November 27, 2023

AFSCME intervenes to block sale of DeKalb nursing home

The sale of the DeKalb County Nursing Home to a for-profit buyer has been blocked by a state review board after new light was shed on the questionable background and ethics of its would-be for-profit buyer.

“We know there’s more work to be done,” said Chuck Simpson, AFSCME Local 3537’s president and a restorative aide at the home. “But we’re happy to know that the union will live on here at a public nursing home. We’re all very proud of this home, and we’re all so happy that this sale didn’t go through.”

The DeKalb County Board voted last year to sell the home—which has been publicly-owned and operated for 170 years—to Illuminate H.C. Another company, Saba Healthcare, also entered a bid to buy the home, but was strongly rejected by the DeKalb County Board due to its questionable history.

But it was later revealed before the Illinois Health Facilities and Review Board that Illuminate H.C. had purchased Saba Healthcare. Local 3537 and Council 31 both spoke to the review board, expressing the union’s concern about the company’s checkered past. The review board agreed, and declined to let the sale continue.

Even as the nursing home remains in public hands, the members of Local 3537 will still receive a bonus that was tied to the sale.

An agreement made to keep employees on through the end of the sale included a retention bonus of $2 an hour for every hour worked from August 2022 through “the date of the sale.” With no other sale prospects on the horizon, the bonus came due at the termination of the plan.

From the start of the sale process to its ultimate termination, Local 3537 never stopped fighting. They engaged with the home’s council of residents to organize letter-writing campaigns and petitions and encouraged residents and staff to voice their disagreement with turning their public good into a for-profit company.
“When you have something good, you fight for it,” Simpson said.

Shortly after the sale was terminated, Local 3537 started bargaining a new contract. They want to turn over a new leaf and show that the DeKalb County Nursing Home can continue to thrive in public hands. They’re seeking wage increases that will increase recruitment and retention and demanding fair treatment and respect for staff.

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