Issues

Airport Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Authorize ULP Strike at MSP

No date set, but workers demand action as we head towards busy Labor Day weekend

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport –  After countless setbacks because of employer recalcitrance, airport workers fighting for $15 and the right to form a union at MSP voted overwhelmingly to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice strike if no progress is made with their employer to end retaliation and win better work conditions and the right to form a union.  Airport workers announced the results at a meeting of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), and held signs saying they were “Ready to Strike.” No date was set for a possible strike, but workers showed that they are tired of retaliation and low pay, and hope to see movement by the busy Labor Day weekend. (more…)

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Union Files Formal Complaint on Mayo Outsourcing Plan, Highlight Apparent Conflict of Interest by Executive

Call for full public investigation and reversal of outsourcing decision

Rochester, Minn — SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the union that represents many of the food service workers that Mayo wants to outsource to a multi-national corporation, filed a formal complaint Monday regarding an apparent conflict of interest that was not disclosed when Mayo announced the plan on June 30th. The formal complaint, called a “grievance,” was filed with Mayo on Monday, August 1st. (more…)

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Home Care Workers and Clients Comment Following First Summit on Direct Support Workforce Hosted By Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS)

Brooklyn Center, Minn – Following the first ever Summit on Direct Support Workforce, home care workers and clients spoke out about what is needed to truly address the growing crisis facing care work in Minnesota that was continually highlighted at the summit. The summit was hosted by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).

Among the 200+ participants Tuesday was Richard Monks, a home care worker from Shoreview and a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

“It was clear after today’s summit that everyone is on the same page about the core issue driving the care crisis, which is the low wages many caregivers receive. Facing this reality, home care workers across the state with SEIU will be pushing for the Fight for $15 in our coming contract to begin addressing this emergency,” said Monks. “To really make certain all Minnesotans receive the care they deserve, and to take a big step towards addressing our care crisis, we need to value this work. One of the main components needs to be providing funding in the state budget and raising the wages of the people caring for seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota.”

One of the panelists speaking at the summit was Nikki Villavicencio, a home care client and mother from Maplewood.

“Home care needs to be treated as a real career. Home care workers need livable wages, access to the materials and training they need, and support from their peers,” said Villavicencio in her remarks to the summit. “Home care workers are my bridge to the community. People with disabilities need to be fully integrated into society, in truly meaningful ways. Without my home care worker, I can’t leave my house in the morning. I can’t be an active member of my community.”

Pattie Urie, a home care worker from St. Paul and a member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota union, attended the summit Tuesday.

“I am a mother who provides home care services for my daughter, and I also hire others to assist in providing care when I cannot,” said Urie. “I know firsthand how important it is to have properly trained home care workers across the state, and how proper training can and will help to strengthen our industry.

“As we talk about steps forward to address our crisis, making sure everyone in our industry has comprehensive training is so important, which is why our union fought to get funding into our first contract for free CPR and first aid training for thousands of home care workers starting next month,” Urie continued. “We need to make sure these jobs are valued so that those receiving care are able to live with dignity in their homes.”

Also attending the event was Sumer Spika, a home care worker from St. Paul and an elected Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

“Today was an important day that highlighted what thousands of families already know: There is a crisis in the home care field in Minnesota,” said Spika. “I am glad that home care workers and clients attended today as we see every day the implications of this crisis. I hope that in the future there will continue to be opportunities for families directly impacted by the care crisis to have a voice in crafting solutions.

“While it was good that we talked today about things like raising wages and building on the training fund we won in our first contract, we also need to deal with the immediate crisis of capped hours caused by the state not providing funding to come into compliance with federal overtime law,” Spika added. “This is hurting clients and hurting workers right now, and we need to work to fix both the long-term crisis facing seniors and people with disabilities who deserve good care, but also the current crisis that is causing so much pain for families across the state.”

In addition to home care workers and clients, members of the TakeAction Minnesota Senior caucus joined the event in their work to address the care crisis facing our state.

“As a leader with the TakeAction Minnesota Senior Caucus, we’ve held listening sessions across the state and know that finding caregivers to provide the services needed is challenging and something we are fighting to address,” said Bob Robbins, a leader in the senior caucus. “We’ve heard of home care workers leaving jobs because a big box store pays better, and this only makes the care crisis worse. 10,000 people day are retiring across the country, so this is not an issue we can wait to address.”

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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.

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SEIU Outraged at Talks of Mayo Moving Backwards on Good Jobs and Quality Care in Rochester

Rochester, Minn — With news coming out that the Mayo Clinic is talking about a race-to-the-bottom plan of moving hundreds of food service jobs to a sub-contracted, out-of-state company, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley shared the outrage felt by many when they heard of this plan.

Mayo Clinic

“The Mayo Clinic has been asking for tens of millions of dollars from the state with the pitch it will help bring ‘good jobs’ to Rochester, but now they are talking about moving hundreds of good jobs to a less stable sub-contractor to help increase their profits,” said Gulley. “Workers in these jobs provide essential services to patients at Mayo, helping to make Mayo a world renowned hospital. We are outraged they are even talking about such a controversial plan, and will be fighting it at every step to ensure that Mayo patients have the best care, the hospital system is recruiting and rewarding the world’s best workforce, and the city of Rochester is a safe and healthy place to live for everyone, not just the executives of Mayo.”

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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.

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White House to Recognize Apple Valley Resident as One of Twelve National “School Support Champions of Change”

Apple Valley, Minn – On Wednesday, May 11, the White House will recognize twelve school support professionals from across the country, including Anna Angeles-Farris from Apple Valley, as “School Support White House Champions of Change.” These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to ensure that students in our nation’s schools receive the support and motivation they need to be succeed.

