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Union: Northwestern Hospital Closing Cafeteria, Forcing Employees To Unfamiliar Jobs


CHICAGO (CBS) -- A workers union at Northwestern Memorial has said more than two dozen cafeteria employees at Northwestern Memorial Hospital will be forced into jobs they weren't trained for when the cafeteria closes in two weeks.

WBBM Newsradio's Steve Miller reports a number of restaurants and fast food joints have been opening on the Northwestern hospital campus, but the hospital cafeteria is on the way out.

Shain Khan, a food service worker and Service Employees International Union representative at the hospital, said some people who have worked at the hospital for decades will be moved to jobs they know nothing about.

"It's a shame to many staff members that work there, because these are their careers. This is what they went to school for. This is what they've been hired for," he said. "They've been there for 10, 20, 30, 40 years; and now it's time to make a change, by force."

Khan said 25 to 30 workers would be affected by the cafeteria closure, and he said they're being offered jobs in areas they know nothing about. Some of those jobs are at lower pay.

"Remember, we've been in the hospital for years and years and years of food service; and we have no other idea what other positions are there that we can have a career change," he said.

Khan said the most junior person in the cafeteria has been there for a decade. The most senior employee is a cook who's been there 40 years.

"She's the sweetest person there is. She's one of the best cooks that we have at Northwestern; compliment after compliment for years and years," he said.

A union spokesman said the concern is that one of the wealthiest hospitals in the city is outsourcing food service by bringing in a variety restaurants that pay minimum wage.

Northwestern has not responded to requests for comment.

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