CHICAGO — It’s full steam ahead for Monday morning, when at least 200 workers at Loretto Hospital on the City’s Southwest Side, will walk off the job.
“The strike will start tomorrow morning,” said Erica Bland-Durosinmi, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare, the union representing the workers who are prepared to strike. “We’ve been at the table … proposals have gone back and forth, but we’ve been unable to reach an agreement at this time.”
Mental health workers, radiology technicians and housekeepers make up the bulk of the group. The workers claim they’re underpaid and understaffed, which is reflected by the turnover rate at Loretto Hospital — a number that stands at nearly 60%.
“People don’t stay because they’re not investing in the staff in a real way,” Bland-Durosinmi said. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten here, where management is unwilling to bargain in good faith.”
Bland-Durosinmi told WGN that some pay raises and additional personal days have been offered by the hospital, but their offers have not been substantial enough.
“During the pandemic, we told workers, they are heroes and they deserved everything,” Bland-Durosinmi said. “Now, here we are in a moment where that can be honored with a contract that workers have every right to negotiate, and management is not showing that same respect and sentiment in these negotiations.”
Beyond proper compensation and time-off for workers at Loretto Hospital, Bland-Durosinmi also said familiar faces are needed for their patients who are experiencing traumatic incidents, making the impact of contract negotiations falling through felt far beyond just the pocketbook.
“Most of the people who show up in the ER are people who are having a mental health emergency or are in crisis,” Bland-Durosinmi said. “Those people need to see someone familiar to them.”
In a statement released Sunday evening, a spokesperson for Loretto Hospital told WGN in part:
“[We] made another counteroffer today that addresses recruitment and retention concerns including new starting rates and up to a three-year cumulative 12-percent wage increase for current team members. Loretto Hospital also agreed to the Juneteenth holiday request. We are hopeful that the latest, sustainable proposal will lead to a new collective bargaining agreement.”
Barring Loretto Hospital’s latest proposal being accepted, the strike is still planned to begin Monday morning at 7 a.m.
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