CHICAGO -- More than 800 nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago walked off the job Saturday morning after contract negotiations broke down over nurse-to-patient ratios.
Dozens of nurses began picketing around the hospital at 7 a.m. after more than 20 bargaining sessions.
Around 1,300 nurses originally planned to walk off the job, but a judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday limiting that number after the hospital filed a lawsuit citing patient safety concerns.
The nurses argue there needs to be a set limit on how many patients a single nurse is treating at any one time, while the hospital believes a set nurse to patient ratios do not work.
"We have two decades of research to support that having adequate nurses at the bedside, will prevent falls, will prevent infections, will prevent deaths, in a hospital mind you "" said Doris Carroll, president of the Illinois Nurses Association and a University of Illinois Health nurse.
Michael Zenn, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital, said in a written statement: UI Health will do everything reasonably within our power to avert a strike and are prepared to continue bargaining for as long as it takes to reach a successful agreement with INA... UI Health values and respects the critical role our nurses and other healthcare professionals in providing vital care for our community. We are hopeful that both parties will reach a fair and equitable new contract that continues our tradition of generous wages and fair working conditions for our valuable nursing colleagues, while being fiscally sustainable for the Hospital.