Hundreds Take Over Streeterville Intersection as Momentum Builds for Hospital Fight for $15

Rally to support a living wage and affordable healthcare for Northwestern Memorial Hospital workers part of nationwide Day of Action marking the four-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 Movement

ChicagoHundreds gathered to support a living wage and affordable healthcare for Northwestern Memorial Hospital workers Tuesday morning in Streeterville . They marched and took over the intersection of McClurg St & Huron Ave. The rally was part of a historic national Day of Action marking the four-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 Movement. Participants in the Day of Action included elected officials, McDonald’s fast-food cooks and cashiers striking from coast to coast, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, hospital workers in Pittsburgh and other fast-food workers, combined with mass civil disobedience by working Americans across the service economy.

“Everyday, these hospital workers’ commitment to the highest quality standards is evident in their work inside the walls of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, making it possible for the health system to earn praise for excellence in healthcare,” said Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. “Today, the workers are taking to the streets to show their dedication to providing quality care and highlight the need for $15 and access to affordable healthcare for all. Despite the obvious value of their work, many must struggle to survive and lack access to affordable health insurance.”

Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH)’s system is one of Chicago’s most successful and profitable hospitals which reported earning $1.8 billion in profit in 2015 alone. At the same time, many hospital workers there struggle to afford basic necessities and do not have affordable health insurance. 175 workers at the hospital earn less than $15 an hour. Today, workers asked the hospital to be a leader in the field and pay wages that are reflective of profits.

“My co-workers and I keep this hospital clean, protecting patients from infection. Our work matters and we all deserve a $15 minimum wage,” said Marcus Buell, who has worked as a housekeeper at NMH for six years.  A starting housekeeper at NHM makes less than $12 an hour and has to work five years to reach $15. Marcus says if the hospital established a floor of $15 an hour it would reduce employee turnover and help hospital workers struggling to make ends meet.

Workers also asked the hospital to help beat back promised efforts by Congressional Republicans to attack and potentially dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA provides millions of Americans with affordable health insurance, including many hospital workers. As a leader in the medical field, Northwestern could be a powerful voice for its workers and patients in saying “no” to this attack on the ACA.

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