Home Care workers win union vote in largest election in state history, seeking better pay and respect for their work and improved care for recipients
St. Paul, MN – Home care workers announced today that workers voted decisively to form their union and join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota. Workers gathered with home care clients and supporters at the Minnesota State Fair Labor Pavilion to announce that the Bureau of Mediation Services tallied the votes earlier in the day and certified the victory, with 60% of voters voting yes (5,872 Votes. Yes: 3542, No: 2306, Void/blank: 23). The election, the largest of its kind in state history, was triggered when workers turned in thousands of cards on July 8th requesting to form their union. Ballots went out on Friday, August 1st, and the historic election ran for 25 days, ending yesterday, Monday, August 25th.
At the press conference announcing the results, home care workers shared their joy over the results, coming after many years of effort. They discussed their commitment to continue fighting, through their newly-formed union, to finally make real improvements to the home care programs on which so many people with disabilities and elderly Minnesotans depend.
“This union has the power to change the lives of thousands of Minnesota families for the better,” said Yankuba Fadera, a home care worker from Maplewood. “Home care work is real and important work. Both workers and the people we serve deserve better, and winning our union and having a collective voice is a huge step toward getting a contract that makes these improvements a reality. Today, after exercising our democratic right to vote for our union, we are showing how true the statement ‘When We Fight, We Win’ can be for workers in Minnesota.”
“Despite every obstacle put in our way, we stuck to our promise to keep fighting until we were able to exercise our democratic right to let home care workers decide for themselves whether to form a union,” said Sumer Spika, a home care worker from St. Paul. “When given the right to decide for ourselves, home care workers clearly are ready for change. With our union, we will have a unified voice to fight for better conditions for ourselves and better care for those we serve.”
“Despite the importance of our work caring for Minnesotans in every corner of the state, our work still lacks the respect it deserves,” said Rosemary Van Vickle, a home care worker from Crosby. “Workers deserve things like fair pay better training and paid time off. Because we love our work and the people we serve, we have come together to fight for change. After years of struggle just to get a vote, today we are so excited to have won our union! With our collective voice, we will be stronger in our fight for improvements for both workers and the people we serve.”
Advocates with disabilities who receive home care services also spoke today about why this is an important victory for consumers as well as workers.
“When workers voted yes for their union, they were voting Yes for a better life not only for themselves, but also for families like mine,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood who attended the press conference with her husband and daughter. “The high turnover in this field, from the low pay and lack of benefits, causes turmoil for families. When we undervalue the workers, we undervalue families like mine. With a voice through a union, we are confident we will finally see the changes needed to make this work invisible no more!”
The workers voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Home care workers have been organizing to improve their jobs and Minnesota’s home care programs for years, and won the right to form a union under state law last year.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 15,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 30,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.