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PA Hospital Workers to Rally in Chicago

January 23, 2009

Chicago, IL - Laid-off workers from Commonwealth Medical Center in Aliquippa are demonstrating in Chicago today outside the Sears Tower where the hospital's primary financier is located. They'll be joined by Chicago-area caregivers from SEIU Healthcare Illinois. The Pennsylvania hospital closed in December and workers were not given their final paychecks.

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

"The reason that they are traveling these hundreds of miles is the outrage that they feel, the slap in the face that they feel, by this finance company."

The Chicago workers want to show as much support as possible for their Pennsylvania bretheren, according to Muhammad.

"We empathize. 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."

Muhammad said the workers from Pennsylvania have every right to be upset.

"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."

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

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - PA