DECATUR, Ill. – In response to Gov. Rauner’s efforts to privatize nursing jobs at a dozen Illinois prisons, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, helped pass legislation Thursday that would prevent 124 prison nurses from being laid off and their jobs from being outsourced to a private for-profit corporation based in Pennsylvania.
“Prison nurses have difficult jobs and work in dangerous environments, and privatizing these positions would put nurses’ safety and their families’ financial well-being at risk,” Scherer said. “I am fighting to protect working families in Central Illinois, not send taxpayer money to an out-of-state corporation that has been subject to controversy.”
Senate Bill 19 would restrict the state’s ability to outsource prison nursing jobs to Wexford Health Solutions, a private for-profit corporation based in Pennsylvania with a record of improper care and unsafe conditions for inmates as well as employees. If Illinois moves forward with the privatization plan, 124 nurses currently employed by the state would be fired. They could potentially be re-hired by Wexford to work for lower wages, severely reduced benefits, and fewer hours.
“It is fundamentally unfair to tell registered nurses in the Illinois Department of Corrections they are going to be fired, but they can come back to work and do the exact same job for less pay and no pension,” said Alice Johnson, Executive Director, Illinois Nurses Association. “These nurses have dedicated their careers to providing patient care in an extremely difficult setting. Their knowledge and loyalty are assets to the department and to the people of Illinois. Smart employers are competing for experienced registered nurses, not laying them off. Ultimately, cutting quality health care staff does not save money, as cuts diminish the quality of care, and that leads to lawsuits against the state.”
For more information, please contact Scherer’s constituent service office at 217-877-9636 or by email at StateRepSue@gmail.com. Scherer represents the 96th District, which includes portions of Christian, Macon and Sangamon counties.