UIC nurses plan strike for Saturday morning

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Amid negotiations falling flat with the University of Illinois at Chicago, members of the Illinois Nursing Association are planning a strike for Saturday morning.

“We are preparing for a strike tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.,” UIC nurse Jeanette Alvarez-Basem said.

“Negotiations with management at the hospital have broken down on several levels,” Alvarez-Basem said.

Thousands of nurses at the hospital feel overworked, with too many patients per nurse and low pay. Nurses will not get a yearly pay increase on the current contract, and are only eligible for merit-based increases after three years.

The negotiations are not new for UIC nurses, who have been bargaining with the hospital for 15 months.

“We are fighting for fair wages. For no discrimination. For the equipment to do our jobs,” Cathleen Jensen said, an occupational therapist at the hospital.

Jensen is a member of Service Employees International Union Local 73, who also plan to strike beginning on Monday, with 4,000 workers expected to picket.

When it comes to fighting for better wages for all employees, striking workers said there is little room to bargain.

“There’s been a long practice at the University of Illinois to raise the base rate for workers to attract new workers to come in, then leave their existing workers at their same salaries,” Jensen said.

Both unions pledge to strike until their demands are met.

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