Social Service Workers United-Chicago stands in solidarity with members of the Illinois Nursing Association who are currently on strike, and with SEIU-73 workers preparing to strike to demand living wages, safe staffing ratios, dignity and respect in the workplace, universal PPE, and hazard pay at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As social service workers and social work students, we are all too familiar with employers who call us “heroes” while refusing to pay us fair wages, provide adequate healthcare benefits, and ensure we have manageable caseloads. If UIC believes that #BlackLivesMatter and #HeroesWork Here, then UIC must bargain in good faith for a fair contract now. As we say at SSWU: “Our working conditions are our client living conditions”. Patients will receive better care, and students will receive more quality services when UIC workers receive the wages, PPE, staffing ratios, and respect they deserve.
Many of our members are graduates of the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work, or current students. It is beyond disgusting that UIC recruits students using the name and legacy of Jane Addams and the Hull House Museum, which played a prominent role in the history of the American labor movement, while refusing to bargain with workers in good faith, bringing in scabs from out of state in an attempt to intimidate union workers and break the strike, and emailing students with claims that they will be unable to get tested for COVID-19 if SEIU members go on strike. The mistreatment of SEIU 73 and INA members are occurring while Jane Addams College of Social Work students are facing consistently disrespectful and unprofessional behavior from college administration due to students advocating for safe conditions at field placements. Our struggles are connected, and we will fight corruption and indifference from the UIC administration with solidarity.
There is no economic justice without racial and healthcare justice. We stand with the 4,000 SEIU Local 73 workers who are ready to strike for their lives, their families, and their communities, and the 800 INA nurses already on strike. Believing that #BlackLivesMatter means fighting for a living wage, safe staffing, and dignity and respect for the workers of color who are caring for our community in the midst of a global pandemic.
We encourage everyone to sign this Strike Solidarity Letter in support of SEIU 73 and INA workers, sign up for a picket shift, and join SEIU 73 and INA members at their rally Monday, September 14 at 12PM at Taylor and Wood Street. If you would like to learn more about SSWU-Chicago, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org