SEIU Healthcare Illinois members, allies rallied for living wages, retirement to strengthen care workforce at the Springfield Capitol on Wednesday
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Amidst the escalating care crisis in Illinois, marked by rising demand and low wages driving care workers away, child care and home care workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois gathered at the Springfield capitol building to lift up the need to stabilize the workforce through living wages and a pathway to retirement. The rally in Springfield marks the start of a series of statewide actions calling for ‘good care jobs’ throughout Illinois. Over 45,000 child care and home care workers, who deliver crucial services through state-run programs, are in contract negotiations with the Pritzker Administration.
At the rally, home and child care workers shared their experiences as frontline caregivers and explained the immense impact higher wages and a pathway to retirement would have on their families and communities. During the march workers and allies carried signs that read “Make Care Jobs Good Jobs” and “Care Workers Deserve to Retire,” and the crowd chanted “1, 2, 3, 4, Fair pay’s what we’re fighting for, 5, 6, 7, 8, Our retirement can’t wait!.” A video of the rally is available here.
“Our industry struggles with high levels of turnover because of low wages and a lack of benefits. Many talented caregivers are forced to leave this line of work for higher paying careers because we simply are not paid enough to support a family,” said Judy Hunter, a DORS Personal Assistant on the south side of Chicago. “Governor Pritzker says he wants to make Illinois the best state in the country to raise a family…the way we achieve this goal is by making sure that working families across our state have access to the care services they need to look after their loved ones so that everyone can participate in the workforce.”
The state is in the midst of a care crisis, where a shortage of workers fueled by low pay, benefits, and retirement options means that working families and people with disabilities cannot access the child care and home care services they need. This crisis disproportionately affects Black and brown women who cannot support their families on their current earnings.
“Illinois is currently facing a workforce shortage for home care and childcare workers—a shortage that is driven by low wages and lack of retirement benefits. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Erica Bland-Durosinmi, Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Illinois has already made progress in stabilizing care under the Governor’s leadership—and Illinois can be a leader in supporting our state’s care economy, including the childcare and home care workers who make all other work possible.”
Illinois has a unique opportunity to lead the nation by prioritizing its child care and home care systems, ensuring living wages and retirement for workers. These demands, presented on Wednesday, aim to stabilize the home care and child care workforces through higher pay and retirement options. This aligns with Governor Pritzker’s vision of making Illinois the best state for families and ensuring communities have access to essential care.
“People with complex physical disabilities are just as capable of being productive members of society and contributing to the support services we depend on to achieve that productivity if and only if we have the support systems around us to make that possible,” said KL Cleeton, an Illinois resident who has been a DORS consumer since the age of 18. “We need to treat DORS Personal Assistants like the healthcare professionals they are and that starts with encouraging people to stay in this career by offering competitive salaries and benefits that can attract the workforce needed to meet the demand.”