2020 University of Illinois Hospital strikes

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2020 University of Illinois Hospital strikes
DateSeptember 12–24, 2020
(12 days)
Location
Goals
Methods
Resulted inNew labor contracts approved by union members
Parties to the civil conflict

The 2020 University of Illinois Hospital strikes were two related labor strikes that occurred at the University of Illinois Hospital (UIH) in Chicago, Illinois, United States, in September 2020.

The background for both strikes stemmed from negotiations over labor contracts between the hospital and two unions, the Illinois Nurses Association (INA) and Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The unions had been negotiating for new contracts for several months, but neither could come to an agreement with the hospital. In mid-September, both unions declared their intent to strike, citing unfair labor practices. The INA began their strike on September 12, while Local 73 began their strike on September 14. Both strikes involved several hundred workers from each union, though court rulings limited the total number of union members allowed to strike by several hundred. Goals shared by both unions included increased staffing, increased pay, and greater access to personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On September 19, INA announced an end to their strike, stating that progress had been made towards new contract agreements. On September 23, SEIU and the union came to a tentative agreement on a new contract, with their strike ending the following day. That same day, the INA announced a tentative agreement with the hospital. Both unions voted to accept their respective contracts by October.

Background[edit]

Illinois Nurses Association[edit]

On August 24, 2020, a labor contract between the Illinois Nurses Association (INA) and the University of Illinois Hospital (UIH) in Chicago was set to expire.[1] In the leadup to the expiration, over 20 bargaining sessions were held between the union and hospital regarding a replacement to the three-year contract.[2] A deal between the two groups was not reached by August 24, and subsequently the contract was extended to September 7.[1] The biggest issue regarding the negotiations pertained to nurse-to-patient ratios, with union representatives arguing for limits to the total number of patients a single nurse must be responsible for.[1][2][3] Additional issues were related to higher pay and the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.[4][5] A September 2020 article in the Chicago Sun-Times claimed that approximately 270 UIH workers had contracted COVID-19 by that time.[6] Multiple sources claimed that the hospital was resistant to changing their policy on nurse-to-patient ratios, stating "set nurse-to-patient ratios do not work."[2][4]

On August 19, the union voted to approve a seven-day strike,[6][7] with 995 nurses voting in favor and 12 voting against.[8] On September 2, citing unfair labor practices,[8] they filed a notice ten days in advance of their intent to strike on September 12.[6][9] At the time of the announcement, the INA released a statement saying, "Barring a breakthrough in negotiations between nurses and the University of Illinois Hospital, more than 1,300 nurses will begin a seven-day strike at 7 a.m. on Saturday, September 12th".[9] On September 8, the board of trustees for the University of Illinois system filed a lawsuit with the Circuit Court of Cook County to prevent the strike from occurring, claiming that, because of the important services provided by the hospital, the strike "would constitute a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public."[10] On September 11, the day before the strike was scheduled to commence, a judge granted a temporary restraining order against some select nurses, preventing them from striking.[1] While approximately 1,300[2] or 1,400[1] nurses had previously been expected to go on strike, the ruling barred 525 nurses from strike action, leading to estimates of more than 800 strikers.[2] That same day, union representatives and hospital officials engaged in a 14-hour long bargaining session which ended at an impasse.[6]

Service Employees International Union[edit]

Around the same time that issues between the INA and UIH were coming to a head, the hospital was undergoing contract negotiations with Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which included many clerical, maintenance, and technical workers for the hospital.[11] An article published by the Chicago Sun-Times in late September claimed that the SEIU and hospital had participated in over 50 bargaining sessions over the course of several months at that point.[12] On September 3, citing unfair labor practices,[13] SEIU Local 73 submitted a notice ten days in advance of their intent to strike.[11] The notice came after the union reported that 94% of the workers voted to approve a strike action.[13] At the time of the announcement, Local 73 members had been working without a contract for about a year.[14] According to the union, their demands included instituting a base pay of $15 per hour, increasing the availabilities of masks and N95s, and protections against outsourcing, among other issues.[13]

On September 11, a restraining order, similar to the one for the INA, prevented approximately 300 SEIU members from participating.[15]

Course of the strikes[edit]

The strike began on September 12, with 800 nurses walking out.[1][2] It was the first walkout the UIH had experienced in 46 years.[16] Starting at 7 a.m., strikers joined a picket line outside the hospital in the Near West Side, with U.S. Representative Jesús "Chuy" García showing support for the strikers by wearing a blue polo shirt and a University of Illinois at Chicago alumni hat.[6] Despite unfavorable weather conditions, the picketing lasted until 10 p.m.[17] That same day, in a story aired by WLS-TV, union officials accused UIC of preparing to bring in strikebreakers.[17] On September 14, at 6 a.m., members of the SEIU Local 73 went on strike.[15][18] 1,700 members were from the UIH in Chicago, while a total of approximately 3,800 SEIU members went on strike at UIH facilities in Champaign, Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford.[15] On the morning of the following day, political activist Jesse Jackson joined the picket lines in support of the strikers. Later that day, negotiations resumed between INA and hospital representatives.[4] On September 18, strikers marched in Downtown Chicago from Millennium Park to the Illinois Governor's offices at the James R. Thompson Center to call on support from Governor J. B. Pritzker. Additional protesting continued in the Illinois Medical District.[19]

