Chicago workers strike enters 2nd week

Members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois entered the second week of a strike Aug. 7 over what they allege are substandard wages and the urgent need for safe staffing at Chicago-based Loretto Hospital.

The union represents about 200 workers, according to a statement shared with Becker's earlier this month on behalf of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. Loretto Hospital is a nonprofit community-based organization located on Chicago's West Side. 

The union members' contract expired June 30, and they had an extension until July 25, according to the statement. The union and hospital have been negotiating a new labor contract since May. On July 19, healthcare workers at Loretto Hospital delivered a 10-day strike notice to the hospital, and the strike began July 31. An Aug. 7 news release from the union, which was shared with Becker's, said the parties met over the weekend but were unable to reach an agreement.

"Loretto is facing a significant staffing crisis," the union said in the latest release, which cited high vacancy and turnover rates. 

The release also said the hospital is lagging behind other facilities on wages, despite receiving funding from the state to address recruitment and retention.

Loretto, in a statement shared with Becker's on Aug. 7, said it presented another counteroffer Aug. 5 in the hopes of getting its team members back to work.

"The hospital offer met the SEIU start rates requested, but over a two-year period rather than in the first year of the new agreement," the statement reads. 

"Loretto's latest offer meets the SEIU start rate wage demands without putting an unrealistic financial strain on the hospital. The first year of the new agreement would focus on bringing our lowest paid front-line workers to their requested rate and focus on the retention of hard-to-fill technical positions. The second year would focus on elevating the wages for all other team members."

Loretto also noted its average turnover rate for fiscal year 2023 was 14.5 percent, and that it received a "B" safety grade in the spring 2023 Leapfrog ratings. 

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 3:57 p.m. CDT on Aug. 7. 

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