By President Greg Kelley
Loretto Hospital recently made national news after shocking revelations that a high-profile executive lined up vaccines for his favorite luxury watch store and steakhouse, as well as his Trump Tower condo building. My first reaction was: Seriously? After the last year that frontline workers and all Chicagoans have been through, these actions to put the wealthy and well-connected over workers and our elders were nothing short of shameless.
But my second reaction, unfortunately, was that I wasn’t surprised. Loretto is a safety net hospital located in Austin, staffed by workers in our union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois. The vast majority of SEIU hospital workers at Loretto are Black, and the West-Side community it serves in Chicago is almost entirely Black, too.
This latest controversy is just one egregious example of resources intended for Black, Brown and marginalized communities being diverted to wealthy, white communities. In this case, the resource diversion was obviously improper and has appropriately drawn widespread condemnation and scrutiny. Vaccine-related decisions of Loretto executives have life or death consequences.
But the reality is, it’s only one instance of a broader pattern of resources being systemically siphoned away from marginalized communities. In too many instances, politicians and others in power choose to divert resources from Black and Brown communities in ways that are not widely condemned — yet still have deeply detrimental life and death consequences for our communities.