure all of our nursing colleagues have a professional home with us for years to come.

Despite what may transpire in the days ahead, I know you join me in hoping that we can all quickly get back to doing the work that we love doing together for the patients and families who depend on us for care.

Emily Chase, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FACHE
Senior Vice-President, Patient Care Services, Chief Nursing Officer
University of Chicago Medical Center


UCMC Proposal Summary