Agreement reached to avert strike at area nursing homes

 
 
Updated 5/7/2020 12:52 PM

A union representing nursing home workers and an association of roughly 100 nursing homes in and around Chicago reached a deal to avoid a strike that could have started Friday, both sides announced Thursday.

SEIU Healthcare Local 4 employees were prepared to strike at 64 locations represented by the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities as they sought pay increases and safeguards while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the union said in a statement on its website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Among suburban nursing homes where the new contract is effective are Abbington Rehab & Nursing Center in Roselle, Alden of Waterford in Aurora, Alden Estates of Barrington, Alden Des Plaines, Elevate Care Northbrook, The Grove of Skokie, Gross Pointe Manor in Niles, Aperion Care Midlothian and Symphony at Aria in Hillside.

Union workers, including certified nursing assistants and dietary, activity, laundry and housekeeping employees, are in line to receive higher baseline wages through the new two-year deal. The Association of Health Care Facilities said it will provide base pay raises of up to 24%, and the union said the raises bring all workers' pay to more than $15 an hour by the contract's second year.

"The Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities is proud that is has negotiated the largest wage hike in our history for our employees," said Bob Molitor, a board member of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities and CEO of The Alden Network.

The deal also provides $2-per-hour COVID-19 bonus pay for all 10,000 affected employees and expands sick leave, with fully paid sick days for COVID-19 testing, illness or quarantine.

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The COVID-19 bonus pay is set to begin once the contract is ratified and will last 45 days, the Association of Health Care Facilities said, with a possible 45-day extension for staff members at nursing homes with active COVID-19 cases.

The union is expected to ratify the contract on or around May 15. The previous deal expired at midnight April 30.

"All of the major contract gains will help safeguard the health and safety of workers and the residents for which they care -- at a time when both are vulnerable to the risks associated with COVID-19," the union statement said.

Negotiations toward a new contract were scheduled to begin in January, but sessions were delayed because of the pandemic. Originally, the pact was to be a four-year deal. The sides also considered a one-year option before settling on the two-year deal that averted the planned strike.

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