On September 19, after several days of striking, the INA ended their strike action, with nurses returning to work that day.[14][20][21] According to INA representatives, union and hospital officials had been meeting every evening for the past week in an attempt to come to an agreement.[14] However, at the time of the strike's end, there was no contract agreement reached between UIH and the INA.[20][21] Despite this, INA officials claimed they were confident in coming to an agreement with the hospital and cited achievements in the negotiations, such as the hospital claiming they would provide more PPE for nurses and hire an additional 200 nurses to improve the nurse to patient ratio.[14]

On September 23, the SEIU and hospital came to a tentative agreement on a new labor contract.[12] Agreements between the hospital and SEIU included protections against outsourcing, increased PPE, and a $15 hourly minimum wage for all workers in Chicago.[22] SEIU officials called the strike off the following day.[22][23] That same day, the INA and hospital officials reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract. Provisions of the new contract included hazard pay during the COVID-19 pandemic, hiring an additional 160 nurses to help with staffing, and guarantees to providing more PPE. Additionally, nurses would receive a 1% annual wage increase that would rise to 2% after four years. Union members were expected to begin voting on the contract on September 28.[12] By October 1, the contract had been approved by INA members, with a vote of 842 to 13.[24] On October 6, SEIU announced that a majority of their members had approved their new contract with UIH.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Moreno, J. Edward (September 12, 2020). "Over 800 nurses in Chicago hospital strike over failed contract negotiations". The Hill. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "More Than 800 Nurses Begin Strike at Chicago Hospital". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. September 12, 2020. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  3. ^ De Mar, Charlie (September 7, 2020). "UIC Nurses Say They Have Felt Disrespected During COVID-19 Pandemic, Plan To Strike". WBBM-TV. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "U of I Hospital nurses' strike reaches day 4, negotiations resume, Rev. Jesse Jackson joins picket line". WLS-TV. September 15, 2020. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  5. ^ McAdams, Alexis (September 14, 2020). "U of I Hospital nurses' strike continues, with SEIU Local 73 workers join picket lines". WLS-TV. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Kenney, Madeline (September 12, 2020). "Nurses launch seven-day strike at University of Illinois Hospital". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Yan, Jade (August 20, 2020). "University of Illinois Hospital nurses OK strike over patient loads". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on August 22, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Nurses Union Put Out Strike Notice For UI Health". WBBM-TV. September 2, 2020. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Dudek, Mitch (September 2, 2020). "University of Illinois Hospital nurses set strike date". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 16, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  10. ^ Camarillo, Emmanuel (September 8, 2020). "Lawsuit seeks halt to planned strike of University of Illinois Hospital nurses". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 17, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Amiridis, Michael D.; Barish, Robert A.; Coronado, John; Zenn, Michael B. (September 3, 2020). "SEIU Local 73 files 10-Day Notice of Intent to Strike". UIC Today. University of Illinois at Chicago. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Chase, Brett (September 24, 2020). "Nurses, University of Illinois Hospital reach agreement after strike". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 12, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  13. ^ a b c "After 94% Vote to Strike, UIC Workers Deliver Strike Notice to UIC". SEIU Local 73. September 3, 2020. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d "U of I Hospital nurses return to work with no deal following week-long strike". WLS-TV. September 19, 2020. Archived from the original on October 4, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Asplund, Jon (September 14, 2020). "SEIU workers to join UI Health nurses in strike • Cook County Health wants an extra $23M • Palos Health to join Northwestern Medicine". Crain's Chicago Business. Crain Communications. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  16. ^ Osborne, Lillian (September 16, 2020). "Chicago Health Care Workers on Strike for Safe Staffing, $15 Minimum, PPE". Labor Notes. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  17. ^ a b Kirsch, Jesse (September 13, 2020). "Nurses strike enters 2nd day after more than 800 walk off job at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago". WLS-TV. Archived from the original on September 30, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  18. ^ Dudek, Mitch (September 14, 2020). "3,700 support staff join nurses on strike at University of Illinois Hospital". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on December 30, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  19. ^ Jimenez, Abdel (September 18, 2020). "University of Illinois at Chicago nurses and service workers march downtown as part of days-long strike". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Armentrout, Mitchell (September 19, 2020). "University of Illinois nurses end strike, return to work without new deal—but 'confident' one is close". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 3, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Nurses end strike at University of Illinois Hospital". The Pantagraph. Lee Enterprises. Associated Press. September 20, 2020. Archived from the original on November 5, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Smith, Mike (September 24, 2020). "SEIU Local 73 members end strike after 'tentative agreements' with University of Illinois in Chicago". WMBD-TV. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  23. ^ "Striking SEIU Local 73 Members at UIC Are Victorious". SEIU Local 73. September 24, 2020. Archived from the original on October 29, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  24. ^ Chase, Brett (October 1, 2020). "Nurses approve contract with University of Illinois Hospital". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 21, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2021.
  25. ^ Nadine, Laura (October 7, 2020). "SEIU Local 73, Illinois Nurses Association reach deals with University of Illinois". Liberation News. Party for Socialism and Liberation. Archived from the original on October 27, 2020. Retrieved March 13, 2021.