Nearly 700 Chicago-area nursing home workers, who have been asking for $15 an hour along with improved safety measures, walked off the job Monday at 11 Infinity Healthcare Management facilities.
They underscored the huge risks they are taking during the coronavirus pandemic that’s hit nursing homes especially hard.
Messages emailed Monday from the Associated Press to the company seeking comment were returned as undeliverable, while telephone calls to the company’s offices in Hillside, Ill., failed to reach any company representative.
Some employees say the City View nursing home in Cicero has the state’s highest number of COVID-19 infections, and Cicero even went to court in an effort to shut down it down.
Caregivers say a second Infinity facility, Niles Nursing and Rehab Center, has the highest number of deaths.
The striking workers said their contracts expired in May and have sought new ones since June, adding that Infinity ended pandemic pay at the end of July, even though it received $12.7 million in COVID funding through the Cares Act.
Jackie Abulebdeh, who works at Southpoint Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, said she is provided only one mask for a day’s work.
At City View, employee Janice Hill said she makes $14.10 an hour after 12 years and cares for 33 residents during her night shift.
“The poverty wages that nursing home workers are paid creates a downward spiral where no one wants to work at a nursing home, which creates a staffing crisis and forces good workers to leave,” Hill said at a news conference outside City View.
Shaba Andrich with SEIU Healthcare Illinois said workers want hazard pay for everyone, not just a few.
“We’ve had members die who are housekeeping laundry workers, dietary workers; members are dying,” Andrich said.