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UIC Nurses Say They Have Felt Disrespected During COVID-19 Pandemic, Plan To Strike

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Nurses on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic were demanding changes Monday night, or else they said they would walk off the job.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the nurses rallied Monday night at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. They said they feel disrespected and are going on strike.

Those nurses, of course, have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

This strike all stems from contract negations that have fallen through.

On Monday night, nurses lit candles outside the hospital while remembering the lives of UIC Hospital nurses who have died from COVID-19.

These nurses are unhappy with the status of their current contract, which expired in August, but was extended until September.

The Illinois Nurses Assocation said they have sat at the table with hospital leadership 20 times beginning earlier this summer.

One of the biggest sticking points for the nurses is setting a limit on the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse's policy known as safe patient limits.

The nurses said they will strike this coming Saturday for one week.

One nurse who got emotional as we spoke said after treating COVID-19 patients day in and day out without the proper personal protective equipment, they deserve everything they are asking for.

She said the strike is necessary.

"It means that we need respect. It means to be heard from the rooftop that they cannot believe that not giving us what we need," said nurse Jessica Alvarez-Basem. "We are demanding what we need, not necessarily what we want. And they are going to say we don't deserve these things, but they are absolutely wrong."

"I just want the administration to realize what kind of nurses you have. You have nurses truly willing to risk their life for the greater good," said nurse Debreshia Anderson. "So I ask everyone to stand with us, administration – please, open your eyes."

UI Health said in a statement that they are committed to reaching a fair deal and will do everything they can to try to avoid a strike. But it appears these nurses about 1,300 in all are going through with that plan on Saturday.



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