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Nearly 700 nursing home workers strike for hazard pay, better conditions at Infinity centers

Infinity Healthcare Management operates 11 nursing homes in Illinois, most of them in the Chicago area.

Annette Delaney, 54, a travel escort at Ambassador Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Albany Park, leads a rally of striking Infinity Healthcare Management workers Monday morning outside the Northwest Side facility.
Annette Delaney, 54, a travel escort at Ambassador Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Albany Park, leads a rally of striking Infinity Healthcare Management workers Monday morning outside the Northwest Side facility.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Nearly 700 nursing home workers walked off the job Monday morning at 11 Infinity Healthcare Management facilities across the Chicago area, saying they won’t return until the company offers them higher wages and safer working conditions amid a pandemic that has hit nursing homes particularly hard.

Standing outside nursing homes in Cicero, Maywood and Chicago’s Brainerd neighborhood, workers and representatives with SEIU Healthcare Illinois ticked off a list of grievances against Infinity, including a lack of hazard pay.

“Outside there’s a sign that says they are heroes, but unfortunately Infinity Healthcare does not want to treat them like heroes,” said Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which is an investor in Sun-Times Media. “Workers don’t even get a living wage at this home, they’re making $2 less than what other nursing home workers in the industry are making.”

Infinity could not be reached for comment Monday morning

Janice Hill, an employee at City View Multicare Center in Cicero for 12 years, said she makes $14.10 an hour 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.

The nursing home workers said the company should provide more PPE for workers. Jackie Abulebdeh, who works at Southpoint Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, 1010 West 95th St., said she is provided only one mask for a day’s work.

“These are people’s lives, my family’s lives,” said Allison Howard, another employee at Southpoint. “I take it home, I come here on the bus and I come back home on the bus, and I do it out of love, but I have to have a living wage.”