Rally held outside Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital by union workers demanding a fair contract

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 5:38 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Local caregivers took a stand demanding a fair contract by holding a rally and informational picket in front of Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital on Wednesday.

Nearly 200 members of SEIU District 1199 are part of the union that represents LPN’s, nurse’s aides, transporters, house cleaning staff and several other positions at the hospital. Brian Higgins has worked at the hospital for well over a decade as a power plant mechanic and is currently on the SEIU, Executive Board, “We’ve been negotiating since the beginning of April and the hospital refuses to negotiate. We’ve had to file over 20 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, because of that.”

The union, fighting for equity and equality, was joined at the rally by a number of area lawmakers, including State Senator Kent Smith of Euclid.

“We will stand with you in Columbus, we will stand with you in Cleveland. We will stand with you where you need us to be,” Smith said.

The group of workers and community supporters tell 19 News they deserve the same care the Cleveland Clinic delivers to it’s patients.

“The Cleveland Clinic is a majority, minority city. Our work force is majority minority. Yet, they refused to give our women parental and maternity leave, 12 weeks pay like they give everyone else. They also refuse to fund our retirement, they refuse to give us short term disability,” Higgins said.

On July 28th the union did overwhelmingly vote to authorize an intent to strike, but they admit most union members can’t afford to be out on the picket line. A woman named Tawana who didn’t provide her last name says she’s been a food service worker at the hospital for 16 years.

“Health care is ridiculous, some of us can’t even afford to go to the doctor because of the copay. If we go to the doctor we might as well not get the prescription because we can’t afford the prescription,” she said.

Jaramack Brown tells 19 News he has worked for Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital for 15 and a half years has one message for the hospital’s administration.

“Just do better by the workers, if you want us to smile and be happy, invest in us.”

At the request of 19 News, the Cleveland Clinic issued a response that said: “We continue our good faith efforts in negotiations with the bargaining unit at Lutheran Hospital. We look forward to resuming negotiations this Friday. Our goal is to achieve a mutually agreeable contract renewal as we have in years past. Cleveland Clinic appreciates the loyalty and car provided by every one of its caregivers at Lutheran Hospital, and we want to assure the community that care for patients will continue there uninterrupted.”