May 4, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL – Some 5,000 workers at Chicago-area nursing homes have authorized a strike that would begin May 4-6, SEIU Healthcare Illinois announced Apr. 27.
The union’s contract with the Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities, which operates 53 nursing homes in the metropolitan area, expired Feb. 15, and it has since filed several unfair labor practices complaints against the network. “We’ve prepared as though we’re going on strike,” SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley told the Chicago Tribune. Understaffing is a major issue, workers said. “You can’t take a breath,” said Francine Rico, 49, a certified nursing assistant who makes $14.78 an hour after 19 years at a South Side nursing and rehabilitation center. The nursing-home workers’ average wage is $11 an hour, SEIU Healthcare Illinois chief negotiator Larry Alcoff told the Tribune. The union is arguing that they deserve well above the minimum wage, and that workers with more years on the job should be paid more, he said, but the operators are asking for an exemption from the minimum, which will rise to $13 in Chicago and Cook County in 2019. Management says Medicaid reimbursements are too low and inconsistent for them to pay more. Read more