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UChicago Ingalls Nurses WIN First Contract:  
Four-year deal focuses on equity, recruitment, and retention 

Ingalls nurses tried to organize a union many times over the years, and in October 2019, they finally won their NLRB election. Little did they know when they started bargaining for their first contract that they were also about to face one of the toughest years in nursing history with the emergence of the deadly COVID-19 epidemic.  (continued below)

Nurses who were fighting to improve staffing and increase benefits soon found themselves also fighting for protective gear and for engineering controls to reduce their exposure to the disease. Ingalls was struggling with retaining nursing staff who were being overworked and not given adequate PPE. UChicago Ingalls Nurses discovered they were being infected with COVID at three times the rate than their peers at UChicago’s Hyde Park Medical Center. So they organized a press conference and an informational picket over the summer and demanded that “Ingalls, Clean Up Your Act”. They succeeded in getting improved access to PPE, but the employer still refused to agree to proposals to improve staffing. In the fall, nurses did a wage study and discovered that Ingalls was paying racially disparate wages – with nurses of color earning on average thousands of dollars less each year than their white peers.  Management soon agreed to the Union’s proposal to establish a fair and transparent wage grid based on years of experience.  

After a year of tough negotiations held via zoom due to COVID-19, Ingalls nurses ratified their first contract effective Feb. 21, 2021. Other highlights of the new CBA include six weeks of paid parental leave, certification bonuses, improved tuition benefits and a new team of resource nurses to improve staffing.  

“It’s been a long time coming,” said ICU Nurse Lisa Vaughns. “But now we have a voice, we have union protection, and we have fair pay. We hope this contract helps recruit and retain skilled nurses. Our community deserves nothing less.” 

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