In Peoria, 25News Now reports that over 45,000 care workers in Illinois are urging Governor JB Pritzker to invest in the state’s essential workforce.
The primary focal points of their contract requests include a pay increase of up to $25 per hour and the implementation of a retirement package.
The crowd passionately chants, “Let’s fight for $25 dollars,” as they hold signs advocating for addressing the workforce shortage and emphasizing the right of care workers to retire. Representatives from SEIU Healthcare Illinois are leading the charge for higher pay.
Among them is Tia McKandes, a D.O.R.S. personal assistant and home care worker. Clients like Ajay Turner credit her for vital support in their lives, stating, “My best friend Tia, I am comfortable with her coming into my home. She picks up my medication, keeps track of my doctor’s appointments, relays information to the doctors, helps me in the shower, assists with grocery shopping, and sometimes even cooks for me.”
McKandes stresses that without care workers, clients may have to forgo essential needs, leading to a decline in their quality of life and, in some cases, necessitating entry into a care facility or facing mortality.
Across Illinois, members of SEIU Healthcare are intensifying pressure on the Pritzker Administration to raise wages and establish a retirement pathway. Shalane Herrod, a childcare provider, emphasizes that they are not seeking wages comparable to doctors or lawyers but are advocating for fair compensation in a field they consider the most underpaid caring profession globally.
Currently operating under a contract extension since the previous one concluded last summer, both sides are engaged in collective bargaining. A state representative informed 25News that they are committed to reaching an agreement with SEIU and other labor partners.
Herrod underlines the essential nature of their work, asserting, “We are an essential field. We are essential workers. We are essential people. We cannot be duplicated. We’re all unique and serve a great purpose that God has placed before us. However, we need the necessary funds and the respect we deserve for being essential.”
While there are no discussions of a strike at present, some workers are earning around $17 per hour. The union plans to continue organizing rallies across different parts of the state throughout the week.