Nearly 700 nursing home workers walk off job, begin strike in fight for better wages, hazard pay, PPE

Tuesday, November 24, 2020
'We're living below the poverty level,' says nursing home worker on strike
Nursing assistants, dietary aides and housekeepers are among those demanding better pay and protection.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some of the local nursing home workers went on strike early Monday morning.

City View Multicare Center in Cicero has had more than 200 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Workers have said that they do not feel safe.

"I'm hoping we come to an agreement so we can go back to work and take care of our residents because they're used to who they're used to," said Sade Drake, City View Multicare Center worker.

"We feel like we're heroes and we want to be treated like heroes. We're living below the poverty level," said Shantonia Jackson, certified nursing assistant.

Nearly 700 essential nursing home workers walked off the job at 11 Infinity Health-owned facilities in the Greater Chicago area. They have been without a contract since June.

Nursing assistants, dietary aides and housekeepers in part, have demanded at least a $15 an hour wage, hazard pay for all employees and a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.

"Hazard pay is not a lot to ask. These people are putting their lives on the line. So I don't think you can separate the demands. I think that they are all equally justifiable in the situation we're currently experiencing," said Erica Bland-Durosinmi, Executive Vice President Executive Healthcare Illinois.

Jackson helps patients there with daily care like bathing and eating, and fears she'll be the next to contract the virus.

"We get masks that as soon as you put the string on your face, it pops. We don't get N-95 masks, and that's what we really need," she said.

The union said many of their patients support them.

"Family members have been on press conferences with us. They fully support this fight because they wanna make sure their loved ones are receiving the care they deserve," said Bland-Durosinmi.

Infinity Health has not responded to request for comment.

Workers said they are prepared to strike as long as it takes for better pay and greater protections from COVID-19. They will be back at the picket line Tuesday morning at 6 a.m.