Dietary Workers, Some With 15 Years or More of Work Experience and Earning Less than $13 an Hour, Call on Gateway’s CEO to Honor the Workers’ Contract and Seniority Instead of Trying to Bust the Union
(January 23rd, 2019, Metro East, St. Louis) — Dietary workers at Gateway Medical Center organized a public rally to save their jobs and called on the CEO, Mr. William Cunningham, to direct the new subcontractor, HHS, to hire all the union members and recognize their union contract with their seniority.
Three local state legislators, State Senator Christopher Belt and State Representatives LaToya Greenwood Jay Hoffman signed onto a joint letter in support of the dietary workers and have called on the CEO, William Cunningham,State legislators Belt, Greenwood, and Hoffman call on Gateway CEO to recognize union and honor union contract to do the right thing and hire the workforce in full.
On November 28, 2018, SEIU Healthcare and 31 dietary workers at Morrison, which was subcontracted by Gateway, received a letter stating that Gateway Medical Center terminated the agreement effective January 31, 2019.
As of February 1, 2019, Gateway will enter into an agreement with HHS, a separate subcontractor, thus potentially leaving the 31 dietary workers, who were members of the Union, laid off. Workers said they should not have to lose their jobs or the right to join a Union simply because a new management company is awarded a contract to provide food and dietary services.
Jerome Collins, a husband and father of a teenage son and 7-year-old daughter, has worked at Gateway for 15-years earning $13.52 an hour. He helped organize the rally. “When folks talk about a ‘rigged’ economy’, where working people don’t ever get a fair shake – what’s happening at Gateway is a perfect example. It’s clear to me that Gateway is simply retaliating against our fellow members for being in a Union. Why else are they considering getting rid of an entire workforce who is dedicated, knows our jobs, and knows what we have to do to get the job done?”
Leslie Maroon has worked at the hospital for 28-years, before it changed its name from St. Elizabeth’s to Gateway Medical Center in 2004. She makes just $12.37 an hour. “Back in the 1990s, when we didn’t have a Union, I went an entire decade without a single raise. Back in those days, we were in constant fear that we would lose our jobs –and as a working Mom I couldn’t afford to lose mine. I’m 70-years right now and I wasn’t planning on retiring just yet. But Mr. Cunningham apparently thinks my 28-years of service doesn’t matter that much to him. But it matters to me. I gave my absolute best serving my patients, supporting families and my community, and helping my co-workers every change I got.”
Leslie will now try to get on unemployment for the time being and search for a new job. She said she can’t afford to retire.
Workers say that Gateway’s complete lack of fairness and its obvious greed and agenda to bust the union is an indictment against the entire hospital industry. Illinois hospitals make billions of dollars in annual profits off the back of low-wage workers but then refuse to offer affordable healthcare to their own hospital workforce. Hospitals also work to suppress wages, and deny healthcare workers from joining a union whatsoever.