The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Nurses’ Union Reach New Contract With UCM, Call Off Strike

After having previously reached 26 tentative agreements on individual issues with UChicago Medical Center, National Nurses United members voted to approve a new contract on March 12 and 13.
Members+of+National+Nurses+United+demonstrate+outside+of+the+University+of+Chicago+Medical+Center+in+Hyde+Park.
National Nurses United
Members of National Nurses United demonstrate outside of the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park.

In a vote on March 12 and 13, National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) voted to ratify a new contract with the UChicago Medical Center (UCM). The new contract was reached after NNOC/NNU announced their plan to strike on March 14, which was called off due to a tentative contract agreement being reached with UCM on March 11.

The four-year contract will address issues surrounding staffing and safety concerns and will involve wage increases “from 20 percent up to 40 percent over the life of the contract,” according to a March 15 press release by NNOC/NNU.

“We are so proud of what we have been able to accomplish for our patients with this new contract,” said NNOC/NNU nurse Pam Valentine in the press release. “This contract includes numerous provisions that we believe will translate into better recruitment and retention of experienced nurses who are critical in providing the highest quality of care to our patients. In addition, we have new processes in place to address the chronic understaffing that has led to many nurses leaving UChicago.”

NNOC/NNU represents 2,800 nurses employed by UCM in all three of its Hyde Park-based hospitals as well as in its other healthcare facilities. The union has been in negotiations with UCM since September 2023. They reached 26 tentative agreements, each on an individual issue, before reaching this comprehensive agreement.

In a March 11 press release posted to NNOC/NNU’s website, bargaining team member and registered nurse Stephanie Gamboa said, “Our decision to call a strike forced management to address a number of our outstanding demands at the bargaining table.”

Before the strike had been called off, both UCM and NNOC/NNU told The Maroon that they wanted to avoid a strike.

Jason Smith, who has worked in the adult emergency department and been a member of the nurses’ union for 14 years, spoke with The Maroon in an interview.

“Nobody wins in a strike,” Smith said. “The patients suffer, we suffer, the hospital suffers, which is why we’ve been working for months… to get our voices heard about the issues we’ve been having with safety. And the last thing we wanted to do is strike. We do want to make sure that we are there for our patients. We are the best ones that are capable of taking care of them.”

UCM expressed a similar sentiment in a statement to The Maroon before the agreement had been reached.

“To be clear, no one wins in a strike,” UCM’s statement said. “Not our nurses, not the Medical Center, and certainly not our patients and the South Side community that relies on us for care. We all know the real work of reaching a contract is accomplished at the bargaining table and hope the union agrees to more bargaining dates in March.”

UCM also emphasized its quality of care and spoke to efforts addressing staffing shortages.

“Patient care and safety are UCM’s top priority,” the statement continued. “We are repeatedly recognized as among the safest hospitals in the nation, and recently received our 24th consecutive A grade in safety from the prestigious, independent Leapfrog Group. We’ve developed new processes to make sure we’re continuing to work collaboratively with nurses to develop staffing plans to meet patients’ needs, in real time.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5463
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation makes the work of student journalists of University of Chicago possible and allows us to continue serving the UChicago and Hyde Park community.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Tiffany Li
Tiffany Li, Developer
Tiffany Li is a member of the Class of 2026 after transferring from Middlebury College. She studies political science and economics and is interested in housing policy, international relations, and music. She reports for the News section of The Maroon and is on the Video and Data teams.
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5463
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Chicago Maroon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *