U of C Medical Center nurses go on first-ever strike

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CHICAGO — The University of Chicago Medical Center hit the picket lines Friday for its first-ever nursing strike.

Around 2,200 National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United(NNOC/NNU)-represented nurses began the strike at 7 a.m. Nurses on duty were ushered out by security ahead of the official start of the strike, and hundreds of temporary replacements stepped in.

The nurses said they are striking because of the breakdown of contract negotiations between their union and the hospital.

The facility will remain on ambulance bypass mode and some units are closed.

Although the nurses say the strike will last only a day, hospital officials have told the nurses to stay away until Wednesday because temporary nurses have been contracted to take their places until then.

The nurses have been without a contract since April. They're seeking lower nurse-to-patient ratios and say they're being forced to work overtime.

In preparation for the strike, the 618-bed hospital reduced services. Chief nurse Debra Albert says the hospital moved dozens of babies and children under intensive care to other hospitals.

Talks will resume next Wednesday when union nurses are expected to return to work.

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