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UChicago nurses schedule strike vote due to unresolved patient safety concerns

Registered nurses at UChicago Medicine will hold a strike vote on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, which would authorize the bargaining team to call a strike if management does not address staffing concerns which lead to patient safety issues, announced National Nurses United (NNU) today.  

“Right now we are deeply concerned that management is not addressing fundamental issues in staffing that directly affect patient care,” said Scott Mechanic, a registered nurse in the emergency room. “We know that in fiscal year 2022, our nurses recorded having missed 244,946 lunches – which is equivalent to roughly 86 missed meals per nurse for that year. Imagine working 12 hours straight in a high-volume, high-stress emergency room without stopping to rest or refuel? We cannot provide the highest quality of care when we are running on fumes. We deserve better and our patients deserve better.”  “More than 400 nurses came out for our informational picket in January – in negative 8 degree temperatures!” continued Mechanic.  

“Unfortunately, in the two sessions held after that picket, management made no significant movement to address our core staffing issues. Now we on the bargaining team feel we have no choice but to schedule a strike vote. It is up to nurses to decide to authorize the bargaining team to call a strike. We want the university to understand, if they do not address our patient safety concerns, a strike is not off the table.”  

Who: UChicago nurses to hold strike vote and rally  

When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, Rally 12:30 p.m. 

Where: UChicago Medicine (UCMC), 5800 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago, Ill., 60616  

“Staffing for Mitchell nurses still is a significant concern. We are seeking relief in the form of charge nurses to not be assigned a patient so they can be a resource to nurses on their units, “ said Lea Sargent King, a registered nurse at Mitchell Hospital. “Nurses at Mitchell Hospital care for a large percentage of vulnerable Medicaid patients, and we see this deliberate understaffing is a form of systemic discrimination that does the deepest harm to those with the fewest resources.”  

Nurses are also demanding that UChicago Medicine put in place incentives that will address the retention issues that led to hundreds of nurses leaving at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“When Covid first emerged, we were battling an invisible enemy that seemed relentless, and we bore a significant burden in the crisis,” said Amber Turi, a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit. “We put our lives and the lives of our families on the line. We worked on locked units where no one else would go. No environmental services, no food service, no EKG techs, no supplies. Month after month we dealt with this. UChicago refused to consider retention compensation during this difficult time, even though it was being offered at other hospitals. We lost over 60 percent of our unit in that time. We know experienced nurses are critical to patient care and we need to set into place protections to keep our nurses at UChicago.”  

NNU represents 2,800 nurses at UChicago Medicine.,  

The National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates also include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and New York State Nurses Association., 

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