March 19, 2013. Registered nurses at Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center on Chicago's South Side late Monday reached agreement with hospital officials on their first ever collective bargaining contract that includes significant improvements in patient care protections.
"Joining an RN union allowed JPH nurses to stand together and negotiate a contract that respects us as professional RNs. We now have the tools to advocate for our patients," said Jackson Park RN LeShaun Williams
A number of important provisions strengthening patient care delivery were the key to the pact, say the RNs, such as improved staffing grids for every hospital unit that can not be changed without the agreement of both management and the bedside nurses, increased staffing as needed based on individual patient illness, and two extra RNs on each shift as a "float pool" to assure safer staffing.
"We demanded a staffing grid that is safer for patients and nurses and cannot be changed without negotiating with the union," said Jackson Park RN Dianne Hibbler.
Other significant patient care gains include limits on the assignment of nurses to clinical areas outside their specialty expertise, safe patient handling provisions with special lift equipment for patients to stem patient falls and accidents and worker injuries, and a Professional Performance Committee of staff nurses, elected by their colleagues, to meet with management to address patient care issues. ...