CHICAGO (CBS) -- Caregivers on strike against a Chicago area nursing home company got some reinforcements on Monday, as representatives of doctors' and nurses' groups joined Infinity Healthcare Management nursing home workers on the picket line.
The caregivers have been on strike for a week, demanding higher wages, hazard pay, and better staffing.
Monday morning, a nurse and doctor who both work for University of Illinois Hospital stopped by to support them.
"It is unconscionable for workers to not have the PPE that they need to protect themselves, so they can provide quality care to the residents of these homes," said Paul Pater, a registered nurse and chief steward for the Illinois Nurses Association at University of Illinois Hospital.
On Nov. 23, approximately 700 Infinity Healthcare Management caregivers at the company's 11 nursing homes went on strike. The workers said their contract expired in May, and they've been bargaining for a new one since June.
Aside from better wages and hazard pay, another sticking point has been a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, something they said is a matter of life and death, especially during a pandemic.
The caregivers said City View Multicare Center in Cicero has the state's highest number of COVI-19 cases. The workers also said a second Infinity facility, Niles Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, currently has the most coronavirus deaths.
"This particular nursing home network appears not to want to pay the living wage to attract workers … to take care of patients. So I'm here today to support these frontline heroes, and to say it's not enough to call them heroes, but they must get a living wage as well," said Dr Peter Orris, professor and chief of occupational and environmental medicine at University of Illinois Hospital.
Infinity Healthcare workers and management will meet again at the negotiating table on Tuesday.
The caregivers are hoping they'll leave with an agreement, but said they'll continue to strike until they get what's fair.
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