Chicago Park District Meeting with Mayor Lori Lightfoot

You have questions. Your union is getting answers. With more cases of COVID-19 showing up in the United States, let’s remember to keep calm and support our communities. It’s important to know that 80% of people who contract the virus have a mild illness. “People are tested, they test positive, but then they recover. The vast majority of people who have been infected with the Coronavirus in Chicago and in our state are recovering or have already recovered,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

On Sunday, March 15 the Chicago Park District Bargaining Committee and your Union Officers met with Mayor Lightfoot, Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Michael Kelly, Chicago Park District Human Resources Director Michael Simpkins, Mayor Lightfoot’s Senior Advisor & Legal Counsel Michael Frisch, Deputy Mayor for Education Sybil Madison, and the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady. They came to your union office to meet with us. 

Dr. Allison Arwady reviewed with the group what the current state of the virus in Chicago is. Make sure to stay up to date with the latest updates provided by the state at the Chicago Public Department of Health website. We are also updating the Local 73 site as we get new development.

Mayor Lightfoot made it clear that they are moving forward with aggressive plans now because her administration does not want to act when it’s too late. Her priority is keeping the public safe.

Why is the Chicago Park District staying open?

The Chicago Department of Public Health advises everyone to stay home. If that is not an option, all Chicago parks and park field houses, with the exception of its smallest facilities and CPS school parks, will remain open during normal operating hours for basic needs (i.e. washrooms and shelter). In response, Chicago Public Schools closing the District will provide enhanced programming at 18 parks limiting capacity at each location. Keep checking the Chicago Park District website for updates.

“We’re keeping the parks open in the context of saying to people, ‘Stay at home.’ Our hope is that we will have a pressure point for parents who can’t afford day care and can’t afford to miss work. This is a reality. This virus is going to crush people who are hourly workers and who are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Mayor Lightfoot after Executive Vice President Jeff Howard asked why are we closing the schools and keeping the parks open. She highlighted the priority of keeping the public safe while balancing it with the economic reality of workers who need to work and need a paycheck.

We made it clear that the safety of CPD workers must also be a priority. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  • We made the case to shut down the fitness centers. Michael Kelly agreed to shut down the fitness centers. 
  • Where are the supplies? Michael Kelly assured the group that workers who will be doing enhanced cleaning will have the supplies they need.
  • We need at least one nurse at each of the 18 facilities with enhanced programming. The Chicago Park District is considering this point.
  • We want a facility where CPD workers can get tested for the virus. More discussion will be had on this item as we move forward.

The meeting was productive. We have asked for the agreements from the meeting to be put in writing and agreed to be in constant communication with each other to bring you the most up to date information. Stay tuned as things develop.

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