Two area nursing homes are going on strike over safety and wages. Aperion Care in Springfield and Jacksonville will join 38 other facilities on the picket lines on May 8th unless an agreement can be reached with facility management. The announcement came today outside the Alden Wentworth facility in Chicago by SEIU Healthcare representatives. SEIU is a union that stretches across several states that represents nearly 10,000 workers in over 100 facilities in Illinois alone.
The workers in the union claim that nursing home management has put their lives and their residents lives at risk by refusing to provide requested PPE, enhance safety protocols, or provide appropriate hazard pay and base compensation. They also say owners won’t provide sufficient paid time off for coronavirus-related illness and refuse to increase staffing levels, refuse to protect workers’ healthcare coverage, and won’t be transparent about COVID-19 cases and risks at their facilities.
Members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois are calling for a short-term 1 year contract that would set a wage floor of $15 per hour for all workers and $16 an hour for CNAs. It would also provide for a 50% hazard pay bonus during the current and ongoing emergency period. Additionally, the workers are calling for an additional 80 hours of paid sick leave for COVID-19 or related illnesses and for provisions for continued health care coverage for any vulnerable workers who have to take leave from their job to protect themselves and their families. The workers also call on their employers to provide adequate PPE and safety training and ask that employers assist workers in gaining access to testing and any emergency benefits being made available to essential workers.
SEIU claims its workers have delivered multiple letters to management at all of the facilities asking for better provisions. Nursing home owners have over 10 days to address the demands at their facilities to avoid the strike. The contract for all 40 facilities is set to expire on Friday. Based upon statistics from Monday at the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, nearly 65% of all COVID-19 deaths in the State of Illinois have come in long-term care facilities.