University of Illinois sues to stop nurses from striking this weekend

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees are suing to try to stop nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital from striking this weekend.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court names the Illinois Nurses Association as a defendant and seeks a temporary restraining order against the job action, saying it would pose a danger to the public.

Nurses at the hospital have announced they will begin a seven-day strike at 7 a.m. Saturday after contract negotiations broke down with the hospital over the number of patients under the care of each nurse.

The nurses association says UI Health created conditions for the strike by “engaging in delay tactics throughout negotiations.”

The lawsuit claims 12 of the hospital’s units provide unique and critical services to patients, and if nurses working there are allowed to strike, it “would constitute a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the public,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Those units include the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatric intensive care unit and the labor and delivery unit, the suit said.

The suit claims UI Health negotiators presented a letter to union representatives on Sept. 2, the day after the strike was announced, requesting the proposed strike not include nurses scheduled to work in those units, but the request was rejected.

The lawsuit also alleges the union’s strike date notice came too late for UI Health to hire nurses from a staffing agency to work in those units or to safely transfer patients to other facilities.