September 28, 2020
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CHICAGO — Chicago area nurses gathered at UIC Monday night to honor co-workers who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It came as nurses are days away from a potential strike.

Speakers Monday night said two nurses, one of their husbands and two frontline workers died at UIC as a result of getting sick while on the job.

Members of the Illinois Nurses Association and SEIU are in the middle on contract negotiations.

“We’re walking the COVID hallways without masks. Everyone in their right mind knows you need a mask, you need a mask,” said UIC nurse Daniel Ortiz. “So where was our leadership?”

The nurses’ union represents more than 1,300 nurses at University of Illinois hospitals and have a strike date of Sept. 12 set.

As that day approaches, nurses who caught COVID-19 hope the vigil sends a message to administrators to avoid a potential strike.

“There are a lot of people who’ve given up everything to do this job, to do this work, and it just feels like the people in charge do not respect that, at all,” said Paul Pater with the nurses’ union. “Words only go so far, actions make you who you are.”

Nurses said they are fighting for access to PPE, better pay and staffing.