Updated August 8, 2023
Loretto Hospital’s healthcare workers continue to strike for better wages and staffing at the West Side “safety-net” hospital. Contract negotiations resumed between the union and management over the weekend, after being stalled last week.
In the latest negotiations, both parties were unable to reach an agreement, union representatives said on Aug 7, as the strike entered its eighth day. Union representatives said over the weekend they came “closer to an agreement” but the hospital management “still refuses to invest fair wages in its workers.” But the union is not backing down on their demands, asking management to use the public funds it receives to pay workers fairly.
Loretto Hospital’s healthcare workers continue to strike as contract negotiations between the union and the West Side’s safety-net hospital have stalled.
Union representatives said management has not provided another contract proposal since July 30 and have yet to come back to the bargaining table. But the union is not backing down on their demands.
Outside the hospital on Aug. 2, workers and union representatives rallied as the strike entered its fourth day. They demanded Loretto management be accountable and transparent about the public dollars it receives, including $10 million in state funds for staff recruitment and retention.
“What’s not clear is why Loretto is refusing to do the right thing,” union President Greg Kelley said, saying that low wages contribute to understaffing. Three deaths are attributable to staffing issues, he said.
“Loretto keeps saying it’s about money,” said Carla Haskins, a certified nursing assistant. “It’s more than about the money, it’s about staffing, it’s about safety. It’s about awareness.”
Workers called out hospital board members and leaders of the long-embattled hospital, questioning why management was willing to spend $1 million dollars in a contract to temporarily staff the hospital while they strike.
“That could’ve been us,” Haskins said.
The healthcare workers’ strike on the West Side garnered the attention of other labor movements, who joined them Aug. 2 to demand a fair contract. Chicago Teachers Union members stood in solidarity with Loretto’s workers as President Stacey Davis Gates called on Loretto’s management to remember the power of the teachers union.
“These are the workers who said, ‘Brandon is better,’ and now he’s in the fifth floor [of city hall in the Chicago mayor’s office].” Davis Gates said. “If you don’t get it, we can all shut it down.”
Members of SAG AFTRA, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the American Postal Union, and the Ironworkers also stood in the crowd, at a time when labor moments nationwide continue to rise. On Aug. 4, Loretto workers joined a SAG AFTRA rally outside Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., according to a press release.
A plethora of local elected officials also joined Loretto workers press conference on Aug. 2 to express their support. Ald. Jessica Fuentes (26th) said the workers strike comes at a time when Chicago has a City Council and a mayor that ‘supports labor and union.’
Visibly absent was state Rep. Camille Lilly (78th), who represents Austin in the Illinois House of Representatives. She also works as chief external affairs officer for the hospital.
Lilly did not respond immediately to this publication’s request for comment.