Nurses Ratify New Collective Bargaining Agreement

We are pleased to share the news that 2,800 of our nursing colleagues represented by National Nurses United have approved a new four-year labor contract.

The agreement is the result of collaborative and constructive dialogue between the University of Chicago Medical Center and National Nurses United. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in the negotiation process, including the nursing union representatives and the Medical Center’s bargaining team. Their dedication, professionalism, and willingness to engage in productive dialogue were instrumental in reaching an agreement.

We also want to thank the scores of team members who prepared extensively to maintain patient care in the event a strike proceeded and those who supported the organization in other ways throughout this process. In particular, we would like to recognize System Chief Operating Officer Krista Curell and Chief Nursing Officer Emily Chase for their terrific and inspirational leadership.

Finally, thank you to our nursing staff for your dedication and commitment to providing the very best care to our patients and their families. Your hard work and compassion make a difference in the lives of those we serve every day.

As we move forward, let us continue to work together with mutual respect, transparency, and a shared commitment to excellence and service. By fostering a culture of collaboration and communication, we can ensure our organization remains a place where we all can thrive and succeed, where patients and the community can find the very best care, and where we train the best and the brightest and push the boundaries of science and medicine.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our mission and for being the hearts and minds of our organization.


Mark Anderson, MD, PhD
Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs

Tom Jackiewicz
President, University of Chicago Health System

Tentative Contract Agreement

Dear Nursing Colleagues:

I’m so incredibly happy to report that the University of Chicago Medical Center and National Nurses United have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract. This avoids a strike that had been set to begin next week.

UCMC and NNU have been bargaining for six months, meeting more than two dozen times to come to a new collective bargaining agreement that balances your personal and professional needs with our institution’s commitments to patients and our community. Today’s tentative contract does exactly that.

The tentative contract is not yet final and still must be ratified by NNU’s members.

I’d like to thank UCMC’s bargaining team:

  • Alesia Coe, ACNO, VP of Adult Inpatient and Emergency Services
  • Sarah Kundrat, ACNO, Executive Director of Ambulatory Nursing
  • Jeff Murphy, ACNO, VP of Women’s and Children’s Services
  • Renee Pucik-Maisura, ACNO, Executive Director of Perioperative and Procedural Services
  • Sally Walton, ACNO, Executive Director of Patient Care Services
They brought their collective expertise to this difficult process, and they were able to bring ideas to the table that helped to meet the needs of our nurses going forward.

I also want to personally thank the union’s bargaining team for their tireless advocacy and being able to speak passionately on behalf of their peers across the Medical Center:

  • Stephanie Gamboa, Dermatology Clinic
  • Stephanie Graham, 4 West
  • LaMonica Jones, PCSN, Family Birth Center
  • Marie Lafontant, Burn ICU
  • Brigitt Manson, Comer 5
  • Scott Mechanic, Emergency Department
  • Allison Messer, NICU
  • Elaine Mister, Case Management
  • Lea Sargent King, 4SE Mitchell
  • Amber Turi, MICU
  • Pamela Valentine, PACU
  • Johnny Webb, Procedural Float Team

They were able to bring forward new ways of thinking about how we activate the profession of nursing with our organization.

Since the last NNU contract was ratified four years ago, our nursing community has experienced incredible highs and incredible lows. Through it all, we’ve grown together. This organization is home to the brightest minds in nursing. I hope the next four years bring us to even greater heights as a team.

Looking forward to what is ahead,


Bargaining Update #26

Dear Nursing Colleagues:

We had more productive conversations with NNU’s bargaining team today on staffing, meeting well into the evening as we continue to march toward the start of the union’s March 14 strike. We will return to the table tomorrow.

We have continued to discuss wages and other economics as well.

At this point in the process, we do not have an agreement, but both sides are invested in the process, and we are meeting both as full committees and in less formal smaller groups to explore solutions.

Bargaining resumes tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, strike preparations across the Medical Center remain underway and will continue. Please know that we remain committed to working toward reaching a fair-and-equitable contract and avoiding this strike.

I appreciate that many of you have brought forward your concerns about what this strike means to you, your families, our patients and our community. I share your concerns and continue to hope that we can find a path toward a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of our nurses, our patients and our community.

Emily Chase, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FACHE
Senior Vice-President, Patient Care Services, Chief Nursing Officer

Bargaining Update #25

Dear Nursing Colleagues,

We met today with the NNU Bargaining Team in an added bargaining session. The NNU Bargaining Team has agreed to meet again on Thursday, March 7th as we continue to work toward a contract prior to the upcoming strike on March 14th.

Both sides presented packaged proposals on staffing, and both sides discussed contractual language for newly represented critical care outreach nurses and diabetes educators. We reached a tentative agreement on parking today, which provides the following to NNU members:

  1. Expands garage parking access to ALL 2nd shift nurses
  2. Freezing nurse parking rates for the term of the CBA
  3. Freezing the percentage of garage spaces allocated to NNU RNs

In addition, UCMC proposed a new process today to resolve patterns of nurse staffing disputes at the medical center. NNU has said that this type of process is a top union priority that ensures nurses have a transparent pathway to raise staffing concerns. Our proposal starts with bringing staffing disputes to the NPPCC and Patient Acuity Committees and ends with the option of requesting a final review by an independent federal mediator.

We need to continue to make strong, meaningful progress toward closing a contract prior to the upcoming March 14th strike date. We look forward to coming back to the table on Thursday as both bargaining teams continue to do the hard work toward reaching a new contract.

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

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

Bargaining Update #23

Dear Nursing Colleagues,

I once again had the opportunity to join the NNU and UCMC teams at the bargaining table today. Both teams passed updated economic proposals and presented contract language for the newly represented critical care outreach nurses. In addition, NNU passed a new package proposal on staffing and the 8S ICU team joined the NNU Bargaining Team today to discuss some of their recent challenges with staffing and workplace safety. I appreciated them sharing their personal experiences and we had a positive dialogue with them about areas of focus going forward.

However, after making so much progress during sessions earlier this month, we did not reach any new tentative agreements today.

We only have two remaining bargaining sessions scheduled: March 4th and 12th. I know that you all have a sense of urgency about resolving this contract and moving toward a tentative contract for ratification. Please know that I share your sense of urgency, as does the rest of the UCMC Bargaining Team. But the only way to get there is to continue coming to the bargaining table and doing the hard work and compromise that’s necessary for reaching a contract.

I remain hopeful that we will make more progress at the bargaining table in our upcoming two scheduled bargaining sessions, and, if necessary, add additional bargaining dates to the calendar.

Emily Chase, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FACHE,
Senior Vice-President, Patient Care Services,
Chief Nursing Officer

Bargaining Update #22

Dear UCMC Nurses:

Today we completed our 21st bargaining session with the NNU and our UCMC bargaining team. I’ve taken the opportunity to recenter us more than once in this process — I will take that opportunity again today.

Progress is defined as forward or onward movement towards a destination. Big or small, never underestimate what you’ve done so far on your path to success — for when everything adds up, you’ll see that you’ve come a long way since you’ve started. Today, we hope each of you see we continue to make deliberate progress.

We reached a tentative agreement on the Weekend Program today that is part of perioperative service line. Our Weekend Program Nurses are valuable members of the team, and we hope these changes continue to support them in their unique work. The major changes within this tentative agreement include:

  • Weekend Program Nurses who work any holiday hours on their weekend will receive holiday pay equivalent to the appropriate overtime rate.
  • Weekend Program Nurses who are absent related to an illness that is excused under the Medical Center’s Communicable Disease Policy will not have those absences regarded as a break in continuing of weekends worked.

We also responded to a previous economic pass and, late in the day, the NNU provided a separate pass addressing economics that we will respond to during our next session.

I will reiterate Emily’s sentiment from last week: to bring this contract to a close we need time at the table. Today, the NNU accepted an additional bargaining date on February 27th, but we are still awaiting a response to the six days in March that UCMC offered during our previous session.

Much like the NNU, and I’m sure each of you, we want to bring these negotiations to a close in our upcoming bargaining sessions.

Between now and then, enjoy the short-lived, but beautiful, spring weather.

Jeff Murphy, DNP, RN, CEN, NEA-BC (he/him/his)
Vice President Comer Children’s Hospital,
Associate Chief Nursing Officer

Bargaining Update #21

Dear Nursing Colleagues,

I had the opportunity to spend today at the bargaining table with the UCMC and NNU Bargaining Teams, where we met four different times and reached a number of agreements on important items that are outlined below.

Let me start by saying: we had very productive conversations today, and I feel incredibly positive about both teams’ ability to voice their concerns and desires for our future collective bargaining agreement. This is momentum that must continue in the days ahead.

