UIC Hospital, 1740 W Taylor St. Credit: Google Maps

ILLINOIS MEDICAL DISTRICT — The nurses at University of Illinois Hospital overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract that will guarantee more personal protective equipment, pay raises and more staffing as they continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The nurses, represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, voted 842 to 13 to ratify the new contract, according to union representatives.

For months, nurses have complained they weren’t getting proper protections to do their jobs as the pandemic hit the Chicago area. Twelve nurses tested positive for coronavirus in March.

Hundreds of nurses went on strike last month after contract negotiations broke down. University trustees sued the union to try to block the strike, and a court order prohibited more than 500 nurses in critical care areas from walking off the job.

The two sides tentatively agreed to new terms last week. The agreement, among other features, guarantees a rolling 90-day supply of PPE, N95 masks for all workers, hazard pay for work during pandemics and a commitment to firing 160 full-time nurses.

“This contract is dedicated to the 1,400 nurses who came to work every day while they were exposed to COVID-19 without proper protection,” said union president Doris Carroll said.  “This contract represents a vast improvement compared to where we were before the strike and we are happy to see that the hospital recognized the importance of supporting the nurses.”

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Pilsen, Little Village and West Loop reporterrnrnmauricio@blockclubchi.orgnnPilsen, Little Village and West Loop reporterrnrnmauricio@blockclubchi.org Twitter @MauricioPena