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Chicago Crossing Guards, Now Inactive With No In-Person School, Worry They May Lose Health Insurance

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In a potential pandemic casualty, hundreds of Chicago crossing guards fear they may lose their health insurance in just a few weeks.

They say they are not getting answers from the city or their union. And as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, it is all tied to the city's budget and its $1.2 billion deficit.

"How do you just smack somebody away and throw them off and then expect them to survive?" said one 20-year veteran crossing guard, who wanted to remain anonymous.

There is a lot of anger and uncertainty right now for the city's school crossing guards.

"They're telling us after November 30, the health insurance is going to stop," the anonymous crossing guard said.

She said she and her retired husband rely on her health insurance. But the executive vice president for the union representing the guards confirms the insurance hard stop is a possibility.

It's looming as the Service Employees International Union Local 73 continues to work out how the management of the $14 million crossing guard unit will move from Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications to the Chicago Public Schools.

Guards got a letter from OEMC last month informing them of a change, leaving them with even more questions.

"How are we transitioning?" the crossing guard said. "What will we have? What will we not have?"

SEIU's Jeffrey Howard said the health insurance issue could impact 350 crossing guards. The sticking point is their inactive status – with no in-person school, there is no work.

And Howard said the current contact only pays health care cots for inactive employees for three months – ending Nov. 30.

"This is the season where you need your insurance," the crossing guard said. "This is a time when you need stability."

A CPS representative deferred questions to the Mayor's office. A Mayor's office representative said no positions will be cut due to the transfer, but said the health insurance issue is still being worked out.

The overriding concern is likely whether CPS can afford it.

Those inactive crossing guards technically are not furloughed, but they are also not getting paid.

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