“Share in the wealth so that we can raise staffing levels and have a living wage,” said James Muhammad, the Vice President of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois Union.
Muhammad and dozens of stateline nursing home workers and certified nursing assistants picketed outside Alden Debes rehabilitation center in Rockford in an effort to receive fair pay. The protest took place simultaneously with nearly a dozen others across the state.
“We are out here demanding a fair contract which we’ve been in over a year, and we are asking for movement on this contract immediately,” Muhammad said.
The SEIU Healthcare union, which represents more than 10,000 nursing home workers across Illinois, is advocating for a 15 dollar an hour wage. Union members say they currently make minimum wage.
Muhammad and union workers want nursing home owners to hire more workers, and increase retirement benefits.
“I’m working 14,15 hour shifts almost everyday that I’m here, and it’s still not enough for us,” said Cynthia Ayala, a CNA at Alden Debes. She believes employees like herself deserve to have more money in their pockets.
“A lot of these people are single parents as well, and I know it’s definitely hard on them,” Ayala said. “A lot of these people are overworked also working all these doubles, and our checks are not near close to support our families,” she added
The SEIU claims nursing home owners make nearly one billion dollars a year. Ayala hopes the protest will show them how important they are. “I hope that administrators see that we are serious and we are passionate about what we do,” she said. “We would like to help the people but it’s not fair to us and the residents working in these conditions,” she added.
Eyewitness News reached out to the corporate office of Alden Debes, but did not receive a response.