Registered nurses voted late Thursday to move forward with plans to strike at the University of Illinois hospital on the West Side after their contract expires later this month.
Nurses voted 609 to 38 to authorize a strike after their three-year deal expires on Oct. 21.
This was the second vote that was needed to make a strike official, said Chris Martin, a spokesman for the Illinois Nurses Association.
The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, 1740 W. Taylor St, has said the hospital has a contingency plan in place if there is a strike, but has not provided additional details.
“We are disappointed that despite progress in the discussions the [Illinois Nurses Association] leadership has chosen to call a strike vote,”Avijit Ghosh, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital said in a statement. “We value the critical role nurses play in providing patient care and are committed to working to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”
The nurses’ last contract with the hospital, a three-year deal, had expired and was recently extended to Oct. 21.
Voting nurses said the hospital is seeking numerous concessions that will threaten patient care. They are asking for a series of changes related to staffing and scheduling changes, such as more notice whenever a scheduling change is made.
“If you add the additional mental and physical pressure of an ever-changing work schedule that can be changed on short notice, the nurses are being stressed even further,” Alice J. Johnson, executive director association, said in a news release.
The nurses have also said that the hospital has made it clear that it intends to cut the number of experienced nurses providing direct patient care — a move that they argue could put patients at risk. But Ghosh has said the hospital has “no current plans to layoff nurses.”
Both sides said negotiations with each other are ongoing, but Martin noted that little progress has been made. According to the hospital, they said they’ve had fifteen meetings with the nurses, and more are scheduled in the coming weeks.