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Workers at Illinois hospital win their union

Source: CGH Medical Center.
By AFSCME Staff ·

Employees at CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Ill., have won their union, overcoming a two-year anti-union campaign of intimidation by management. The union was formally certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board last month.

The nearly 850 new members of AFSCME Council 31 include registered nurses, certified nurse assistants, licensed practical nurses, phlebotomists, medical assistants and other health care workers.

“We’re thrilled to finally have our union certified with AFSCME Council 31,” said Jodi Thompson, a registered nurse. “As front-line health care employees, it’s more important now than ever to have a real voice to advocate for our communities, our patients and our co-workers. We look forward to sitting down with management in good faith and bargaining real improvements that will benefit us all.”

The victory is shared by the community at large and CGH workers.

For the town, it signals greater stability in a region that has seen its economy decline due to outsourcing and plant closures in union-dense industries.

“Sterling and Rock Falls used to be a very prosperous area. Then the steel mills closed down and the union jobs went away,” said Fidencio Hooper-Campos, a member of the Whiteside County Board and a former steelworkers union president. “That’s why I supported CGH workers trying to organize from the beginning, and when I found out their union was certified, I choked up. I congratulate the CGH hospital union workers and I hope this will be the first of many union victories for our community.”

For CGH workers, it’s a triumph over an anti-union employer that relied on familiar “union avoidance” tactics. When CGH workers started organizing their union in mid-2019, they faced harassment from management, including captive-audience meetings, pressure from supervisors and even the dismissal of union activists. After the workers filed majority-interest petitions at the labor board in December 2019, the harassment continued.

“The determination of CGH employees to form their union is an inspiration,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “By standing together despite the challenges, they won a voice to improve their working lives, the patient care they provide and the community they love. We’re happy to welcome CGH workers to our always-growing union family.”

Council 31 represents more than 90,000 active and retired employees of state, county and city governments, state universities, local school districts and nonprofit agencies. It’s the state’s largest union of public-service workers and a leading voice for all working families in Illinois.

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