Migrant shelter workers toiling 12 hours a day, 7 days a week? What’s the deal?

A child pushed in a stroller watches as contractors working at the Inn of Chicago migrant shelter unload supplies and transport them into the shelter on Oct. 3, 2023. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Security guards are often hard workers. And some shift workers prefer to do the job in 12-hour stints, three, four or even five days a week. Nothing that unusual there.

But the invoices filed by Favorite Healthcare Staffing, a national employment firm (owned by the U.K.-based Acacium Group) that is Chicago’s biggest contractor when it comes to providing staff for the city’s migrant shelters, raises some major questions.


According to Tribune reporting, during one week in March the majority of Favorite Staffing workers at migrant shelters logged 84-hour workweeks and their agency billed the city accordingly, or so the examined invoices imply. To save you the math, that means 12 hours a day, seven days a week. To reiterate: We’re not talking a couple or three zealous workers interested in a whole lot of overtime but scores of workers, all apparently choosing to work 12 hours, 7 days a week.

To be clear, we don’t have evidence of fraud and there may well be an explanation for these billings we don’t yet know. But we’d still like to invite Favorite Healthcare Staffing to come in and discuss with us the how and why of such a high percentage of their workers logging those kinds of highly unusual hours, which require all kinds of overtime, a portion of which presumably accrues to Favorite Healthcare Staffing, assuming they follow standard agency practice.

We’d also like to know how shelter workers doing epic shifts of 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, week after week, seemingly as a matter of routine, can be expected to do an adequate job for the migrants in their charge.

As an example, Tribune reporting found, one guard reported to the city it was at least his 56th day in a row working a 12-hour shift. That’s 12 hours, every day for more than seven weeks.

That’s assuming the billing is accurate. At this point, we just don’t know, since Favorite Healthcare Staffing has not said and the city has not released all of the invoices (it should).

To say that a full audit is merited understates.

This is all adding up to a massive amount of money: some $56 million in billings. A senior vice president for the company told our reporters that Favorite Healthcare Staffing charges “fair and market-based” prices but failed to address the elephant in the room, which is the number of hours worked by a vast majority of the guards.

The history of this goes back to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration, which had to ramp up shelters quickly and in doing so, based these contracts on a similar need for help during the COVID-19 crisis.

All of that is to some degree understandable. But a majority of workers working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week is not.