Striking nursing home workers await response to latest offer

Striking nursing home workers and their supporters rally Wednesday outside Lakeview Rehab & Nursing Center. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

SEIU Healthcare negotiators met Tuesday with representatives of Infinity Healthcare Management, which runs 11 Chicago-area nursing homes. The union for about 700 workers on strike against a nursing home group said Wednesday it is waiting to hear from management about its latest offer as the work stoppage entered its 10th day.
“We offered some compromises on pay. We can’t offer any compromises when it comes to personal protection. We can’t offer any compromises in other areas,” said Shaba Andrich, vice president for nursing homes with SEIU Healthcare Illinois.
Union negotiators met Tuesday night with representatives of Infinity Healthcare Management of Illinois, which runs 11 Chicago-area nursing homes.
Andrich joined about 30 picketers Wednesday outside one of Infinity’s properties in Lake View. SEIU Healthcare is an investor in Sun-Times Media.
“We didn’t get any clear signs one way or the other,” Andrich said of management’s initial response to the union’s offer.
An Infinity spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Several prominent religious leaders joined the rally Wednesday, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Michael Pfleger.
“It’s mind-boggling to me that they [management] have the nerve to call these men and women essential workers, call them heroes, while Infinity pays them and treats them like they were disposable individuals,” Pfleger said.
Workers began bargaining for a new contract in June, after their old one expired in May. The key issue for workers remains wages. They say the $14-an-hour average wage doesn’t qualify as a “living wage.” The workers say they also want an additional $2 an hour in “covid pay.”
“This isn’t just a hard job, it’s a dangerous job — and it should be reflected in their pay,” Andrich said.
Those on strike include certified nursing assistants, cooks and housekeepers. The workers also say in many cases their personal protective equipment isn’t adequate.
The union said the next negotiating session is planned for 4 p.m. Thursday.

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