Statement Regarding Strike at Brown Elephant in Andersonville
On January 4th at approximately 12:45PM, I was contacted regarding a situation at Brown Elephant (5404 N Clark) in the 40th Ward, where members of Howard Brown Health United and Illinois Nurses Association were striking against unfair layoffs made by Howard Brown Health (HBH) during the holiday season.
When I arrived at the scene, I spoke to the picketers, Brown Elephant safety staff, and CPD, who were called to the location by management. Brown Elephant Staff alleged that a woman and her daughter were not being allowed to enter, and that a customer was afraid to exit back out of the store. The strike leader flatly denied that they had stopped anyone from entering, stating that they were informing people as to why they shouldn’t cross a picket line and providing literature.
Hearing the conflicting accounts, I entered the business myself to speak to the woman and her daughter, who communicated that although the interaction was loud, as most protests are, they were not afraid. I offered to escort them out if they wanted me to, and they made it clear that it would not be necessary. They did not express concerns for their safety in regard to exiting the store when I asked them.
It is disappointing to see an institution like Howard Brown Health, which does so much for our community, misrepresent what occurred today in attempts to undermine those seeking to have a fair negotiation and to protect their members, who are being laid off due to the unfair decisions of HBH leadership. While I recognize that the actions of large pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca,and United Therapeutics are the cause of Howard Brown Health’s financial challenges, the decision to lay off workers while still expanding their facilities is the wrong one, and their union busting actions make it worse.
Rather than prioritizing property development and expansion, they should invest in their people, who provide vital healthcare services to those who need it most. Every responsible leader knows that the most valuable resource an organization has is its people, and I urge the leadership at HBH to do what’s right – recognize the union, negotiate fairly, and come to a just agreement.
In the News
Howard Brown Health Workers Go On Strike, Warn Of ‘More Burnout And Turnover’ As LGBTQ Organization Lays Off 64 Workers, via BlockClub Chicago, by Jake Wittich, Jan 3, 2023