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Nursing home workers give notice: if no deal reached, they strike Nov. 23

Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, said union members aren’t asking for a lot and it’s frustrating that negotiations with Infinity Nursing Homes have been going on since June.

About two dozen healthcare workers and SEIU-Healthcare members rallied Friday outside City View Multicare Center in Cicero. Their demands included higher pay and better working conditions, including more protective equipment.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Workers at 11 nursing homes in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs announced their strike date Friday afternoon as contract negotiation for hazard pay and improved working conditions have stalled in recent weeks.

About 700 workers at Infinity Nursing Homes voted to strike and will do so on Nov. 23 if an agreement isn’t reached before then.

Union members say the nursing home operators have refused to offer hazard pay and protect employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Workers gathered outside City View Multicare Center, 5825 W. Cermak Rd. in Cicero, which has had difficulties containing the spread of coronavirus.

“It is simply unacceptable for essential workers — who are serving on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic and risking our lives just by showing up to our jobs — to be asked to work for poverty wages,” said Shantonia Jackson, a certified nursing assistant at City View. “Infinity continues to put our residents and coworkers at risk by inconsistent testing for COVID-19 or just not releasing testing results in a timely manner.”

Infinity Nursing Homes did not respond to a request for comment.

Shantonia Jackson speaks to reporters outside City View Multicare Center, along with a couple dozen healthcare workers and SEIU Healthcare members, demanding higher pay and better working conditions. The press conference was Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Cicero, Ill.
Shantonia Jackson speaks Friday to reporters outside City View Multicare Center, along with other healthcare workers and SEIU Healthcare members.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Jackson and other SEIU Healthcare Illinois members are demanding a pay raise to $15 an hour, plus more personal protective equipment to keep everyone in the facility safer. SEIU Healthcare has an ownership stake in Sun-Times Media.

Jackson, who makes $14.30 an hour, said she shouldn’t have to fight for a decent wage. The risk for Jackson is real; a coworker, just weeks from retirement, died of COVID-19.

“She worked at the Alzheimer’s unit here at City View and cared for nursing home residents for over 30 years,” Jackson said.

Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, said it’s frustrating that negotiations have been going on since June. With COVID-19 cases rising, he said, it is even more important members are treated fairly.

“It’s a shame that we are out here today during a global pandemic where we’ve seen over 200,000 deaths. Over half of them have been facilities just like [City View],” Andrich said. “They are not asking for a lot; they are just asking for the same that every other worker in Chicago has gotten.”

Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, speaks to reporters Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 outside City View Multicare Center, along with a couple dozen healthcare workers and SEIU members.
Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes at SEIU Healthcare Illinois, speaks to reporters Friday outside City View Multicare Center, along with a couple dozen healthcare workers and SEIU members.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times