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Message to Staff: INA Negotiation Update – Let’s Keep Talking

September 11, 2020

Dear Nursing Colleagues:

It was a busy couple of weeks for bargaining–between September 2 and today, UI Health and the INA met for five full days and exchanged numerous proposals with the support of federal mediators. While we made some progress, we have not yet reached agreement on a new contract. We remain committed to addressing key issues important to both the union and the hospital and believe much can be resolved through further dialogue. We have offered to meet all evening, all weekend, as long as it takes, to resolve the outstanding issues and reach a fair and equitable agreement.

Our nurses are critical to UI Health’s mission of clinical excellence and safe patient care. We respect and appreciate the hard work of our nursing team every single day, and especially during the challenges of the COVID pandemic. We are all in this together as nurses and we truly care for our team.

When it comes to the top issues that matter to nurses—compensation, staffing, and safety and security—we have made substantive offers that would lead to meaningful benefits for nurses:


  • Our nurses deserve top compensation and they receive it. On average, UI Health nurses earn over $20,000 a year more in base hourly compensation than their counterparts.
  • We have offered a continuation of annual anniversary increases, which average 2.44%, as well as up to 2% in incentive increases each year—plus a $2,000 bonus for nurses at the top step and an increase to evening and on-call differentials.
  • All this would ensure UI Health nurses remain in the top 10% for pay compared to their peers in Chicago, Illinois and throughout the U.S.


  • From the beginning of the pandemic, we have followed the latest scientific guidelines from local and national public health officials, and in many cases we have implemented recommendations that go beyond the CDC guidelines:
    • On March 27, we were one of the first hospitals in Chicago to implement universal masking of all patients and staff, with fit-tested N95 masks available to staff interacting with COVID or suspected COVID patients.
    • On April 22, we made non-fit tested KN95 masks available to all staff.
    • On June 29, we also began providing face shields for all employees.
  • We continue to monitor the guidelines and our supplies to ensure that we are well prepared to care for patients and staff today and in the future.This includes partnering with the INA and the SEIU to request additional support from our elected officials to ensure supply chain availability of needed PPE—in particular, N95 masks.
  • UI Health is committed to leading the country in expanding use of PPE when the acute national shortage is resolved.

Safety and Disaster Preparedness

  • We proposed to establish a Workplace Violence Prevention Committee to identify and formulate strategies to decrease hazards. We would provide all nurses the opportunity to participate in annual training related to health and safety, such as workplace violence prevention and violence de-escalation.
  • In the event of future disasters or emergencies, we would continue to partner with the INA to retain open lines of communication, review and discuss disaster staffing changes, and consider all INA input regarding disaster-related decision-making and implementation.

Staffing for Safe Patient Care

  • Our plan includes continued use of a patient acuity‐based staffing model with significant enhancements to improve the nursing experience.
    • Workforce Optimization – Beyond our current practices, we will utilize consultants with a multidisciplinary team to help develop criteria for Level of Care; we will enhance our FLEX/FLOAT Team by increasing  FTE’s; we will also use an incentive‐based four TIERED Registry program.
    • Patient acuity measurement and assignments — Implement a new acuity tool that uses standard documentation for scoring.  We also plan to use our Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) forms allowing direct patient care nurses to have a voice in staffing decisions by way of the Nursing Care Committee.  The Nursing Care Committee will give input on applications for specific patient assignments and thresholds.
    • iShift – Moving away from manual staffing need notification, to technology‐based notification to improve our ability to address unplanned absences and get staff “just in time.” Specifically, we will use an SMS system (text messages) for real‐time notification via mobile device of upcoming available shifts. Staff can accept shifts and be scheduled with one click on their phone. Messages will be based on each nurse’s competency/track, and those participating in the four tiered registry will receive compensation based on their chosen registry tier. Available bonuses for surge staffing will be communicated. Messages will be sent both upon posting of new schedules and with daily unanticipated needs due to changes in patient volumes or staff absences. Nurses can opt out of receiving text messages at any time.

 A complete list of our proposals can be found below and attached.

These are challenging times and we need our nurses more than ever. The generous offers summarized above reflect our respect and commitment to supporting our nurses, while recognizing challenging economic realities laid bare by the COVID pandemic.

UI Health recognizes, and fully supports the right of our nurses to decide whether to strike or come to work. This is a decision that each nurse needs to make for themselves in consultation with their families and loved ones.  We support all our nurses and will continue to support them whether they go on strike or not.  We also feel that you deserve to know the facts before you make this decision, and decide on your own whether a strike during these times and given the offer on the table is in the best interests of nurses, patients as well as the hospital and community at large.

As always, if you have questions about any of our proposals and what they would mean for your position, please feel free to contact your Senior Director or ACNO.


Sheila Cook, MS, RN, ACNS‐BC
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Patient Experience

Ruby Darlene Evans, MSN, RN, MT, CPHQ
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Nursing Quality & Clinical Professional Practice Development

Robin Garrett, BSN, RN, CNOR
Senior Director, Perioperative Services

Phyllis Grice, MSN, RN
Senior Director of Operations

Tiesa Hughes‐Dillard, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA‐BC
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Division of Med‐Surg, Dialysis & Pastoral Care

DeLisa Jeffries, MS, MPH, BSN, RN
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Ambulatory Services

Rani Morrison, MS, MSW, LCSW, ACM, FACHE
Senior Director, Care Continuum

Doreen Norris‐Stojak, MS, RN, NEA‐BC
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Women & Children’s Health & Psychiatry

Lisa Potts, DNP, RN
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Nursing Informatics and Nursing Resources Office

Jill Stemmerman, DNP, RN, CENP
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Division of Critical Care, CDU & Diagnostics

Jacquelyn Whitten, DNP, RN
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Emergency Services & Patient Logistics

Shelly Major, PhD, RN, NEA‐BC, FACHE
Chief Nursing Officer