Local nurses and service workers strike at UIC Rockford

Workers are wanting more personal protective equipment and higher wages.
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 9:51 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - On September 3, 94% of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 Membership voted their intention to strike. On Monday, the group followed up on that promise hitting the picket line for the first time in front of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford.

“We’re constantly working with COVID-19 patients we need protective equipment, we need equal pay just so many things that we’re not receiving being front line workers,” said medical assistant Irene Bukar.

The strike is in conjunction with the 800 nurses at Chicago’s University of Illinois hospital who started their strike over the weekend. The group said they are putting their lives and health at risk and are fighting for wages that reflect the job they’re doing.

“We just need fair pay in this community, so we’re able to take care of our families adequately we want respect and respect means to pay us adequately," said Bukar.

Bukar said contract negations have been going on for a year and says they finally had enough.

“It’s not just like we decided today is the day it’s just after a period of time not getting any results this is what we had to do to try and get our voices heard,” said Bukar.

Some local 73 members said they wish it didn’t have to come to this.

'We were hopeful that they would compromise on an agreement of fairness we weren’t asking for the moon just stuff for fair especially in this double whammy of economic and COVID times," said local service worker Ralph Simpson.

As for how long they will strike, SEIU members said there is no timeline.

“As long as it takes for us to get what we need," said Bukar.

Copyright 2020 WIFR. All rights reserved.

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