SEIU Care workers demanding higher pay, retirement package amidst contract talks

PEORIA (25News Now) – More than 45,000 Illinois care workers are demanding Governor JB Pritzker invest in the state’s essential workers.

The two main items at the top of their contract demands: increase pay up to $25/hour and a retirement package.

“Let’s fight for $25 dollars. Let’s fight for $25 dollars,” the crowd chants.

With signs reading ‘solve the workforce shortage’ and ‘care workers deserve to retire,’ representatives from SEIU Healthcare Illinois are asking for more pay.

Tia McKandes, is a D.O.R.S. personal assistant and a home care worker.

She has clients like Ajay Turner, a D.O.R.S. Consumer, who credit her for helping him stay alive.

Turner explains that ”my best friend Tia I am comfortable with coming in to my home. She picks up my medication. Keeps track of my doctor’s appointments. The information the doctors need, she let’s them know. She helps me in to the shower. She helps me grocery shop, helping me stay within my monthly budget. Sometimes she cooks for me.”

McKandes says, the clients choose to ”go without if they do not have a care worker. Their quality of life goes down and they are either forced to go into a home or just pass away, if they end up giving up.”

Across the state, members of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois are applying pressure on the Pritzker Administration to increase their pay and provide a pathway to retirement.

Shalane Herrod, a childcare provider says, ”we’re not looking for a doctor’s wage. We’re not looking for a lawyer’s wage. We’re the most underpaid caring field in the world.”

The workers are under a contract extension at the moment, since the current one ended over this past summer.

A representative from the state told 25News, since both sides are in collectively bargaining, the state is committed to reaching an agreement with SEIU and other labor partners.

Herrod says, ”we are an essential field. We are essential workers. We are essential people. We cannot be duplicated. We’re all unique and we’re all for a great purpose that god has put before us and we need to continue to serve but we need the funds. We need the same respect we deserve because we’ve been essential.”

Currently, there are no talks of a strike and some workers are making around $17/hour.

The union is planning to continue these rallies throughout other parts of the state this week.

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