Chicago’s Fair Workweek Ordinance is the Nation’s First to Include Hospital Workers
Groundbreaking Provisions Extend Coverage to Frontline Healthcare Workers
CHICAGO—Today’s passage of the Fair Workweek Ordinance by City Council extended fair scheduling provisions to workers across the city—and broke new ground by including hospital workers.
While Philadelphia and San Francisco ordinances helped pave the way for increased scheduling stability in Chicago, the outspoken advocacy of workers from hospitals across the metro area is responsible for the provisions including hospital workers—provisions lacking in other such legislation.
“One year ago yesterday—hundreds of us came together to march on the Illinois Hospital Association to demand higher workplace standards for all hospital workers,” said LeChrisha Pearson, a certified nursing assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital in Lawndale. “We’re fighting on multiple fronts—by building our union, by fighting for higher standards through our contract negotiations, by pressuring the industry to do the right thing, and by working with our elected leaders for new laws like this one. When you stand up and show up, you get your voice counted.”
Pearson is one of hundreds of hospital workers who have lobbied for the Fair Workweek ordinance—and specifically for the ordinance to include hospital workers—in recent months by showing up at hearings, visiting aldermen, and turning out for today’s vote.
“Unpredictable scheduling is a real problem for hospital workers in all job classifications. When you’ve got workers on 12-hour, 14-hour, even 16-hour shifts, then being sent home for a single shift can mean losing a third of your paycheck without warning and that’s especially hard if you’re making poverty wages” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which represents hospital workers throughout Greater Chicago. “That’s why this ordinance needed to include hospital workers—and why it’s such a victory for the frontline healthcare workers who give their all to patients but have trouble caring for their own families.”
Through their Hospital Code Blue campaign, workers at hospital facilities across the Chicago area have been fighting to address the crises both in their workplace and in their communities caused by the misplaced priorities of the hospital industry. Through public actions, marches and press conferences, workers have been speaking out since last year on the prevalence of unfairly low wages, short staffing, unaffordable health benefits and issues around workplace dignity and respect within the hospital industry.
“In this fight for fair scheduling, we were pleased to work with Mayor Lightfoot and our aldermen,” said Pearson. “But our fight continues and we are organizing at hospitals across Chicago for higher standards, starting with recognition of union representation for our sister and brother nurses at Mount Sinai and settling a fair contract that significantly lifts wage, benefit and staffing standards.”