Nurses and AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet appeared to be making progress Wednesday in the first contract talks since a strike began.
Union negotiator and nurse Pat Meade said at 8 p.m. the union was waiting for a response from AMITA on the nurses' latest proposal made at 5:30 p.m.
She said it was possible that a proposal could be taken to union membership for a vote Thursday depending on the response
"We can vote tomorrow and be back to work," Meade said at about 8:30 p.m.
She did not know if AMITA would provide a response on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, she said, nurses on the picket line were heartened by a caravan of cars that paraded in front of the nurses for 42 minutes to show support.
The two sides had been exchanging contract proposals in recent days although they had not met since the strike started Saturday. The negotiation session on Wednesday had been scheduled before the strike.
AMITA brought a new proposal to the nurses on Wednesday, said Chris Martin, a spokesman for the Illinois Nurses Association. The union followed with its counter-proposal..
Nurses have said they want AMITA to increase nurse staffing at the hospital to what the union considers safe levels. The two sides also had continued negotiating wages going into the Wednesday talks.
AMITA has hired replacement nurses for the strike, housing out-of-state nurses at hotels and bringing them to the hospital in buses.
The hospital imposed a lockout when the strike began. The lockout ends at 7 a.m. Thursday.
"We are hopeful for an agreement and continue to bargain in good faith," AMITA spokesman Timothy Nelson said Wednesday.