On the Picket Line

Chicago health care workers strike over layoffs, contract

By Dan Fein
January 30, 2023

CHICAGO — Some 440 health care workers, members of the Illinois Nurses Association at Howard Brown Health, carried out a three-day strike Jan. 3-5, protesting the layoff of 61 union workers. Strikers include therapists, health educators and greeters, among others, who work at Howard Brown’s 11 medical centers, retail stores and a youth center. The nurses at the clinics have a different Illinois Nurses Association contract. Howard Brown Health uses federal funds to specialize in treatment of gay and lesbian patients.

Clinic bosses say they face a $12 million shortfall due to losses in pandemic and other federal funds.

Striker Shakia Flowers was picketing at the Englewood clinic on the South Side here Jan. 4, one of those hardest hit by the layoffs. “I am one of the 61 illegally laid-off workers, that is 15% of the workforce,” she said. “They are divesting at the South Side clinics and the layoffs are disproportionally affecting the South Side.”

Striker Maya Allen said, “They carried out the layoffs on Dec. 30 and they cut off our access to workplace email and communication with our patients even before we knew we were laid off.”

“We won the union in August with 98% voting for the union,” John Matz, with three years seniority, said. “This is our first attempt to get a contract and we’re already on strike.”