Coronavirus Illinois: Nursing home workers reach tentative contract agreement day before thousands planned to strike

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands of frontline nursing home workers who were poised to start a historic strike on Friday have reached a tentative agreement with nursing home owners for a two-year contract with significant wins that will help safeguard both workers and residents through the current pandemic and beyond.

Workers were set to strike because they felt their health and the health of the residents they care for was at risk.

"COVID-19 really has put the spotlight on nursing home workers as we know now it's a major source of spread of the virus our members were angry scared anxious pretty anxious and so we've just been trying to tell their stories and share what they've been going through every day," SEIU President Greg Kelley said.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

The agreement impacts over 10,000 members of SEIU Healthcare who provide care to residents at more than 100 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.

The workers won significant contract gains including higher baseline wages-bringing all workers above $15/hour, hazard pay for all workers for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, and fully paid sick days for COVID-19 related testing, illness or quarantine for the duration of the crisis.

The new contract also ensures that employees are not required to work without adequate PPE as determined by regulatory agencies for the duration of the crisis.

Coronavirus deaths in Illinois by county; COVID-19 victims of all ages

"The contract gains are a testament to the courage and commitment of workers who were poised to strike at 64 facilities in order to protect themselves and the residents for which they care during this time of unprecedented vulnerability and risk," SEIU representatives said in a statement.

The tentative agreement was overwhelmingly supported by members of the bargaining committee, but must be ratified by the larger group of members who will be impacted by its terms.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.