Today, the bargaining teams reached multiple Tentative Agreements on: 

  1. Transition to Payment for Future Comp Time for Salaried Nurses (not including UCAN flight nurses) 
    • Salaried nurses will receive extra straight-time pay in lieu of comp time. This time will be tracked based on cumulative hours worked over a two-week schedule. Nurses will be able to use their existing banked comp time for the life of the new CBA and can used this accrued time for approved vacation, sick and medical leave.
  2. Evening and Night Differentials
    • Maintained the current $3.75/hour and $5/hour differentials respectively
  3. Time and Attendance
    • Nurses will receive a 5-minute grace period for clocking-in, which is the current practice
  4. Workplace Violence Prevention
    • UCMC will pay nurses for up to 3 days off if they are injured due to a workplace violence incident or if there’s a credible threat to a nurse’s physical safety. This payment bridges the 3-day waiting period before workers’ compensation applies, if applicable. In addition, NNU will be able to appoint members to the Workplace Violence Prevention Committee and be able to receive NNU nurses’ workplace violence event reports submitted through the hospital’s Event Reporting System.
  5. Union Meeting Facilities
    • UCMC is returning the first floor CCD conference room to the NNU to provide a conveniently located space for membership and other union meetings.
  6. Transfer Language 
    • Nurses in most areas will be allowed to transfer to new roles after 6 months in their current positions (9 months in perioperative and procedural areas; 12 months for new hires)
  7. Labor and Delivery Scrub Team
    •  UCMC will build a specific scrub nurse team in Labor and Delivery where nurses will be paid $2/hour for all scrub shifts worked. This team will receive paid scrub nurse training through AORN Perioperative 101, the program specifically requested by the NNU.

We also made headway on discussions related to our proposed in-network tuition program, our CRNA tuition program, the make-up of the UCMC Nursing Acuity Committee, parking, and the perioperative services’ weekend program. The biggest change on the table to the in-network tuition program is an expanded UCMC proposal that adds all accredited Chamberlain University College of Nursing programs to the network of schools that have 100% tuition reimbursement.

Despite today’s outstanding progress, I am a bit concerned that we only have three more scheduled bargaining dates ahead of us: February 22, March 4 and March 12. We must have the ability for both teams to meet to make progress at the table toward a contract. UCMC’s team has shared additional dates through February and March with the NNU in hopes of agreeing on more dates to continue making progress toward this agreement.

The UCMC bargaining team and I look forward to discussing our progress, proposals, and tentative agreements reached so far during our upcoming Nursing Town Halls on Monday, February 19th at 4pm and Tuesday, February 20th at 8am via Zoom.

Finally, as you know, the NNU has scheduled a strike authorization vote for Tuesday, February 20th. While this is a procedural step, I continue to be hopeful that we can reach and ratify a contractual agreement between both parties without moving toward a strike. But progress toward a contract can only happen at the bargaining table . No one wins in a strike, and it remains our hope to avoid one through good-faith negotiations at the bargaining table and maintaining the incredibly positive momentum, like what we’ve seen today.

Emily Chase, PhD, RN, NE-BC, FACHE
Senior Vice-President, Patient Care Services, Chief Nursing Officer

Bargaining Update #19

Good evening Colleagues,

Today we met for our 19th bargaining session.

Last month, our team asked NNU to identify their economic priorities to help us make continued progress toward an agreement that balances the issues that are most important to UCMC nurses with our institution’s economic realities. We are continuing these important discussions and appreciate NNU’s pass and collaboration. Economic discussion topics that continued today included:

  • Wages/differentials
  • Holidays
  • Vacations
  • Compensation for negotiations
  • Retirement benefits

 Both sides also discussed ways to move a number of outstanding issues forward. These included:

  • Internal transfers
  • Workplace violence
  • Union meeting facilities
  • L&D scrub

We’ll hold our next round of nursing town halls in two weeks, giving you a chance to hear bargaining updates directly from us. As always, Chief Nursing Officer Emily Chase and the UCMC bargaining team will review the progress to date, major proposals that remain on the table, and answer your questions. You should already have calendar invites for these town halls, which will be held:

Tuesday, Feb. 20th at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 21st at 8 a.m.

The remaining February bargaining dates are on the 13th and 22nd. We look forward to continuing today’s momentum and finalizing a fair and fiscally responsible contract.

Thank you,

Alesia Coe, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE
Vice President, Associate Chief Nursing Officer
Adult Inpatient Hospitals & Emergency Services
UChicago Medicine

Bargaining Update #18


Today marks our 18th bargaining session with the NNU and I’m happy to say we had productive discussions on the following topics:

  • Comp time for salaried nurses (excluding Flight nurses)
  • Time and Attendance policy
  • Transfer language related to when a nurse can transfer from one area to another
  • Conference room availability and NNU document storage
  • Labor and Delivery scrub language related to ensuring proper training for nurses, aligned with new hire didactic orientation training offered in the OR

Earlier this month, our team asked NNU to identify their top economic priorities from their initial proposals. That will help us determine how best to put our finite financial resources toward the issues that matter most to UCMC nurses and make continued, meaningful progress to reach a fair and balanced agreement.

