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University of Chicago Teamsters Reject Management’s Final Offer

By staff

A photo of Teamsters Local 743 member Kendra Mitchell, representative J Burger a

Chicago, IL – University of Chicago Hospital workers have come out strong to demand a fair contract from their wealthy employer. Over three days near the end of July, the 1400 members of Teamsters Local 743 voted down a contract offer from management. The resounding “No” vote – 93.5% against – was because the company’s offer didn’t address employees concerns about job security, healthcare costs and compensation.

The hospital reported a substantial increase in operating income and net assets in 2008. Despite this, they cut hundreds of jobs earlier this year, adding to job security fears that already existed because of contracting-out.

According to union representative J Burger, bargaining for these workers – the largest union contract at the hospital – was progressing until early July. The elected committee was shocked when the employer brought their ‘final offer’ to the table.

Kendra Mitchell, a Nursing Supportive Assistant, explained her issue with contracting-out. “Agency nursing assistants are used instead of NSAs. But they can’t do glucose scans, for example, meaning we have extra work to do.”

Richard Berg, president of Local 743 and former environmental services worker at the hospital for 17 years, explained what is behind this conflict: “The UC Medical Center is doing fine, but they’re using the excuse of the crisis in the economy to squeeze the members of Local 743. Dean [James] Madera has a seven figure salary. Our members just want a contract that is mutually beneficial.”

Members of Local 743’s bargaining committee and the representatives were joined at a press conference in front of the hospital on Aug. 3 by members of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 73, the trades people at the University of Chicago.

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