CHICAGO — Nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois held a press conference Saturday just steps from several nursing homes where facility owners are refusing to apply for funding that would address the industry’s unsafe staffing crisis by fueling much-needed wage increases for Certified Nursing Assistants. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, State Rep. Lakesia Collins and SEIU Healthcare Illinois leaders joined the workers in their demands for Chicago nursing homes to apply for the funding. A full video of the press conference is available here.
“Nursing home owners are refusing to step up and apply for funding. It tells me one thing. That you don’t like accountability. You don’t care about the seniors. You don’t care about [the seniors’] well-being. You don’t care about the workers that keep everything moving forward,” said Rep. Collins, who stood beside a sign showing how low nursing home staffing levels are linked to higher death and infection rates. “We won’t be silenced. We’ve come to do our work and we’ve done our part. And so these nursing home owners that will not step up to the plate need to step up and do what they said they were going to do. That is to retain workers, pay their experienced workers for the hard work that they’ve done over the years and make sure they are staffing these facilities.”
“[We] get calls every single day from families, from patients, from workers asking for better conditions. Asking for our help. So that is what we’re here to do,” said Rep. Cassidy. “But it’s also personal for me. My niece is one of those people that left the profession because she could no longer afford to do this incredibly trying, physical hard work for so little money while trying to raise her son and be present for him. I’ve seen firsthand what the failures of these for-profit owners have wrought upon these facilities.”
”There’s an unsafe staffing crisis happening in our nursing homes right now. It started before the pandemic, and has only gotten worse during the pandemic,”said Shaba Andrich, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President of Nursing Homes. “The employers are making a deliberate effort to suppress wages, and it’s shameful. Now today we ask, ‘What’s the hold up?’ …To get [CNAs] back to the bedside, you’ve got to pay them more. And not just because the market said so, but because they deserve it. Because these jobs have always been hard, but now they’re hard and dangerous.”
Local CNAs, care workers and advocates fought for and won a measure within landmark Nursing Home Rate Reform legislation at the state level this spring. That legislation includes a program wherein facilities can apply for pass-through funding that provides life-changing raises for Illinois CNAs. In doing so, they can both reward essential care workers for their service and improve recruitment, retention and staffing within facilities but only if they apply for the funding.
HAVE YOU AND YOUR COWORKERS SIGNED OUR PEITION YET? https://act.seiu.org/a/support-cnaratereform