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From Chicago To El Salvador: Hospital Workers Unite!

by Joe Iosbaker |
April 2, 2000
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Chicago, IL - "El Salvador!" exclaimed Rodney Dye, a clerk from Medical Records at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center (UICMC). "They are facing privatization too?"

That's how many workers at UICMC first responded in early March when they heard about the strike of hospital workers in El Salvador. A leaflet from Fight Back! explained the Salvadorian workers' fight: against privatization, for their jobs, and for the public's healthcare.

These unionists seized 10 hospitals, and were attacked by the police and army. The strike ended victoriously a few days later after a massive rally of over 20,000 in San Salvador, the country's capitol.

UIC workers face privatization as well. University and state officials are trying to get out of operating a healthcare system that largely serves the poor and minority communities in Chicago. The healthcare corporations in this country are making billions, and they favor privatizing. That way, they can add to their profits the money from the insured patients in the public institutions.

UIC workers have been fighting privatization for over a year. So, when they learned about the request for aid coming from their fellow workers in San Salvador, they didn't hesitate to offer it. Service Employees International Union Local 73 sent a financial contribution to the El Salvadoran strikers, along with a message of support from President Tom Balanoff. Louis Diaz, chief steward of UIC's hospital housekeepers, said, "A couple hundred bucks will go a long way there, and we are glad to offer it."