Lifeguard shortage may cause snag for summer

Summer is the time when Chicagoans are using their parks, beaches, and pools. 

The Chicago Park District has been recruiting lifeguards to try to open all 77 Chicago pools on time, but employees say there are going to be issues.

Members of the employees union, SEIU, rallied outside of the new Chicago Park District headquarters, as they begin to negotiate their next contract. They say they helped strategize the plan to recruit staff. 

This season, lifeguards didn’t have to pay for training or certification. Last year, the Park District opened half of the city’s pools due to a severe lifeguard shortage. 

The recruiting effort got more young people to apply, but instructors say, it’s not enough for full operations. Natatorium Instructor Adolfo Flores says pools will be open 5 days a week, not 7, with limited hours. Most of the staff will be brand-new hires. They are promoting people after only a few weeks of employment. And they will not be offering swim lessons.


New lifeguards make about $16/per hour. The union is asking for a higher wage for those lifesaving skills. They say the new headquarters facilities at 4830 S. Western are a sign the Park District is thriving.

The city beaches have already opened. Pools are slated to open this Friday.