SEIU Local 73 is celebrating the passage of HB2521 in the Illinois State Senate which will restore workers’ rights to strike without fear of permanent replacement. HB2521 allows labor unions to collect show of interest cards and electronically cast ballots, expands the life of these cards to 12 months, and allows workers to file an unfair labor practice if they face retaliation or permanent replacement during a lawful strike. Employers have frequently used the threat of permanent replacement to divide solidarity among workers and defeat strikes. These threats can be issued before workers even go on strike, and can be used after strikes to punish workers and prevent future strikes. The bill now heads back to the House for passage.
“We applaud the Illinois Senate for passing this bill to support working people who are exercising their rights,” said Dian Palmer, President of SEIU Local 73. “We especially thank Senator Ram Villivalam (D-8) and Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. (D-21) for championing this bill. Our thanks also go to the Illinois AFL-CIO, AFSCME Council 31, and the Illinois Federation of Teachers for working with us to pass this important legislation.”
When Local 73 members went on strike in 2020, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Cook County Health flew in strikebreakers from COVID hotspot states without requiring them to quarantine, a complete disregard of emergency travel orders and the health and safety of staff and patients. The strikebreakers worked alongside union workers who were forced to train them to do their jobs. Workers faced further intimidation after the strike ended. Management at UIC accused union workers of bringing COVID into the hospital, and some workers had comments made in their records indicating “no call, no show, unapproved, and unsupervised.”
UIC and Cook County tried every tactic to defeat the strike and failed. Our victory was due to our solidarity and fighting together for the rights and benefits we deserve. Striking is just one of many tools workers have to exercise their power. It will take all of us working together to advocate for legislative issues that strengthen our powers as workers. One way to build political power is through COPE contributions. Your COPE contributions support candidates who propose legislation like HB2521. Join your union sisters and brothers who make monthly contributions that support the elected officials we need working for us. Contribute to COPE today!