Illinois medical center workers join state's largest public service union

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Hundreds of workers at CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Ill., have joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to hospital and union statements. 

The Illinois Labor Relations Board certified the unit April 26.

It is unclear how many employees will be included in the unit, as the labor relations board continues to verify union authorization cards signed by workers. However, the hospital said it expects the total will be fewer than half of its more than 1,500 employees and primarily include technical workers, such as radiology and lab technicians. 

CGH workers began organizing their union in mid-2019. 

Now that the union has been certified, they will have more of a voice in improving workplace conditions and their lives, the AFSCME said. 

"We're thrilled to finally have our union certified with AFSCME Council 31," Jodi Thompson, RN, said in a news release April 28. "As front-line health care employees, it's more important now than ever to have a real voice to advocate for our communities, our patients and our co-workers. We look forward to sitting down with management in good faith and bargaining real improvements that will benefit us all."

Paul Steinke, DO, president and CEO of CGH Medical Center, expressed disappointment about the latest ruling from the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

"Our focus remains on taking the best care of our patients and all of our employees regardless of the labor union results," he said in a statement shared with Becker's May 3. "Our hope in any process related to the union, including a contract, is that we would be able to work together to create an environment that will not adversely impact our patient care or the community."

AFSCME is the largest union of public service workers in Illinois. Statewide, the union represents more than 90,000 active and retired employees of state, county and city governments, state universities, local school districts and nonprofit agencies.

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