After Closing Head Start Facilities in Chicago, YMCA Reneges on Promise of Severance Pay for Laid-Off Teachers
Chicago: Laid-off YMCA Head Start teachers and teachers’ assistants will hold a press conference outside of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Headquarters at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 28th, to announce the filing of an unfair labor practice charge, alleging that the YMCA retaliated against workers based on their union membership in SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana.
The YMCA closed the First Lutheran and South Chicago Head Start facilities in August, attributing the closures to low enrollment and funding changes. These closures resulted in the displacement of 15 Head Start teachers and support staff. Seven of those employees were placed in different YMCA Head Start facilities but the remaining eight employees have been laid off permanently.
In August, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago notified employees in writing that they would receive two weeks of severance for every year employed by the YMCA. Then, management abruptly told workers that they would not receive any severance pay, because they are union members
“I have worked with the YMCA for 20 years and I have to fight to receive severance,” said Tuwanna Gonnigan, one of the eight laid-off employees. Gonnigan is one of several impacted employees with over 20 years of service to the YMCA of Metro Chicago.
On top of this, the YMCA is attempting to leverage the layoffs to force workers into an unfair contract, offering to provide severance to the laid off employees ONLY if SEIU Healthcare forgoes contract negotiations and extends the collective bargaining agreement for the remaining 135 employees, with a far-below-cost-of-living raise.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago states on its website, “We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors…” It collects $30 million in membership fees annually on top of $20 million in investment income and pays their CEO Richard Malone an annual salary in excess of $550,000. The workers being laid off are all women of color, many of whom earned under $15 an hour while working at the YMCA.
What: Press Conference on Unfair Labor Practice Filed Against YMCA, Spanish speaker available
Who: Laid-off YMCA teachers and teachers’ assistants
When: Thursday Sept. 28th, 12:30 PM
Where: Outside of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Headquarters, 1030 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60607