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University of Chicago RNs Approve New Contract, Praise ‘Safer Staffing,’ ‘Improved Respect’

Press Release Press Release, 6/3/11

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For Immediate Release
June 3, 2011

University of Chicago Medical Center registered nurses have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new collective bargaining contract with the University, National Nurses United said today.
 
The RNs voted Wednesday and Thursday on the new agreement that they say  achieves the nurses’ main negotiating goals with major improvements in patient care protections and economic and workplace standards for the RNs, as well as rejecting all of the hospital’s concessionary demands.
 
"This contract brings new hope and light for the RNs at UCMC, including safer staffing language, strong direct care nurse committees and improved respect for RNs when we act collectively," said Muriel Lee, RN who works in the hospital’s  Multispecialty Unit.
 
"After working at UCMC for 24 years, I believed that it was time for change,” said Pediatrics RN Brigitt Manson.  “As a strong national RN union, NNU made change possible by building our knowledge, solidarity, strength and power."
 
The settlement affects 1,300 UCMC RNs who voted last year to join NNU, the nation’s largest union and professional association of RNs, representing 170,000 RNs across the U.S.
 
Major elements of the agreement include:

  • A commitment to employ 16 new patient care support nurses positions to provide coverage so RNs can take meal and rest breaks, and to assist with admissions, discharges and other needs.
  • Creation of a new Professional Practice Committee of RNs, elected by their peers, to strengthen the voice of the UCMC RNs in meeting with management on patient care issues with specific timetables for management action on patient care concerns raised by the RNs.   
  • Substantial limits on a mandatory scheduling policy that forces nurses to continually shift between working days and nights, a major goal of the RNs in contract talks.   
  • Pay increases of at least 15 percent over the next three years.
  • Limits on out of pocket costs for healthcare benefits.
  • Preference to regular UCMC RNs over agency nurses in scheduling when census, the number of patients in the hospital, is low.
  • Rejection of concession demands for reductions for the RNs in wage scales, tuition reimbursement, sick leave provisions and other areas.

This agreement will make a difference in lives of UCMC RNs and countless patients,” said Talisa Hardin, ICU RN and member of the negotiating team. “We chose to be part of a powerful and effective national RN union and that decision is what made this possible," Hardin said.

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