STATEWIDE — SEIU Healthcare Illinois child care and home care members joined with allies and families who depend on care Monday in Chicago as they escalated their ongoing campaign to make care jobs good jobs. The rally comes as 45,000 care workers continue to bargain with the Pritzker Administration for a new contract, asking the Governor for his continued leadership in solving the state’s care crisis. Video of the rally is available here. Photos are available here.
Gathering outside the Illinois Department of Human Services Office in downtown Chicago, speakers called on Governor Pritzker to take steps to address the statewide care crisis by investing in the workers who provide vital care. Their remarks detailed what workers are calling for at the bargaining table with the Pritzker Administration: living wages and a pathway to retirement for child and home care workers across Illinois.
“In order for families to get the quality child care they need, we have to invest in the workforce. The time is now,” said Dreena Woods, who depends on child care for her children. “It’s not right that people playing such important roles in our communities don’t get the pay and benefits they should.”
Anthony McClay, a home care recipient, also shared his personal story during the rally: “There are a lot of people like me out there who are suffering, but who cannot access the services I’ve benefited from because there simply aren’t enough home care workers available to meet our state’s demand. And that is why we are here today.”
The rally is part of a weeks-long “Good Care Job Sprint” all across Illinois where care workers who provide care through state-run programs have raised their voices to call for a strong contract to address the mounting care crisis in the state. Care workers kicked off the campaign in early November with a major march and rally in front of the Springfield State Capitol building. The sprint included additional worker-led speak outs in Carbondale, Peoria, Alton, Springfield and Rockford to highlight how the care crisis impacts families all over the state. Workers have also made a major investment in radio and digital ads throughout Illinois to encourage the Pritzker administration to invest in workers.
Judy Hunter, a home care worker from Chicago, shared her experience and a path forward: “Governor Pritzker says he wants to make Illinois the best state in the country to raise a family. We do too. And the way we do that is by providing child care and assistance to people with disabilities, and by investing in those workers with good pay and good benefits. For us that means a path to $25 per hour and the ability to retire with dignity.”
“We’ve spoken out about the importance of making Care Jobs Good Jobs in Rockford, Peoria, Carbondale, Alton—and twice in Springfield,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley. “We have a deep appreciation for Governor Pritzker’s leadership—and the steps he has already taken to strengthen these programs and to protect workers in the state. We share his goal of making Illinois the best state in the country for working families. We are asking the Governor for his continued leadership—to make Care Jobs Good Jobs.”
In actions across the state, care workers, community leaders, elected officials and more are sharing the importance of investing in the home care and child care workforces to stabilize and expand care services so that all working families and people with disabilities have access to the services they need.
LaTonya Mitchell, a child care provider in Chicago called for fair wages and retirement benefits at today’s Chicago rally: “Child care providers are the workforce behind the workforce and we have always been essential with the roles we play. But the work we do goes unacknowledged. This is why we are facing a crisis right now. As child care providers and educators, we deserve respect. We deserve pay we can support our families on. And we deserve to be able to retire with dignity.”
Illinois has the opportunity to lead the nation as the top state in prioritizing child care and home care systems by providing workers with living wages and access to retirement. The bargaining demands would be a big step towards stabilizing Illinois home care and child care workforces by investing in higher pay and a path to retire with dignity one day. These standards can help realize Pritzker’s vision of making Illinois the best state to raise a family in and ensure Illinois communities have access to the care they need.