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UI Hospital seeks to block some nurses from striking
University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics has gone to court in Cook County to keep some critical care nurses from taking part in a seven-day walkou

Wednesday, September 09, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by Jon Asplund

University of Illinois Hospital wants a court order to keep certain critical care nurses from joining their fellow nurses in striking Sept. 12.

The Illinois Nurses Association gave a 10-day strike notice Sept. 2, saying UI Health’s 1,300 nurses would walk out Saturday for seven days. Nurses say they are seeking protections from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as adequate personal protective equipment and an agreement on what constitutes safe staffing levels. The union says the lawsuit will not deter its members.

 

“We are in the midst of a pandemic, and maintaining adequate staffing for critical health care functions is even more urgent in these times,” Michael Zenn, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital & Clinics, said in a statement. “Should a work stoppage occur, we must be prepared to continue safe patient care and ongoing operations.”

The hospital is not seeking to keep all union nurses from striking, but the statement from Zenn said it “has narrowly identified certain units and/or titles who it believes would create a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the public should they be allowed to strike. It is seeking temporary restraining orders through the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, the statement said.

A statement from the INA said the lawsuit will not prevent nurses from moving forward with their unfair-labor-practice act strike Saturday.

“It is worth noting that the lawsuit alleges UIH nurses should not be allowed to strike because they are irreplaceable,” the statement said. “Yet UIH refuses to offer protections from the pandemic such as adequate PPE and enforceable safe staffing standards.”

The union says UI Health is trying to muzzle its nurses and that the strike is based on what the union says are unfair labor practices, “motivated in part by UIH's failure to bargain in good faith.” The statement said UI Health has engaged in delaying tactics during contract negotiations and now asks the court to prohibit a strike that is in protest of those delay tactics.

The system said it is prepared to continue bargaining for as long as it takes to reach a successful agreement with INA.

“The UI Health team has been engaged in extensive bargaining with INA in an effort to avoid a strike,” the statement from Zenn said. “We have met 20 times since June 9, and additional sessions are scheduled for today, tomorrow and Friday.”

 
 


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