Healthcare workers rally, march to protest

Healthcare workers rally, march to protest

By CHICAGO–Four hundred healthcare workers and home daycare providers will rally at the Illinois Armory building, 124 E. Adams St., Chicago, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 to garner support for their bills for living wages and healthcare. Home healthcare workers take care of the frail elderly and the disabled. Home daycare provides low-income families with subsidized daycare. Both workers earn poverty-level wages ranging between $5.75 and $7.00 with no healthcare benefits. After the rally, workers will take their message to the street and march to the capitol. At the capitol, workers will break up into small groups to meet with their elected officials and get their pledge for support.

CHICAGO–Four hundred healthcare workers and home daycare providers will rally at the Illinois Armory building, 124 E. Adams St., Chicago, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15 to garner support for their bills for living wages and healthcare. Home healthcare workers take care of the frail elderly and the disabled. Home daycare provides low-income families with subsidized daycare. Both workers earn poverty-level wages ranging between $5.75 and $7.00 with no healthcare benefits. After the rally, workers will take their message to the street and march to the capitol. At the capitol, workers will break up into small groups to meet with their elected officials and get their pledge for support.

Scheduled to attend and show their support are: Margo Schreiber, director of the Department on Aging; Lynn Handy, assistant director, Department of Public Aid; Rep. Jack McGuire and Sen. Barack Obama, chief sponsors of legislation; Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D) Majority Leader; Rep. Joel Brunsvold (D) Assistant Majority Leader; Sen. Frank Watson (R) Assistant Majority Leader; Rep. Mike Bost (R); Rep. Jim Fowler (D); Sen. Bill O’Daniel (D); Rep. Julie Curry (D); Sen. Judy Myers (R); Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D); Rep. Mike McAuliffee (R); Rep. Tom Dart (D); Rep. John Fritchey (D); Rep. Larry McKeon (D); Rep. Mary Flowers (D); Rep. Mike Boland (D); Sen. Miguel del Valle (D); Rep. Connie Howard (D); Rep. Steve Davis (D).

Local 880 member Darlene Depew, from Decatur, will give testimony at the rally. “I have $105,811.62 in unpaid hospital bills. After I had heart surgery, I was supposed to go to rehab three times a week, to learn to walk again. However, it was $56 per treatment; I couldn’t afford that, so I just didn’t go. Public Aid told me that if I quit my job, I could get disability, and they would pay for my bills. But I can work now, and I don’t want to be on disability. We need health insurance so we can continue to work.”

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“It is an honor and privilege to work with senior citizens,” said Vera Hopkins, 880 Board member from East St. Louis. “But we aren’t teenagers; we need to have insurance so we can stay healthy.” Homecare and home daycare workers are counted on by parents, children of elderly parents and the state to say “Yes” when it comes to risking personal injury, taking extra time, and giving the extra love that comes with caring for people. The state counts on this workforce to provide a safe, healthy alternative to costly nursing home care. Yet, the rapid turnover of caregivers, unfilled shifts, and inadequate pay for these workers puts all of Illinois’ disabled and elderly in jeopardy. On poverty level wages, with no health insurance, dedicated workers are forced to either say “No” to their own families and themselves when they need prescriptions or routine medical care–or to quit working in this field.

“Illinois has a record budget surplus this year. Illinois owes a debt to home healthcare and daycare workers for our years of unpaid service and lack of healthcare while we have performed a great cost-saving benefit for the state. It is time for Illinois to repay some of the debt it owes,” said Helen Miller, president of SEIU Local 880, and Chicago resident.

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