Tentative pact avoids strike by Illinois nursing home workers

Front-line nursing home workers in Illinois have reached a tentative agreement with owners, averting a strike, according to the union that represents them.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois said the two-year contract covers more than 10,000 union members who provide care at more than 100 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities. It raises wages for all workers to more than $15 an hour and provides hazard pay for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The contract also provides additional fully paid sick days for COVID-19-related testing, illness or quarantine, as well as provisions ensuring workers aren't required to work without adequate personal protective equipment.

"All of the major contract gains will help safeguard the health and safety of workers and the residents for which they care — at a time when both are vulnerable to the risks associated with COVID-19," the union said in a news release.

"Significantly, the agreement continues to build on the progress made by nursing home workers in recent years to lift wage standards for the industry," SEIU added.

The agreement comes as workers said they were prepared to strike at 64 facilities.

In a statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Bob Molitor, CEO of the Alden Network of nursing homes and a board member of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities, praised the agreement.

"With base pay raises up to 24 percent, the IAHCF has achieved the 'Fight for $15' (minimum wage) ahead of the city and state for our dedicated employees on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic," he said. "This two-year contract includes $2 per hour COVID bonus pay for all 10,000 employees during the duration of the stay-at-home order and beyond, as well as expanded paid sick leave. 

"While negotiations have ended, this insidious virus has not. We are grateful a walkout was avoided, and that our heroic staff members will continue caring for our vulnerable seniors as we fight this battle together."


More articles on human resources:
Denver Health employees seek to form union
Workers at Nevada HCA hospitals protest over working conditions
Judge dismisses union lawsuit against Montefiore over working conditions

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