Hospital Service Workers Challenge Hospital CEOs to Live on Poverty Level Wages of $13 an Hour in Protest Outside the Office of the Illinois Hospital Association

(Watch video from our press conference outside the IHA).

On the Heels of Advocate Aurora Health’s Decision to Pay $15 an Hour by 2021, Hospital Workers Demand a $15 Starting Wage Starting Now and the Right to Join a Union Across the Entire Hospital Industry

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(December 13th, 2018, Chicago) – Hospital service workers from across Chicago held a press conference outside the Illinois Hospital Association’s (IHA) downtown office to challenge four hospital CEOs to live on $13 an hour during the holiday season.   The hospital CEOs in Chicago and their annual salaries are listed below and who are being challenged to live on $13 an hour:

1) Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, CEO of Ascension – earns $13.9 million

2) Mark Frey, CEO of AMITA Health – earns $2.2 million

3) Jim Skogsbergh, CEO of Advocate Aurora Health – earns $8.2 million

4) Dean Harrison, CEO of Northwestern HealthCare – earns $4.2 million

Hospital workers held up signs of the hospital CEOs with their salaries and compared them with the poverty wages of average hospital service workers.

“Although we’re issuing a challenge to these CEOs, this is about the entire hospital industry which is built on greed and refuses to pay what hospital service workers are worth. We demand $15 now and the right to join a union,” said Kim Smith, a Patient Care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Vice-Chair of the Health Systems Division at SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

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“Hospitals like mine, at Northwestern, including Advocate Health and AMITA Health and others, are some of the largest poverty employers across the entire Chicago region.  The hospital industry, and the corporate lobbyists at the IHA, refuse to acknowledge the fact that tens of thousands of hospital service workers are paid poverty wages. It is their dirty little secret they try to hide.”

Workers organized the press conference after Advocate Aurora Health announced it would pay its workforce $15 an hour by 2021.  Hospital workers are demanding a $15 starting wage now and the right for workers to join a Union to raise wages and standards across the entire hospital industry. As the 10th largest non-profit health system in the country, with billions in annual revenue, Workers said that Advocate Aurora Health has the money to pay a $15 starting wage immediately.

Hospital workers cited a major study from researchers at the University of Illinois that found that at least 22,000 hospital workers earn $13 an hour or less in Illinois; and an estimated 30,000 hospital workers earn below $15 an hour.

Tichina Haywood, a CNA at Swedish Covenant Hospital who earns $13.11 an hour and is a single Mom, drew up her personal budget on a large board to show she can’t make ends meet.

“I want these four CEOs to take this challenge and try to live on $13 an hour. I want to see their personal budget. I want to see what they sacrifice,” said Haywood. “I’m asking my family that if they want to give my daughter a gift – don’t buy her toys. I need them to buy things she urgently needs: like clothes, or some winter boots. I have a Christmas tree right now, but I have no gifts underneath it for your young daughter. And that hurts more than you’ll ever know.”

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Several elected officials joined the event and expressed their solidarity and commitment to standing up to the Illinois Hospital Association and the hospital industry.

“I too call on these four CEOs to try to live on $13 an hour during the holiday season!  If they walked just one day in the shoes of some of the hospital workers here right now, there is no question in my mind these CEOs would have a new perspective about the value of your labor, your dedication, and your service to patients and families,” said Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, (1st District) who was just sworn into his office December 3rd.

Also joining the press event were State Representatives elect Aaron Ortiz, (1st District) and Delia Ramirez, (4th District) who will assume their office in early January. Both spoke passionately about the need for hospital workers to earn $15 now and said that a unionized workforce across the industry would transform the City and lift tens of thousands of workers and families out of poverty.

Kim Smith laid out the long term demands of hospital workers stating that: “We need $15 right now – but we also need a union is so that hospital workers can stand up and fight the hospital industry here in Illinois.”

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