Not to sound like a broken record, but we’ve said all along that collective bargaining involves both parties working to reach an agreement on issues, balancing nurses’ needs with those of our patients, community, and the Medical Center as a whole. This process takes time, and this is as true today as it was in September.

I know I speak for the entire UCMC bargaining team when I say we have deep respect for the NNU bargainers. As we saw with this month’s SANE agreement, when our teams work together, we can make meaningful progress that’s good for nurses, good for the Medical Center, and most importantly, good for the patients who rely on us for care.

Our teams will meet again February 7, 13, and 22. We look forward to seeing accelerated progress in the upcoming discussions.

Have a good evening.

Sarah L. Kundrat MSN, RN, NEA-BC
Executive Director, Ambulatory Nursing
Associate Chief Ambulatory Nursing Officer
UChicago Medicine

Bargaining Update #17

Good Evening UCMC Nursing Colleagues:

Today we held our 17th bargaining session with the NNU. UCMC is taking the lead to better understand the NNU’s priorities so both sides can focus on those proposals that matter most to our NNU-represented nurses. In today’s session:

  • UCMC offered priority access to a conveniently located CCD 1st floor conference room for NNU use as needed. There are also other conference rooms under consideration in Comer and off-site Ambulatory areas. NNU has repeatedly stated that access is a top priority and we believe this is a fair compromise that meets their needs while recognizing space constraints.
  • UCMC and NNU continue to discuss the Transfer language for nurses transferring to other units.
  • UCMC proposed that all NNU-represented nurses working the evening shift will receive monthly parking access in Garage A or B. UCMC also proposed that represented nurses’ current monthly parking rates for garages A or B would not increase for the life of the contract and the Medical Center would agree to maintain the percentage of available NNU parking spaces in those garages as of the start of the 2024 agreement.
  • For the L&D Scrub Team, UCMC proposed that all L&D scrub staff will be offered the opportunity to enroll in the AORN training.

Both sides have floated a number of proposals on a myriad of topics through these four months of bargaining. We are happy to have reached so many tentative agreements and believe there is opportunity to accelerate the momentum at the table. We remain hopeful that we will continue to have productive sessions and move closer towards an agreement that balances the needs of our nurses, patients, colleagues, and community.

We are scheduled to bargain again next Tuesday January 30th, as well as future confirmed dates of February 7th, February 13th and February 22nd. We look forward to ongoing productive conversations and progression toward more tentative agreements.

Have a great evening all!

Sally Walton, DNP, MBA, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, FACHE,
Associate Chief Nursing Officer,
Executive Director, Patient Care Services

Bargaining Update #16

UCMC Nursing Team:

Today we completed our 16th bargaining session with the NNU bargaining team.

When I started at UCM in 2018, one of the first projects (or challenges perhaps) I chose to work on was the creation of a dedicated SANE team for both of our emergency departments.  Let me be clear, I did not achieve that goal, but some much smarter, passionate people that followed did.  So, it was especially meaningful for me to be a part of the team that reached a tentative agreement and side letter on the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program with the NNU bargaining team.

This is an accomplishment and means we will be able to implement the changes now, allowing us to make marked progress in developing what, I believe, will be the model program in Illinois and to deliver better care to our patients. This means we will begin to develop a SANE call pool, provide our SANE team member their differential, and begin to recruit for our regular SANE positions.

In addition to the SANE agreement both our team and the NNU team responded to previous proposals.   The NNU provided a response to economic proposals late in the day today that we will respond to during our next bargaining session.

We continue to make progress on these proposals.

I know this may not sound like earth-shattering progress, but I would draw your attention back to our original guiding principles shared after our first session – the process is deliberate and slow – but continues to move forward.

I’m going to wax a little philosophical for a moment.  This SANE agreement is an example of what groups of passionate, caring people can achieve.  It spoke to my nursing soul – and we all need that every now and again. Each member of the bargaining team approached this with our patents and nursers interests in mind.  I want to recognize Scott Mechanic and Brandi McNally for their advocacy for both our community and their peers.

Stay warm,


Jeff Murphy, DNP, RN, CEN, NEA-BC
Vice President Comer Children’s Hospital
Associate Chief Nursing Officer
UChicago Medicine