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On the picket line

March 24, 2006 | Page 15

Cook County nurses
By Elizabeth Lalasz

CHICAGO--Close to 60 registered nurses (RNs) picketed outside John Stroger Jr. Cook County Hospital on March 15. Pickets were also held throughout the day at the three other acute care public health facilities--Provident Hospital, Oak Forest Hospital and Cermak Health Services.

Nurses wanted to let the public know that the longer the Cook County Bureau of Health Services (CCBHS) management continues to drag its feet in contract negotiations, the more the CCBHS endangers the thousands of patients that nurses treat everyday. The 1,800 nurses, represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, voted by 97 percent in early March to authorize a strike.

"Nurses come in but don't stay because of conditions and lack of respect from management," said Bernice Faulkner, an RN and a member of the union's bargaining committee, in an interview. "I've been in nursing a long time, and it's not going to get better, it's only going to get worse. We have three nurses for 30 patients, and we don't have enough nursing assistants. We also have to do non-nursing work. It's rough, but we have to be determined."

The nurses' union and CCBHS are scheduled to go back into negotiations at the end of the month, and the union has pledged to keep up the pressure with more actions over the coming weeks.

Glenn Allen contributed to this report.

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