Illinois child care, home care workers kick off statewide 'Good Care Jobs Sprint' in Springfield

Amid an escalating care crisis in Illinois, marked by rising demand and low wages driving workers away, child care and home care workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois gathered Wednesday at the state Capitol to highlight the need to stabilize the workforce through living wages and a pathway to retirement.

The rally in Springfield marks the start of a series of statewide actions calling for "good care jobs" throughout Illinois. More than 45,000 child care and home care workers, who deliver crucial services through state-run programs, are in contract negotiations with the Pritzker administration.

At the rally, home and child care workers shared their experiences as front-line caregivers and explained the immense impact higher wages and a pathway to retirement would have on their families and communities.

During the march workers and allies carried signs reading "Make Care Jobs Good Jobs" and "Care Workers Deserve to Retire," and chanted "1, 2, 3, 4, Fair pay's what we're fighting for, 5, 6, 7, 8, Our retirement can't wait."

"Our industry struggles with high levels of turnover because of low wages and a lack of benefits," said Judy Hunter, a DORS personal assistant on Chicago's south side. "Many talented caregivers are forced to leave this line of work for higher paying careers because we simply are not paid enough to support a family. Gov. (J.B.) Pritzker says he wants to make Illinois the best state in the country to raise a family ... the way we achieve this goal is by making sure that working families across our state have access to the care services they need to look after their loved ones so that everyone can participate in the workforce."

A statewide shortage of care workers fueled by low pay, benefits, and retirement options means working families and people with disabilities cannot access the child care and home care services they need, according to union officials.

The crisis also disproportionately affects Black and brown women who cannot support their families on their current earnings, the union said.

"Illinois is currently facing a workforce shortage for home care and child-care workers - a shortage that is driven by low wages and lack of retirement benefits. It doesn't have to be this way," said Erica Bland-Durosinmi, vice president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. "Illinois has already made progress in stabilizing care under the governor's leadership - and Illinois can be a leader in supporting our state's care economy, including the child-care and home care workers who make all other work possible."

SEIU Healthcare Illinois members and allies rallied Wednesday for living wages and retirement to strengthen the care workforce at the state Capitol in Springfield. Courtesy of SEIU Healthcare Illinois
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