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Cook County reaches labor pact with nurses

Friday, June 23, 2006
Crain's Chicago Business
by Mike Colias

(Crain’s) - Cook County on Friday reached a tentative agreement with its nurses
union, which had threatened to stage a one-day strike on June 30 if a deal had
not been reached. 
The National Nurses Organizing Committee says details of the pact won’t be
disclosed until after its 1,800 members vote on it next week. In a statement,
the union said the agreement “achieves parity in compensation” with other
hospitals in the Chicago area, preserves members’ health benefits and gives
registered nurses a greater say in patient-care decisions. 
“We have set a new standard for RNs in Illinois,” Diane Ellis, a nurse at John
Stroger Hospital, said in a statement. 
Jonathan Rothstein, the county’s special assistant for labor relations, called
the pact “a fair and equitable contract” and said details would be released if
it’s ratified. 
The tentative deal covers nurses who work throughout Cook County’s health
system, which includes Stroger Hospital, the county jail and other medical
Union members in March voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if negotiators
couldn’t reach a deal. The sides had been in talks since last fall over pay,
staffing levels, health benefits and other terms. 
The union had set a walkout for Friday, but pushed it back one week to June 30
while talks continued. 
Cook County nurses voted in May 2005 to switch their union representation,
leaving the Illinois Nurses Association in favor of the NNOC, a labor group
founded by the California Nurses Association.

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