Healthcare Workers Strike, Remote Learning Attendance Struggles – NBC Chicago

Healthcare Workers Strike, Remote Learning Attendance Struggles – NBC Chicago


Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed in the video player above.

Hundreds of healthcare workers and nurses in Chicago and Illinois have gone on strike, calling for better COVID-19 protection and pay as they work through a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, some Chicago schools are struggling with their remote learning attendance as the city began its school year on an entirely e-learning schedule.

Here are the latest updates from around Illinois on the coronavirus pandemic today (Sept. 14):

Mayor Lightfoot to Announce First-Ever Contact Tracing Corps

Chicago Mayor Lori Ligthfoot and other city leaders are set to announce the city’s first-ever community-based Contact Tracing Corps and Resource Coordination Hub Monday, according to the mayor’s public schedule.

The announcement is set for 11 a.m. at the Greater West Town Community Development Project.

The mayor will be joined by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves and other city leaders.

Watch live in the player above.

UIC Healthcare Workers Join Nurses on Picket Line During Strike

Healthcare workers at University of Illinois Chicago Hospital are joining hundreds of Illinois nurses on strike Monday, alleging unfair labor practices as contract negotiations stall.

SEIU Local 73, the union that represents technical, clerical and maintenance healthcare workers, said they asked for more protection from COVID-19 and better pay.

“UIC continues to drag its feet when it comes to COVID-19 protections and economics,” the group said in a statement. “Though SEIU Local 73 has had positive discussions about a $15/hour minimum wage, UIC has not agreed to fully comply with Chicago’s minimum wage law, nor have they promised the resources and protections needed to keep UIC workers, their families, and the community safe.”

The group announced plans to strike Monday with a rally planned for the afternoon.

“We’ve been exposed from day one. They don’t care,” said SEIU member Lalo Lechuga.

The group of healthcare workers is set to join more than 800 nurses who hit the picket lines Saturday after marathon negotiations failed to yield a new contract between the nurses’ union and University of Illinois Hospital officials this week.

The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents more than 1,400 nurses at the hospital, announced that a seven-day strike would commence at 7 a.m. Saturday, with at least 800 nurses expected to picket during the first day of the work stoppage.

The union is demanding increased access to personal protective equipment in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reductions in the number of patients under the care of each nurse, and an increase in pay, among other contractual demands.

The University of Illinois Hospitals filed a lawsuit attempting to stop some critical care nurses from picketing, and according to a judge’s ruling, some nurses will be required to continue working. A temporary restraining order issued by the judge applies to 535 of the approximately 1,400 nurses working in the UIH system, but only impacts 118 nurses at a time, according to officials.

Officials with UI Hospital and Clinics say they are “disappointed” that an agreement could not be reached.

“We remain committed to addressing key issues and believe much can be resolved through further dialogue,” according to a statement. “We have offered to meet this weekend and next week for as long as it takes to resolve the outstanding issues, and to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

According to a press release, officials have contacted an agency to onboard more than 600 nurses and health care professionals for help during the strike.

But SEIU Local 73 union leaders claims that UIC has brought in workers from states on Chicago’s travel order to cross the picket lines.

“UIC is bringing in workers from states with higher COVID-19 transmission rates to break a strike from a workforce complaining that management risks worker and patient lives due to inconsistent COVID-19 safety protocol enforcement, “ Dian Palmer, SEIU Local 73 president, said in a statement. “We want to come to an agreement that is fair and just for UIC workers, but we’re also ready to strike. UIC workers are not only fighting for their livelihoods, but for their lives, the safety of their families, and the communities being served.”

Some Chicago Schools Are Struggling With Remote Attendance

Chicago schools reported roughly 84% citywide attendance for the first day of remote classes, but some schools had fewer than half of students log in.

Attendance increased citywide over the first three days, with 90.2% citywide Thursday, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Still, first day attendance numbers were 10 percentage points lower compared with last year’s first day with traditional classes. Chicago schools shifted to online learning for the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“While our first day attendance rate is lower than in-person school comparisons due to challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I am encouraged by our outreach efforts, which will remain ongoing as we work to ensure families have what they need to participate in remote learning,” Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said in a statement.

Some of the districts more than 500 schools reported 100% attendance, but others lagged far behind.

Teachers say some students lacked devices or reliable internet access. School officials say they’re still trying to close the digital divide by doling out 100,000 laptops.

Ellington Elementary, on Chicago’s West Side, reported 66% attendance Tuesday. Principal Shirley Scott said she was optimistic about the coming weeks as some parents were still picking up laptops.

Wrigleyville Bar Redmond’s Ale House Shut Down Sunday

Redmond’s Ale House, a popular sports bar in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood, closed for good Sunday, according to the establishment’s Facebook page.

While Saturday was the bar’s last full day of business, it was also open Sunday afternoon for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings game. Redmond’s closed at 6 p.m. Sunday.

“There are not enough words to express all the memories that have happened within our walls or how much we will truly miss all of you…” a post on the establishment’s Facebook page read. “Thank you for your patronage. Thank you for your support.”

Illinois Confirms 1,462 New Cases of Coronavirus, 14 Additional Deaths Sunday

Illinois health officials confirmed 1,462 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, with 14 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the new cases reported Sunday bring the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 261,371 since the pandemic began earlier this year.

The 14 new fatalities brings the statewide death toll to 8,309, according to officials.

Sunday, officials reported 46,890 new test samples turned in to state laboratories, bringing the total number of tests conducted statewide to 4,735,866.

The seven-day positivity rate remained steady at 3.7%, with 11,791 new cases of the virus in the last seven days, along with 317,494 tests conducted.

Hospitalization numbers in the state did decline a bit on Sunday, with 1,422 COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals statewide. Of those patients, 328 are in intensive care units, and 136 are on ventilators, per new figures released today.

Nurses at University of Illinois Hospital Go on Strike After Contract Talks Break Down

More than 800 nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital were still hitting the picket lines Monday after marathon negotiations failed to yield a new contract between the nurses’ union and hospital officials last week.

The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents more than 1,400 nurses at the hospital, announced that a seven-day strike would commence at 7 a.m. Saturday, with at least 800 nurses expected to picket during the first day of the work stoppage.

The union is demanding increased access to personal protective equipment in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reductions in the number of patients under the care of each nurse, and an increase in pay, among other contractual demands.

Talks between the two sides dragged on for more than 14 hours Friday and into Saturday morning, but after negotiations broke down, the INA announced that it would authorize a strike beginning at 7 a.m.

The University of Illinois Hospitals filed a lawsuit attempting to stop some critical care nurses from picketing, and according to a judge’s ruling, some nurses will be required to continue working. A temporary restraining order issued by the judge applies to 535 of the approximately 1,400 nurses working in the UIH system, but only impacts 118 nurses at a time, according to officials.

Officials with UI Hospital and Clinics say they are “disappointed” that an agreement could not be reached.

“We remain committed to addressing key issues and believe much can be resolved through further dialogue,” according to a statement. “We have offered to meet this weekend and next week for as long as it takes to resolve the outstanding issues, and to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

According to a press release, officials have contacted an agency to onboard more than 600 nurses and health care professionals for help during the strike.

Outpatient clinics remain open, and all urgent patients will be seen.

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