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University of Illinois Hospital nurse strike averted

The University of Illinois Hospital and about 1,200 of its nurses reached a new contract agreement early Wednesday, averting a planned strike.

The nurses had planned to picket in front of the hospital Wednesday, but the hospital and nurses, represented by the Illinois Nurses Association, reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract.

"We are pleased that the INA has agreed not to pursue a one-day strike today as we work together with our nurses to ensure our patients' continued care and safety," said David Loffing, chief operating officer for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, in a note posted on the system's website Wednesday.

It was expected that all but about 213 of the 1,200 nurses would strike Wednesday. A Cook County Circuit judge ruled last week that those 213 nurses, working in certain critical units, couldn't strike, after the hospital said that patients could be in danger if those nurses walked off the job.

The agreement must still be ratified by the nurses and approved by the University of Illinois' board of trustees.

The union and hospital had been negotiating a new contract for months, disagreeing about issues including pay, job duties and working conditions. The union and hospital reached a similar eleventh-hour agreement about three years ago during negotiations over the last contract.

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