Home Care Workers and Clients With SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Praise House Passage of Contract That Helps Seniors, People With Disabilities And Their Caregivers

Agreement that covers over 20,000 workers and would raise pay floor to $15.25 now moves to Senate

SAINT PAULHome care workers and clients praised the passage of HF2128, an omnibus Human Services bill that includes ratification and funding of the union contract that covers over 20,000 home care workers across Minnesota, by the Minnesota House late Monday evening.

106942Robin Pikala, a home care worker from Fridley and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared why this contract is so important to tens of thousands of Minnesota families: 

“During this pandemic we’ve seen how essential home care workers – mostly women and people of color – are to ensuring seniors and people with disabilities in Minnesota can stay safely in their homes. Our work was always critical, but we’ve never seen the pay and benefits that our work deserves. This contract is a critical step towards building a world where we value home care, and I’m thankful the House has supported the funding and ratification,” said Pikala. “Raising the pay floor to $15.25, increasing training and boosting sick and holiday time will help to address the care crisis that has caused so many great care workers to leave this field. I’m thankful for the House supporting our contract and look forward to the same in the Senate.”

The agreement was reached between members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the State of Minnesota in January and will, if ratified and funded by the legislature, bring in over $350 million in additional state and federal funding over the next four years for services for seniors and people with disabilities. The contract, the fourth between the state and the statewide home care workers’ union, includes gains such as a $15.25 minimum wage for all home care workers beginning July 1, 2022. 

Home care client Brittanie Wilson shared why families who utilize home care services are part of the fight to help improve this critical industry: 

“Learning that the House passed our bill came with some much needed relief. For far too long caregivers have been put on the back burner and given wages that do not equate to their hard work and dedication,” said Wilson, who lives in St. Paul. “I hope that, in Conference Committee, the Senate will agree to ratify our contract. Being able to offer my current and future PCA’s more livable wages with much needed benefits will allow me to hire and retain the staff I need while living independently in the home I choose. It’s time to prioritize this industry to the fullest.”

Antionetta Giovanni, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota from Minneapolis, shared what it would mean for frontline essential workers like her to see this contract get passed by the legislature and signed into law:

“Home care and consumers have been left to fend to ourselves for years. In addition to that, PCA jobs are mainly done by women, especially women of color who are underpaid for the work and stress they encounter daily. This contract will open doors for employment since the pay will increase and benefits will be improved,” said Giovanni, who cares for her son. “As a caregiving mother to my disabled child, I can tell you how hard it is to find an alternative worker for the wages and benefits PCAs have dealt with for years. I would like to thank the members of the House for passing our contract and standing shoulder to shoulder with home care workers. This is a tremendous step forward for those whose lives depend on home care. I thank elected officials for making this progress and I am looking forward to our contract passing the Senate and getting signed by our Governor.”

Ratification and funding of the home care workers’ contract has attracted strong bipartisan support in both chambers. If passed and signed by the Governor, the provisions in the contract will go into effect on July 1st, 2021. The chief authors of the stand-alone funding and ratification bills are Rep. Luke Frederick (DFL–Mankato) and Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL–Brooklyn Park) in the House and Senator Jeff Howe (R–Rockville) and Senator Jeremy Miller (R–Winona)  in the Senate.

The bargaining team — made up of home care workers, clients and family caregivers — negotiated with the state over four months to reach this agreement, culminating in an 18-hour bargaining session on January 15th where the final agreement was reached. Union home care workers overwhelmingly voted to ratify the tentative agreement in early February. Even before COVID, thousands of families across Minnesota were struggling with a care crisis causing seniors and people with disabilities to not be able to find workers to provide the care they need to stay safely in their homes.

Highlights of the contract include:

  • Minimum wage increased from $13.25 to $14.40 in October 2021 and to $15.25 in July 2022, a 15% increase
  • More Paid Time Off: accrual rate improved from 1 hour per 40 hours worked to 1 hour per 30 hours worked
  • Two new floating holidays paid at time-and-a-half each year, allowing home care workers to receive extra pay when their clients need care on religious holidays for the first time, and bringing the total time-and-a-half holidays in the union contract each year to 7
  • Added funding to provide trainings and $500 stipends for home care workers who complete a set of training courses, to enhance the quality of care they provide to people with disabilities and seniors
  • Concrete steps toward further professionalization of the Minnesota home care workforce in the future, such as establishing a higher wage for long-time/experienced home care workers and providing better orientation to new home care workers

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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