CHICAGO—Parents, children and allies will stand in protest with early education teachers Wednesday, July 30 at North Lawndale YMCA, 3449 W. Arthington Street, from 5-6:30 p.m. Protests will also be held at two other Metro Chicago YMCA locations. The protesters will denounce low wages for teachers and staff, unaffordable health insurance and no paid sick time for some workers.

The teachers have been in contract negotiations with the YMCA of Metro Chicago for nearly two years. Parents and allies are concerned that failure of YMCA management to reach a fair agreement is impacting the quality of service rendered by teachers.

“I see it in their faces every day when I pick up my child,” said Kalisha Buie, parent of two children at the Orr YMCA center, who supports the teachers’ efforts to fight for a living wage and affordable healthcare. “These teachers are highly educated and do good work; many of them have advanced degrees. They deserve better pay and benefits so they can focus on their work.”

Workers said many of them earn less than $15 an hour and the YMCA is offering an “insulting increase” of 1.5 percent. Workers also denounced the YMCA’s proposal to increase employee health care costs, citing that three quarters of the workers cannot afford the YMCA’s insurance even before an increase in price.

“The YMCA portrays itself as a community institution dedicated to building healthy communities and lifting people out of poverty, but its treatment of its workers runs counter to that mission,” said Erica Hawthorne, a North Lawndale YMCA teacher.

Other Metro Chicago YMCA protest locations and times:

  • Rauner Family YMCA, 2700 S. Western, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
  • South Side YMCA, 6330 S. Stony Island, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm