The contract, which needs to be ratified by Union members and the state Legislature, would increase wages for thousands of home care workers from $11 to $13 per hour, boost paid time off, and provide more training opportunities and new holiday pay
Saint Paul – Home care workers and clients who have been bargaining their second Union contract with the State of Minnesota announced a Tentative Agreement (TA) Thursday morning. The TA was reached late Wednesday evening after four months of negotiations. Highlights of the TA included:
- A $2/hour increase in the wage floor, from $11/hour to $13/hour
- Over $1m in State support for home care worker trainings
- New stipends to reward home care workers for taking additional trainings that enable them to provide their clients with safer, higher-quality care
- The first holiday pay for Minnesota home care workers (many of whom provide essential care on holidays that allows their clients to celebrate with their families), with time-and-a-half pay for two holidays
- More Paid Time Off, building on the new benefit won in their first contract in 2015
- Additional wage increases for workers providing support to clients with the highest, most complex care needs
- An online matching registry, to help home care clients find workers and to help home care workers find clients.
Jim Carlisle, a disability rights advocate who has received home care services for over forty years and was a member of the bargaining team, said the changes agreed to in negotiations would, if ratified by the Union and legislature, represent major steps forward in addressing the care crisis thousands of families across Minnesota currently face.
“My wife and I both rely on home care workers in our day-to-day life. As the current care crisis has grown, we’ve seen the harm to families like ours across the state because of the lack of quality caregivers. I was proud to be on the Union’s bargaining team and to have a chance to help reach this tentative agreement that would raise wages, invest in training and improve benefits to help attract and retain the quality home care workers we need now and will need even more as our population ages,” said Carlisle, who lives in West St. Paul.
Dawn Burnfin from Chisholm, a home care worker and mother of five who was also part of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team, talked about why the changes in this Tentative Agreement would, if ratified, be so important:
“I am passionate about my job and proud of the good work home care workers do keeping Minnesotans safe and in their homes. The gains in the Tentative Agreement would begin to make home care workers feel like our time, skills and work are just as important as other jobs,” said Burnfin. “I hope elected officials who aren’t yet affected by the care crisis understand it may not be long before you or your spouse or your parent will need someone to care for them. When that time comes, do you want someone well-paid and well-trained, so your loved one gets the care they deserve, or do you want someone who is just passing through until they can find some other job with decent pay and benefits? This tentative agreement is a step towards fixing the care crisis we have ignored for too long, to make sure every Minnesotan gets the care they deserve.”
If the Tentative Agreement gets ratified by Union members, it would then go to the legislature for their approval. The final step would be having it signed by Governor Dayton. The negotiations took place in the months preceding the state’s legislative session in order to ensure that legislators have the opportunity to review the terms of the proposed agreement and vote on whether to ratify it. Carlisle shared why it is so crucial for elected officials to approve the proposed contract and take steps to address the care crisis in our state.
“My wife and I have seen the best of home care workers, some of whom became like family to us. But we’ve also experienced the trauma that comes when there are not real investments in care work. Everyone who wants and needs it should have access to good, safe care in their homes, and by ratifying this contract the Minnesota Legislature will be taking a strong step towards making that a reality. Having people with disabilities and seniors remain in our homes doesn’t just make our lives better; it also saves taxpayers millions of dollars, compared to having us in nursing homes or other institutional settings.”
The Tentative Agreement comes as groups funded by corporate special interests to undermine the democratically elected Union were dealt yet another setback. Earlier this week the Bierman v. Dayton court case, which aims to strip home care workers in the bargaining unit of their ability to come together and fight to improve the home care industry, was rejected in federal district court.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.