Media that empowers working people – that's how we build a More Perfect Union.

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Ideas

Have a story to tell or idea to share?
Email [email protected]
© 2021 More Perfect Union Action

Together we can build power for working people.

We’re asking questions that really matter, and telling the stories of people who really need to be seen and heard.

You can support our work by donating today.

Amount

Make It Monthly

Don't Miss a Video!

Access our exclusive reporting and rapid response actions directly in your inbox, so you don’t miss a beat in the fight for working people nationwide.

Be a part of a community backing up independent journalism with action.

Nurses at One of the Largest Queer Health Clinics in the Country Prepare To Strike

Nurses at Howard Brown Health in Chicago are set to strike on Monday over low wages and poor retention.

Howard Brown Health

Thirty registered nurses at Chicago’s Howard Brown Health (HBH), one of the largest Queer health clinic systems in the country, are gearing up for an open-ended strike starting October 3rd for better pay and other issues. The nurses, represented by the Illinois Nurses Association (INA), have been working without a contract for a month and a half. The bargaining unit hopes to win wage increases and address retention issues.

After unionizing in 2019, the 30 RNs have since been joined in the union by the 480 other employees at HBH. These newly incorporated INA members—who include nurse practitioners, facility technicians, and the sales associates at HBH-owned thrift stores—will have a separate contract. “This isn’t a multinational corporation, but it’s also not a small shop,” INA Lead Organizer Margo Gislain told More Perfect Union. “HBH brings in $182 million a year, and the nurses are being nickel and dimed.”

According to ProPublica, HBH CEO David Ernesto Munar gave himself a $100,000 raise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses at HBH have not been given any extra compensation for their frontline work on COVID-19 or the Monkeypox outbreak.

Currently, HBH offers pay incentives based on patient approval surveys, which nurses say is both an imperfect way of gauging a patient’s satisfaction as well as an unfair way of judging workers. As of now, there is no long-term retention plan to keep nurses at HBH,, something that nurses say is a problem given the lack of trained professionals in Chicago who can perform Queer-affirming care.

Cook County Commissioner-elect Anthony Joel Quezada turned to HBH after his family doctor shamed him for being sexually active with men. “As a Queer, working-class person, it is very difficult to find adequate, affirming healthcare in the city,” Quezada explained. “HBH has consistently provided what I need and deserve.”

The nurses, who voted unanimously to strike, gave HBH notice on September 16, but say they still have not seen movement toward fairer wages, which is at the heart of their demands. The hospital also has not yet hired replacement nurses, so if a strike does happen, patient appointments will have to be canceled. Some patients have been waiting for their appointment for months. Gislain told More Perfect Union, “It does not feel like management has urgency to settle the strike.”

Despite being one of the patients whose care could be affected by a strike, Quezada says, “It’s these same workers who provided me solidarity when I needed care and attention. HBH workers were there for me. Now that they are fighting, I will be there in solidarity for them.”

Nurses have been negotiating with HBH since June. Their hours at the bargaining sessions are unpaid, and Tony Valentin, the Northside “float” RN, said most of their time is spent in a separate room from HBH representatives, with bargaining sometimes taking place for only 10 minutes of the allotted eight hours. Valentin said that in one follow-up proposal, HBH countered with a starting wage that was even lower than their previous proposal, while the highest wage was just a 30 cent increase from the previous contract.

Valentin, who is also a patient at HBH, explained why better pay is so important to him and his coworkers: “We are dedicated to this community. Many of us are a part of this community, and we take a pay cut to be here because we care.” But if HBH continues to hold out in negotiations, Valentin says he and his union siblings will walk out. “They can’t function without us, and they are about to learn if we go on strike.”


Correction: An earlier version of this article said that HBH management had presented a counter-offer with a starting wage that was lower than the previous “contract.” Management presented a counter-offer with a starting wage that was lower than their previous proposal.

Related Stories

YouTube Thumbnail
‘A Place to Die’: Inside a Nightmare For-Profit Hospital in Rural America
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Chicago Amazon Workers Lead First-Ever Multi-Warehouse Walkouts
Read More

The Latest

YouTube Thumbnail
As Uber’s Profit Margins Grow, Workers Make Less and Less
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Starbucks Tried to Crush Its Baristas. What Happened Next Will Shock You
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Shadow Group Working To Keep Wages Low
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Stat That Explains Why Politics Is So Broken
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Corporations Are Privatizing Tap Water. You’re Paying the Price.
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The IRS Created a Free Tax Filing System. TurboTax is Reeling.
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
This is the South’s Next Worker Uprising
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Baltimore Port Workers Are Reeling. Will Anyone Listen?
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
We Found The Happiest Workers In America
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
What Billionaires Don’t Want You To Know About AI
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Who Is Bankrolling RFK Jr.’s Campaign?
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Man Corporate America Is Most Afraid Of
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
What Dollar General Doesn’t Want You To Know
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
“I’m A Doctor: Corporate Greed Is Killing Your ER”
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
What Happened to Boeing?
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Chicago’s Radical Solution to End Homelessness
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
In This Town, Only The Rich Get Water
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
The Evil Company Buying Subway (And The Rest Of Your Favorite Chains)
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
Ban Airbnb? This Town Found a Solution to the Housing Crisis
Read More
YouTube Thumbnail
I Work For the King of Beers. I’m Paid Like a Peasant
Read More