It's all about the patients. Nursing home workers say that's the reason behind protesting Wednesday afternoon, and they're not alone.
Two thousand nursing home employees carried this attitude across the state at more than 50 nursing home facilities. One of those is Rockford's Alden Debes Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.
The workers' contract has been up since December, they're negotiating a new one with nursing home owners, with help from the Service Employees International Union. One Alden Park Strathmoor employee, who can to Alden Debes to picket, is unhappy with owners' offers so far.
"They're talking so much about being stuck on a budget so even the hours we do pick up, the don't want us to, because they don't want to pay us the overtime. They're talking about taking away our vacation pay and our holiday pay to give us our raises, and we're not going for that either." -says Alden Park Strathmoor Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, Brittany Damisch.
Damisch has worked 106 hours over the last two weeks at $9.20 an hour. If conditions stay this way, she might have to leave Alden Park Strathmoor and try to find another job.
"I've been looking at hospitals in Rockford and at a few places in Belvidere, too." -says Damisch.
Alden Debes Activity Aid Latasha Vella says the union will talk with her facility's administration tomorrow.
"They're going to the bargaining table as far as I know, to meet with the owner, see if they can come to an agreement with certain things the union wants to see, certain things the building wants to see." -says Vella.
Workers are saying unfair wages cause high employee turnover and short staffing. They're also seeing a problem with supply shortages.
"We do work hard, we give quality care, we put our hearts in what we do, and we just want to be appreciated." -says Alden Debes CNA Janice Purifoy.
Alden released this statement saying:
"Alden Debes and Alden Park Strathmoor are members of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities. The association has been negotiating with the union in good faith to renew the contract. We are disheartened by the picketing and inflammatory comments made by the union in an effort to disrupt the ongoing negotiations. Alden wants to assure our residents and the community that we will continue to provide quality care and services during the ongoing talks."
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