CHICAGO (WLS) -- Workers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital are demanding action Friday over, what they claim, are dangerously-low staffing levels.
Some frontline hospital staff said low wages are part of the problem in retaining staff.
Now, the hospital is responding to those claims.
Better wages and more staffing. Those are the demands of hundreds of employees at Northwestern Hospital.
Negotiations are ongoing between workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois and the hospital. This as the workers were joined by city and state leaders to make their voices heard.
"This hospital is like a second home to me but I need a living wage," said Ebony Buckley, with environmental services. "We are overworked and underpaid!"
The union said the average Northwestern Hospital worker makes $20 an hour.
Workers want that raised to $25 an hour.
"This fight is about this hospital -- Northwestern -- who has a $10.4 million portfolio, giving you what you have broke your back to build," said former healthcare worker turned IL House Rep. Lakesia Collins, District 9.
The union said 29% of Northwestern Hospital employees have quit since January 2022.
The hospital workers said the overtime bonuses offered are a key reason why they are so short staffed.
"You want to offer me something we have called 'ASP,' which is an additional shift pay. It's $4. I'm not coming from the South Side of Chicago all the way to downtown to pay to park for $4," said Kimberly Smith, a Northwestern Hospital patient care technician." That's just not gonna work out."
The frustration has been brewing for years among these employees.
Hospital workers said the COVID pandemic may have highlighted some of these staffing issues, but they said this is a problem that started well before that.
"On a well-staffed day in the ER, techs are responsible for about 10 patients. On a bad day, it's more like 30," said Carson, an ER assistant.
"We are currently in negotiations with SEIU, which represents nearly 1,200 union employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital including transporters and environmental services team members. Our discussions have been positive and remain confidential. We look forward to continuing our discussions with union representatives," Northwestern Hospital officials said in a statement.