Members of Teamsters Local 743 joined community groups, allies, and local media Thursday morning to celebrate a victory in the battle to keep Mercy Hospital from closing.
The Chicago Health Equity Coalition, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Service Employees International Union, and others joined the community in celebrating this win, but acknowledged there is still a lot of work left to do. The group submitted a rubric of demands for the buyer of Mercy Hospital. They include a say in the governance of the hospital, transparency from the new owners, and a commitment to retain employees and protect collective bargaining.
The focus for Teamsters Local 743 Secretary-Treasurer James Thomas is to ensure the new owners of Mercy Hospital will retain the roughly 300 Teamsters employed by the hospital, and bargain in good faith in the future.
“Our main concern is that the new owners sit down with the union and continue to collectively bargain with us,” Thomas told a group of reporters Thursday. “We’ve represented workers at Mercy for over 40 years. We’ve done our research, we know at Insight’s Michigan locations, their staff is non-union. We want them to know Chicago is a union town. We represent a lot of excellent workers, many of whom live in the community Mercy serves. We just want them to know we believe in good wages and benefits and want them to continue that with the new group that takes over Mercy. There’s still work to be done”
A proposed sale of Mercy from current owner Trinity Health to Insight Chicago was approved by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board March 22, but still have yet to finalize terms of the sale. Mercy is still at risk of closing if the two cannot come to an agreement by May 31.