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UIC Workers: The Union Makes Us Strong

By Joe Iosbaker

Chicago Il – “I was given a five day suspension for enforcing the union contract,” said Randy Evans, a union steward for Local 73 at the University of Illinois Hospital (UIH). But when management handed out that discipline, they shot themselves in the foot. The next day, 80 workers from UIC picketed the hospital, beating back the attack on one of the most active stewards. When that picket line was over, the manager that sent Evans home, submitted her resignation. “This challenge forced her to decide she couldn't handle such repercussions. Action speaks louder than words; that works both ways,” said Dolores Owens, another union steward.

Evans is a housekeeper with 19 years of service. The manager, Mary Santiago, worked for Crothall, Inc., a sub-contractor management company that directs housekeeping for UIH. She had been at the hospital only a few months. Crothall, Inc., displays the anti-union stand that contractors are famous for. On the evening of October 6, Santiago ordered Evans and other Environmental Services housekeepers to wash walls. Evans responded that wall washing was $.50 an hour extra. She grew angry, and when he stood his ground, she sent him home for insubordination, and even had UIC police remove him from the premises.

When Crothall chief Mike Jolle backed her up by giving Evans a suspension without pay, the other union workers were mad as hell. The main chant on the picket line the next day was, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Crothall has got to go!”

Local 73 is grieving the suspension, and we are certain of victory. “When management saw the turnout on that picket line for Randy, they couldn't believe their eyes,” said Sirlena Perry, steward. “We showed them that we are serious when we say, 'an injury to one is an injury to all.'”

As more evidence of the growing strength of UIC workers, 260 more clerical workers voted to join SEIU Local 73. This vote was because more and more workers want in on Local 73's gains at the bargaining table, plus the protection and job security from having a fighting union.

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