(CHICAGO) – In a unanimous vote Tuesday, emergency room and endoscopy technicians at University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) on Chicago’s South Side chose to join Teamsters Local 743. There are 80 workers in the bargaining unit.

“We are thrilled to welcome this group into the Teamster family,” said Local 743 President Debra Simmons-Peterson. “We’ve seen how Covid-19 has rocked the healthcare world, and put employees at odds with managers over safety and pay. We want our new brothers and sisters to know we will be fighting for them every step of the way to receive the wages and benefits they deserve, and to make sure the hospital is doing everything in its power to ensure the safety of these members.”

Sending a clear message of strength and unity, every member of the bargaining unit that cast a ballot voted to join Teamsters Local 743, making the decision unanimous. The new members said they were feeling disrespected by management and were not being paid for the high level of stress involved in their jobs. Local 743 Organizer Denise Stiger said the Emergency Room Technicians sought out Local 743 because they saw the gains the union fought for while representing some of their UCMC co-workers.

“This group has a very stressful job. UCMC sees a lot of victims of Chicago’s gun violence and individuals involved in severe car accidents. You add a pandemic to that, and they’re dealing with a lot more stress, a lot more danger. They felt it was the right time to join a powerful union like the Teamsters,” said Stiger.

Stiger organized the group with the help of UCMC Clerical Steward Debra McCaa. Stiger & McCaa also had the support of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Teamsters Joint Council Organizers Pasquale Gianni and Eduardo Farrera. Teamsters Joint Council 25 President Terrence J. Hancock applauded the team effort and welcomed the new members.

“I would like to personally welcome our new Teamster Brothers and Sisters from the University of Chicago Medical Center. They are now part of a Teamsters Joint Council 25 family that is 100,000-strong, and fighting for our members every day,” Hancock said. “I would also like to congratulate the organizing team at Local 743 on this major victory. Organizing during the Covid-19 Pandemic poses a difficult challenge, and I am proud of the hard work put in by everyone involved.”

Gianni said he hopes more healthcare workers see the benefits of unionizing to protect their rights.

“These workers sent a loud and clear message to UCMC that they deserve better,” Gianni said. “Hopefully this is the first of many in a wave of healthcare workers asserting their voices in the workplace, via union representation, in the age of Covid-19.”

Teamsters Local 743 represents more than 6,000 healthcare workers at various hospitals and clinics in the Chicago area. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Health Care Division represents more than 50,000 healthcare workers nationwide.