Northwestern hospital workers allege staffing crisis

Amid contract negotiations with Chicago-based Northwestern Memorial Hospital, members of Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois are publicizing their concerns about staffing and pay.

The union represents more than 1,000 employees at Northwestern Memorial, including transporters and environmental services team members, according to a hospital statement shared with Becker's. Northwestern Memorial is part of Northwestern Medicine, which has hundreds of locations throughout the Chicago area.

The union said it has been in negotiations with Northwestern Memorial since December. In a news release shared with Becker's, union members allege chronic short staffing at Northwestern Memorial and that there is high turnover due to low wages. They issued the release March 31, the same day they held a news conference about their concerns.

"Keeping patient areas safe and clean is my number one priority. But it's impossible when I'm asked to quickly turn over beds or rush through the cleaning for common areas," Donella Wade, a Northwestern Memorial environmental services worker, said in the release. "It's time for Northwestern Medicine to invest in workers like me to keep patients safe."

Union members seek to address their staffing concerns as well as a pathway to a $25-per-hour minimum wage for all hospital workers.  

Northwestern Memorial said in its statement: "Our discussions have been positive and remain confidential. We look forward to continuing our discussions with union representatives."


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