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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Howard Brown Health faces October trial if settlement isn't reached with union
by Jake Wittich
2024-03-13

This article shared 9431 times since Wed Mar 13, 2024
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Howard Brown Health could go to trial over unfair labor practice allegations if the LGBTQ+ health center doesn't reach a settlement with its union soon.

Chicago's regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint March 8 accusing Howard Brown Health of violating the National Labor Relations Act when it laid off 61 employees amid budget cuts in January 2023. The complaint also alleges Howard Brown provided false information to its union, which formed in 2022, and bargained in bad faith.

The new complaint comes several months after the NLRB's Region 13 office found merit or partial merit to the charges brought on by the union, Howard Brown Health Workers United. Since then, the NLRB has been seeking a settlement between the union and Howard Brown Health, which could include reinstatement, back pay and payment of consequential damages to all laid-off workers.

Union leaders said in a March 11 statement that Howard Brown rejected the NLRB's proposed settlement, prompting the NLRB's complaint. If a settlement isn't reached, the issue will go before a judge Oct. 21.

Former workers said the lack of a settlement has affected their financial stability because they're still waiting on backpay and damages from Howard Brown.

"Due to their decision to lay me off after 15 years of service, I am still behind on rent, my car was almost repossessed, and I can't afford my daugther's daycare," said Jada Ambrose, one of the employees laid off last year. "Now Howard Brown Health is continuing to mistreat me and other laid-off workers by not giving us the backpay we deserve."

Julia Bartmes, executive director of the Illinois Nurses Association, which represents the union, said Howard Brown is "fighting a legal battle they have in essence already lost."

A Howard Brown spokesperson said the organization was "surprised" by the NLRB's decision to schedule the hearing.

"We are in ongoing settlement discussions with the NLRB and the [union]," said Wren O'Kelley, associate director of communications and marketing at Howard Brown.

The laid-off employees were offered reinstatement in August and discussions about the settlement and proposed backpay continue, O'Kelley said.

"In these discussions, we are working towards reaching a mutually agreeable settlement, while also ensuring that we can continue to provide critical care to our patients," O'Kelley said.

Howard Brown leaders have said the organization is working to close a $12 million revenue shortfall created by recent losses in federal funding.

Former CEO David Ernesto Munar, who stepped down from his role Feb. 29, told Block Club Chicago last year the revenue shortfall stems from COVID funding running dry, as well as changes in the pharmaceutical industry that allow companies to keep a greater share of federally negotiated savings.

See www.windycitytimes.com/lgbt/Howard-Brown-strike-reaches-third-day/74524.html .


This article shared 9431 times since Wed Mar 13, 2024
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