Dozens of Illinois nursing home providers helped avert a strike by increasing wages by 24% and agreeing to provide hazard pay for workers.

The deal between providers and SEIU Healthcare, which represents employees at more than 100 Illinois nursing homes, was announced Thursday. Workers were set to strike at 64 facilities on Friday, citing concerns about personal protective equipment and paid time off for coronavirus-related illnesses.

“The operators who comprise the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities recognize the incredible work of their employees and it was time to elevate our essential frontline workers to the living wage they deserve,” Bob Molitor, board member and the Alden Network CEO, said in a statement to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

“It is the largest wage increase in our history and we are proud to achieve the Fight for $15 in our facilities ahead of Chicago and Illinois. The scale of the package certainly sets it apart,” Molitor added. 

The agreement increases workers’ pay to more than $15 per hour, while also providing a $2 per hour COVID-19 bonus pay for all affected employees, the Daily Herald reported. The bonus pay will begin once the contract is ratified, which is expected to happen near May 15, and will last 45 days.

The deal also expands sick leave for workers and promises fully paid sick days for COVID-19 related testing, illness or quarantine. Employees will get up to five additional paid sick days for COVID-specific reasons, such as being sent home for symptoms, awaiting test results or a positive diagnosis, Molitor noted.

The contract also ensures that employees are not required to work without adequate PPE. 

“The contract gains are a testament to the courage and commitment of workers who were poised to strike at 64 facilities in order to protect themselves and the residents for which they care during this time of unprecedented vulnerability and risk,” SEIU Healthcare said in a statement.