CHICAGO — Nursing home workers are sounding the alarm on what they called a matter of public safety: dangerously low staffing levels. 

“Illinois families deserve better,” said Service Employees International Union regional president Greg Kelley about a push for federal legislation regulating nursing homes. 

City lawmakers have joined the fight, with the SEIU garnering support from Chicago Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. 

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“That is not only good for these over-burdened workers, but it means it will save lives for nursing residents,” Schakowsky said.

The legislation that has President Joe Biden’s backing would mandate an employee-to-resident ratio and one-on-one real-time care for elderly residents.

Disproportionately, Schakowsky says Brown and Black residents receive less quality care. 

“We need to make sure that everyone…everyone has equal care in nursing homes,” Schakowsky said.

SEIU organizers say better staffing is tied to a better quality of life for residents, from showering and basic hygiene to taking medications and getting regular doctor checkups. 

“We know we need federal intervention and we need it now,” Kelley added.

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Schakowsky is backing a bill that ties staffing standards to Medicare and Medicaid funding now before Congress. The SEIU says the influence of nursing home lobbyists is a big reason why the newer, stricter measures have yet to be the standard operating procedure.