Planned nursing strike again closes UChicago Medical Center trauma programs, hospital says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The University of Chicago Medical Center has closed its busy Level 1 trauma center in anticipation of a nursing strike for the second time in two months, according to hospital officials.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United, which represents 2,200 nurses at the Hyde Park facility, is planning a strike, starting Tuesday, hospital spokeswoman Ashley M. Heher said in a statement. The hospital said nurses won't return until Dec. 1 at the earliest.

The pediatric trauma program closed Monday, and the adult program closed Wednesday. The facility's emergency rooms remain open.

"We are acutely aware of the vital role we play in providing critical services to the South Side," UCMC President Sharon O'Keefe said.

Nurses carried out a similar strike in September over pay and staffing levels, which lasted five days.

RELATED: Nurses return to work at University of Chicago Medical Center following strike

This time around the union is focusing on a practice called incentive pay, according to hospital officials. It provides a 20% increase in nurses' base hourly pay rate once they have worked 24 hours in a week.

In its latest proposal, UCMC offered to continue incentive pay for current inpatient nurses who receive it, but wants to end the practice for new hires, the statement said. The union wants to maintain and expand the practice, according to the hospital.

UCMC has offered to raise its base salary increase proposal if the union will compromise on issues such as this, the statement said.

No agreement had been reached as of Wednesday, but both sides have been meeting with a federal mediator, and bargaining sessions are set for Thursday and Friday.
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