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UIC Healthcare Workers: “We Need a Raise”

CHICAGO —

University of Illinois hospital nurses, joined by members of SEIU-73 Illinois Nurses Association, continued their strike for a new contract with the university this morning outside of UIC’s Student Center East. The strike began over the weekend and is planned to continue until a new contract is written.

“Some of us have been working without contracts for over a year,” said SEIU-73 member Kerry Davis. “We do not get raises. We get annual cost of living increases. We need a raise. There are actually people under our contract who make less than the city’s minimum wage.

The University of Illinois pays workers state minimum wage, but many have argued that it isn’t enough to cover Chicago’s higher living costs.

“I happened to have student workers in my office who make over 15 dollars an hour, yet the people who clean our buildings are making less than 13 dollars an hour, and that is their full time job. That’s not right,” said Davis.

Concerns have also been raised about the lack of adequate personal protective equipment for hospital workers, and low staffing levels.

“I don’t know as a student if you’ve experienced trying to call an office or something and trying to get a question answered and it takes a week to get a response from the department? That’s because we’re understaffed. The people who work at this university care very deeply about the students and patients, but we don’t have the staff to handle the volume of students that we have. We’re demanding a commitment in writing to the university to increase staffing levels,” said Davis.

SEIU-73 represents over 4,000 technical, clerical, maintenance and service staff working at UIC.

“We recognize and support the right of our INA and SEIU colleagues to decide whether to strike or come to work. This is a decision that each employee needs to make for themselves in consultation with their families and loved ones. That said, we believe that a strike by either or both unions is not in the best interest of UIC, UI Health, our patients or students—and the University will do everything we can to prevent one,” said a letter co-signed by multiple university officials, including UIC chancellor Michael Amiridis.

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