Tentative agreement reached by striking Chicago-area nursing home workers

Striking Chicago-area nursing home workers have reached a tentative contract agreement with Infinity Healthcare Management, the union representing the workers announced Friday.

Approximately 800 employees of Infinity Healthcare walked off the job on Nov. 23, demanding higher wages and safer working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic that’s hit nursing homes hard. The workers, including cooks, housekeepers and certified nursing assistants have been negotiating for a new contract since June. Their last contract expired in May.

The tentative deal for two-and-a-half years includes a $1 to $2 pay increase, and $2.50 in extra pay for work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The workers will also receive an additional five days of COVID-19-related sick time.

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Striking workers said Infinity discontinued pandemic pay for employees at the end of July and pays workers base wages well below those of other nursing homes in the Chicago area, despite receiving $12.7 million in COVID-19 funding through the federal coronavirus rescue package.

“This contract is about more than base wages and pandemic pay — though it’s absolutely crucial that frontline caregivers make enough to support their own families and are compensated for risking their lives during this pandemic,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley. ``It’s about lifting up the standard of care at Infinity facilities and across the state, because workers deserve better and residents deserve better.”

There was no immediate comment on the tentative deal by Infinity Healthcare.