Nurses’ Unions Serve Notice to Strike. Preckwinkle Responds

Toni Preckwinkle masked at a recent press conference
Toni Preckwinkle masked at a press conference.

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued a statement Thursday in response to notice to strike from two nurses’ unions:

Cook County respects the collective bargaining rights of its employees. As negotiations proceed, Cook County will continue to bargain in good faith.

Yesterday, Cook County was served with strike notices from two of the several unions that represent its employees.

Cook County fully understands our nurses are striking over staffing shortages. Let us be clear: this is a mutually shared concern. Before COVID, there was a nationwide shortage of nurses. The pandemic has only compounded this shortage – exponentially. Now, not only do we have a nursing shortage, but because of the devastation wreaked by the pandemic we have shortages in critical healthcare and first responder positions.

Among our first set of challenges was to provide PPE, then teleworking. Next was pandemic pay – and now staffing shortages. We have been able to work through these challenges with our union partners while dealing with COVID, floods and so much more. This has been a tough nearly year and a half to navigate, but we did it with no layoffs and ensured that not one of our employees was left without health insurance during a pandemic.

We also understand our employees are upset because we asked to increase their employee contributions for healthcare. Let’s be clear, County is known for having one of the best health insurance plans and our employees pay $0.09 on a dollar. We have not asked employees for an increase in six years, even though our costs have increased. This is needed in this round of bargaining. 

Cook County will continue to bargain in good faith to reach fair, reasonable, and equitable collective bargaining agreements with all the unions representing its employees.