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(CHICAGO) – In a unanimous vote Tuesday, emergency room and endoscopy technicians at University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) on Chicago’s South Side chose to join Teamsters Local 743. There are 80 workers in the bargaining unit.
“We are thrilled to welcome this group into the Teamster family,” said Local 743 President Debra Simmons-Peterson. “We’ve seen how COVID-19 has rocked the health care world, and put employees at odds with managers over safety and pay. We want our new brothers and sisters to know we will be fighting for them every step of the way to receive the wages and benefits they deserve, and to make sure the hospital is doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of these members.”
Sending a clear message of strength and unity, every member of the bargaining unit that cast a ballot voted to join Teamsters Local 743, making the decision unanimous. The new members said they were feeling disrespected by management and were not being paid for the high level of stress involved in their jobs. Local 743 Organizer Denise Stiger said the emergency room technicians sought out Local 743 because they saw the gains the union fought for while representing some of their UCMC co-workers.
“This group has a very stressful job. UCMC sees a lot of victims of Chicago’s gun violence and individuals involved in severe car accidents. You add a pandemic to that, and they’re dealing with a lot more stress, a lot more danger. They felt it was the right time to join a powerful union like the Teamsters,” Stiger said.
Stiger organized the group with the help of UCMC Clerical Steward Debra McCaa. Stiger and McCaa also had the support of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Teamsters Joint Council Organizers Pasquale Gianni and Eduardo Farrera. Teamsters Joint Council 25 President Terrence J. Hancock applauded the team effort and welcomed the new members.
“I would like to personally welcome our new Teamster brothers and sisters from the University of Chicago Medical Center. They are now part of a Teamsters Joint Council 25 family that is 100,000-strong, and fighting for our members every day,” Hancock said. “I would also like to congratulate the organizing team at Local 743 on this major victory. Organizing during the COVID-19 pandemic poses a difficult challenge, and I am proud of the hard work put in by everyone involved.”
Gianni said he hopes more health care workers see the benefits of unionizing to protect their rights.
“These workers sent a loud and clear message to UCMC that they deserve better,“ Gianni said. “Hopefully this is the first of many in a wave of health care workers asserting their voices in the workplace, via union representation, in the age of COVID-19.”
“Frontline health care workers are building power with the Teamsters in Chicago and across the country. Not just in this time of crisis, but at all times, we recognize the value and importance of health care workers, and we are so proud to have them as our sisters and brothers in the Teamsters Union,” said Nina Bugbee, Director of the Teamsters Health Care Division.
Teamsters Local 743 represents more than 6,000 health care workers at various hospitals and clinics in the Chicago area. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Health Care Division represents more than 50,000 health care workers nationwide.