By Dave Dahl
SPRINGFIELD – In another sign that the pandemic is moving farther into the past, hundreds of union members crowded into the Capitol Rotunda Thursday to rally for higher wages for home care workers.
Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois contend that higher wages, including the actual wage also being paid during training, would lead to less turnover and better caregivers.
“Our home care industry has a 65 percent turnover nationally,” said State Sen. Javier Cervantes (D-Chicago). “That is unacceptable. It is important that we take steps, making home care jobs good jobs that pay well, better benefits and quality training for all.”
“We’re gonna get that eighteen” dollars per hour, said Greg Kelley, the union’s president. “But we ain’t gonna stop at eighteen. Are we gonna stop at eighteen? Eighteen is the floor!”
Kelley added that for all the talk of “health care heroes” during the pandemic, the nation has a short memory, with an average wage of about fourteen dollars an hour.
And the crowd heard from someone currently on the front lines. “We are caring for others’ loved ones, and we should be paid a living wage that allows us to take care of our loved ones, too.”
Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]