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Chicago Healthcare Workers Going to Bat for Laid-Off Colleagues

January 23, 2009

Chicago, IL – Chicago-area caregivers are stepping up to defend colleagues they say were "left out in the cold." Union members from SEIU Healthcare Illinois will join visiting demonstrators from Pennsylvania for a rally today outside the Sears Tower office. The out-of-state workers were laid off from Commonwealth Medical Center in December and workers were not given their final paychecks. Chicago-based Bridge Finance group is the hospital's primary financier.

Union spokesman James Muhammad says the group is demanding the hospital and lender not bail out executives while denying unpaid wages to workers.

"We empathize and we know what they are going through. We think there needs to be fairness in how companies deal with laid-off workers and this is obviously an unfair situation."

Workers are outraged, according to Muhammad, who adds this is an issue of greed, versus need.

"These are front line workers, many of them who are scraping to get along, yet the executive staffs, who obviously make much more, are working out a deal with the hospital and the finance company."

Muhammad believes today's rally of caregivers from two different states will demonstrate the value of bringing workers together.

"As wages decline and healthcare is not available, you need the strength of a united working people to make companies do what they know they should be doing."

A hospital executive has said bankruptcy court will take up the issue of the employees' pay at a hearing next week.

Today’s rally will be held at 11:00 a.m. outside the Sears Tower office of the Bridge Finance Group.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL