On Tuesday, February 28, over 25 members of the American Medical Student Association chapters at UIC and Rush, members of LaRaMa-LMSA and Chicago-area physicians met with Hyatt workers Chris Toro and Angela Martinez. The event included supporting comments by Dr. Claudia Fegan, Dr. Steven Rothschild and Dr. Peter Orris. Also present in support were Dr. David Blatt, Dr. Duane Dowell, and Dr. Anne Scheetz.
The following is the commentary from Dr. Steven K. Rothschild
“As a Rush University faculty member, I wish I could be here with you today at this meeting of AMSA and PNHP members in solidarity with the Hyatt workers. I was tremendously excited when Dr. Scheetz told me that this forum would be taking place. Too many people make the mistake of thinking that the health care system should be judged by the number of highly skilled specialists available, and how new and technologically advanced and architecturally spectacular our hospitals are. Facilities like the new Tower across the street are important parts of the health care system, but each of you in this room knows that this is only a very small part of what we mean by decent health care.
Each of you knows that a healthy society needs access to care for everyone, not just the well-to-do. A healthy society needs children who come to school well-fed, who sleep comfortably and safely each night, who arrive ready to learn and who are taught by teachers who are given the resources needed to teach those children well. A healthy society needs workers who are treated with respect and who earn a living wage to provide for their families.
Quality public education, a safe workplace, a clean and healthy environment, a living wage, and all the other social determinants of health have never been given freely by those in power in our country. They are the result of generations of organization and struggle, and the labor movement has been at the heart of that struggle. Today, Unite Here and the Hyatt workers are organizing to demand that Hyatt maintain health insurance for its workers and stop job speed-ups and conditions that lead to worker injuries.
I am excited by this forum because each of you has recognized that our responsibility as health care workers is to identify the causes of illness, and to work to prevent those root causes. One important way we can do that is to understand the challenges faced by working people and to stand in solidarity with them in their struggle for better workplace conditions. The labor movement is under enormous threat in the US today. I am deeply grateful to everyone here for standing with labor in the struggle to build a healthier society.”