Concerns rise about the union-busting reputation of the law firm that will negotiate for Howard Brown
The INA made the announcement at a press conference on Friday in front of Howard Brown’s clinic on Sheridan road on the Chicago north side. The Sheridan clinic is the oldest of the 10 locations Howard Brown has in the city.
INA Executive Director Alice Johnson made the announcement with Howard Brown nurses Katie Luedecke and Johannes Mosquera with Unitarian Universalist Rev. Jason Lydon who was part of a interfaith group that had given the the Howard Brown president a letter in support of unionization.
“We hope our voices as nurses will be heard and our demands will be addressed,” Luedecke said at the conference. “As nurses, we are fighting for better patient care, better employee support, and a better organization culture at Howard Brown.”
Howard Brown president and CEO David Ernesto Munar welcomed the union in a press release posted on Friday. “The high-quality and compassionate care provided by Howard Brown is made possible because of our employees’ considerable skills and dedication to public health and outstanding patient care,” he said. Munar said they also had a commitment to employee choice and working conditions.
Those at the press conference did express concern that Howard Brown had hired Jackson Lewis, described as a “notoriously conservative union-busting” law firm, to represent the healthcare system in union negotiations.
“We believe that Jackson Lewis does not represent the values that are foundational to Howard Brown and its belief in workers’ rights,” Mosquera said. “We want Howard Brown to live up to the social values it espouses and negotiate with us in good faith.”
Jackson Lewis is a national law firm that has, in the past, taken part in conferences on how to keep unions out of companies. The firm represented Chicago Public Schools during 2016 negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.
Luedecke said the nurses would like negotiations to begin soon with a contract finished within the next 60 days. When asked about other employees of Howard Brown organizing, she said, “We support the efforts of every to organize.”
Lydon, the minister, said the interfaith group he represents expressed support and were happy about the union recognition. But he also shared the nurses concern about Jackson Lewis. “We will be watching what is going on, monitoring the negotiation processes and holding in prayer for all at Howard Brown that there can be a just and equitable workplace meeting the needs of all those who serve Howard Brown and serve LGBT and HIV positive folks across the Chicagoland area” Lydon said.
The INA currently represents 3,500 nurses across Illinois. Howard Brown has 10 locations across the city, including the Broadway Youth Center.