Female nurse suffering from headache
Photo credit: gpointstudio / Getty Images

Workers at 11 Chicago-area nursing homes on Thursday gave notice that they plan to strike in 10 days, following a breakdown in talks over staffing and wages.

The Labor Day strike would affect a group of nursing homes operated by Infinity Healthcare Management and owners Michael Blisko and Gubin Enterprises. Union officials have accused the company of intentionally staffing buildings below required state levels and continuing to pay “many” staff members minimum wage.

In November 2020, workers at some of the same facilities went on strike to protest chronic short staffing and failure to provide personal protective equipment and other safeguards for workers. They won some concessions then, but many of the same concerns have resurfaced.

They have been working to secure higher pay that workers say will help with recruitment and retention since before a contract expired June 30. They’re seeking wages in line with other local facilities and a pay scale that rewards longevity, a union spokeswoman told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

“Despite the consequences of paying poverty wages … Infinity owners seem far more concerned with their profit levels than their staffing levels in the homes,” a union official said during a press conference Thursday evening. “Their priorities are misplaced. While owners and their investors reap exorbitant profits off of the back of the workers and the residents that they take care of, Infinity turnover rates are extremely high.” 

Infinity executives could not be reached for comment Thursday. A voicemail box for the company’s Illinois office was full Thursday, and an email from McKnight’s sent to a publicly listed address was returned as undeliverable. 

The Infinity nursing homes named in the strike notice are:

  • City View Multicare Center in Cicero
  • Niles Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niles
  • Lakeview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago
  • Ambassador Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago
  • Continental Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago
  • Oak Lawn Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center in Oak Lawn
  • Southpoint Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chicago
  • West Suburban Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bloomingdale
  • Forest View Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Itasca
  • Momence Meadows Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Momence
  • Parker Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Streator

During the press conference, workers complained about allegedly deplorable physical conditions at the facilities, in addition to resident care issues created by staffing levels.

In all, Infinity operates 53 facilities in five states, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ownership data. Two of those facilities are on the Special Focus Facility list, and another four are candidates. Twenty-two facilities — more than a third — also have an abuse icon on Care Compare.
The union representing workers in the Chicago area accused the chain of paying “unlivable wages” that drive high turnover. SEIU put that rate at 80%; CMS reports a 60.3% total nurse turnover rate across the entire portfolio.