SEIU Local 73 and Illinois Nurses Association Statement of Solidarity
The UIC Center for Healthy Work stands with SEIU Local 73 and Illinois Nurses Association members who are demanding that UI Health bargain in good faith for fair and just working conditions. The UIC Center for Healthy Work, based in the School of Public Health (SPH), is a research and education center which aims to advance the health and well-being of workers in Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the nation. The Center's mission is to remove barriers that impact the health of workers. We identify and promote employment programs, practices, and policies that will improve worker and community health locally, across the state, and throughout the nation. To that end we collaborate with community groups, non-profit organizations, workforce development agencies, workers’ rights organizations, employers, and professionals to support jobs that:
- Pay a livable wage
- Include affordable health insurance
- Offer job security
- Are free from workplace hazards
- Offer opportunities for advancement
- Are free from illegal discrimination
- Include benefits such as paid sick leave, paid vacation, and retirement savings
We and our colleagues in the SPH Division of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences have spent the last seven months responding to requests from worker organizations and employers in various industries for technical advice and educational programs to protect essential workers from the raging COVID-19 pandemic. We have also apprised State government agencies on how to increase protections for workers as the State planned to reopen for business. Our guidance for protecting workers and their families is simple—control hazards at their source, utilize safe work practices—such as safe staffing levels, provide adequate protective equipment, make sure workers know how and where to report violations, and do not retaliate against workers who raise concerns for their safety.
The university has recently engaged its students, faculty, and employees in an intensive dialogue about racism and the need to take meaningful steps to redress its insidious, harmful effects upon the university community. We stand for health equity and racial equity for the employees of the University of Illinois system. Pay inequities and implicit racism across institutions is unacceptable.
While we appreciate that this university has recognized the collective voice of workers to assert their rights to a just work environment, we are dismayed that these workers have had to endure prolonged negotiations and resort to a strike vote. We believe that a university, as a broadly defined public health institution, should be a willing partner with labor to establish and maintain working conditions that advance worker health and the health of their families, which will also ultimately impact the well-being of students and entire campus community.