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Chicago area YMCA workers taking part in 1-day strike

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Metro Chicago YMCA childcare staff staged a one-day strike Thursday to call for better pay and staffing. (WLS)

YMCA child care workers walked the picket line today during a one-day strike to protest wages and what they say are unfair labor practices by the agency.

Nearly 130 workers staged the work action at 10 YMCA locations across Chicago. The employees said they want higher wages and better staffing.

The strike comes after attempts to reach an agreement with management stalled.

"There's a lot of us who've been loyal to the Y for a long time and really care," said YMCA pre-school teacher Linda Aguilar.

The Service Employees International Union of Illinois which represents the workers says many of those who work at the Y are often paid poverty level wages. Approximately half of those who have worked at the YMCA for years make minimum wage, the union said.

"We want them to make living wages," said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley. "When we proposed that to the Y at the table with management, they said we were living in a fantasy. Literally, that's a quote."

Negotiations have been ongoing since December 1, 2017.

YMCA officials warned parents about the walkout and cancelled Early Education and Care programs, as well as some School Age programs on Thursday.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago says in part:

"The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is committed to a fair and productive negotiation process...We continue to use our best efforts to reach an agreement with the union...We remain committed to providing quality programs and services for children and families in our community, and look forward to a prompt resolution of this agreement."

The statement adds that "Given that negotiations are ongoing, we were surprised that SEIU leaders decided to call a one-day strike by YMCA union employees."

Employees will return to work Friday. Both sides head back to the bargaining table on Monday.
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