Anna_Angeles-Farris_Lobby_Day_2016Educators, including school support professionals, often go above and beyond to meet all of the needs of students so they can achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. The White House set up the event to honor and celebrate the incredible work of school support professionals, who make up one-third of our nation’s education workforce. The program will feature remarks by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.

Angeles-Farris is a member of SEIU Local 284, the union of school support staff in Minnesota, and will be heading to D.C. to accept the award. In selecting Angeles-Farris for this award, the White House released the following biography about why Angeles-Farris was selected.

As a custodian at Lakeville School District, Anna Angeles-Farris has seen first-hand the successes of early childhood education, and continues to advocate for additional support for such programs. Since 2005, Angeles-Farris has been integrally involved in the pre-kindergarten program, Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), and has been a member of the ECFE Council in Lakeville, Minnesota. A lifelong resident of Minnesota, Angeles-Farris’ grew up a child of migrant working parents. She passionately believes in the need for a strong, nurturing educational system that helps all students reach their full potential. In addition to a variety of civic activity, Angeles-Farris is an advocate for the arts and served as a member of the Lakeville Art Festival committee. 

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ on Wednesday, May 11, at 2:00 PM ET. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 53,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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SEIU Minnesota Statement on Minneapolis Earned Sick and Safe Ordinance Introduction

Minneapolis, Minn — This morning the Minneapolis City Council introduced language for an Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance at their Committee of the Whole hearing. Following the hearing, SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Director Brian Elliott, who was a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that provided the recommendation for the ordinance, released the following statement:

“SEIU members have fought for years both through their union and through their elected officials to ensure no one has to choose between the health of their family and the paycheck they need to cover rent, food and other basic needs. I am proud to have worked with business leaders large and small, workers who currently lack sick time and community groups as a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that spent dozens of hours coming to the compromise we resoundingly supported with a 13-1 vote.

“I am glad the Council took our compromise as a basis for this policy, and will continue to advocate for language that makes certain we aren’t leaving any families behind. I am hopeful the Council will get this policy in place as soon as possible and cover every worker in our city so we can finally address the crisis of nearly 42% of workers in Minneapolis not having access to any paid sick time. Passing a strong Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance will be a positive step to address our city’s racial disparities and will make our city stronger for both workers and business.”

Earned_Sick_rs

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 53,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea Hospital Workers Hold Second Informational Picket Outside of Hospital As Contract Negotiations Continue to Stall

Workers and community supporters highlight contract proposals that could harm workers, hospital and the community

Albert Lea, MN – Monday evening, outside of the Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital, dozens of maintenance workers and community supporters held an informational picket to highlight stalled contract negotiations because of proposals made by Mayo that could set back workers, the hospital and the community. The workers, who are members of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, highlighted their concerns on the public sidewalk outside of the hospital as they continue their attempts to reach a fair contract agreement. The picket followed an initial informational picket in November of 2015, and saw strong support from hospital workers who are members of other unions, including Minnesota Nurses Association, AFSCME Council 65, Albert Lea Education Association, Southeast Area Labor Center and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

AlbertLea_Info_Picket_rsWorkers at the picket included Henry Tews, a maintenance engineer who has worked at the hospital for 26 years, who highlighted what changes proposed by the hospital would mean for both workers and the community.

“Like our last picket, we are here today to show that we are willing to fight for what is right for Albert Lea. Having a safe, well-run hospital is important to patients, and having decent jobs in our community is important to everyone in and around Albert Lea. That is why other hospital employees are out here and have been wearing stickers in support of our fight, because we know that our fight is just the first if we don’t stop them from taking us backwards,” said Tews. “We are ready to sit down at the bargaining table and reach an agreement with the hospital so we can continue to provide the service needed to make our hospital great. Unfortunately, Mayo executives won’t budge on their offer.”

The maintenance workers at Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital are the first unit of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members to bargain this round with Mayo, and they have held over 10 negotiation sessions over the last seven months. Many points of agreement have been reached, but workers continued to expressed frustration over proposed language that takes away the voice of longtime workers.

Another maintenance worker at the picket was Gary Wichmann, who has worked at the Albert Lea Hospital for 10 years. 

“We were excited to see such a great crowd today and be joined by Union brothers and sisters from AFSCME, the Minnesota Nurses Association and others. Today showed that the workers               who make the hospital run are standing together for a stronger Albert Lea and Mayo system. It is huge that we are all out here together to show our unity,” said Wichmann. “We’re ready to get a fair contract settled, and we hope Mayo will come to the negotiating table to get that done. This is too important to back down, and we are prepared to continue this fight as long as is needed for what is right.”

Negotiations began in August of 2015. There are currently no new negotiation sessions planned.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Minnesota Nursing Home Workers Join National “Fight for $15” to Raise Wages and Improve Quality of Care

Dozens rally just days after new report highlights how low pay and poor working conditions are exacerbating “care gap” for Baby Boomer population

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Roseville, Minn – Just hours after fast food workers went on strike across the Twin Cities, on the heels of New York and California both passing a $15 minimum wage, Minnesota nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who are currently bargaining contracts with Golden Living Center (GLC) rallied at the GLC Lakeridge site in Roseville for higher wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities. Last week alone, nearly 5,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers won a path to a $15 hourly wage through their union. Working people in Minnesota are coming together to win a similar victory.

Speaking at the event was longtime GLC Lakeridge employee Tim Sorenson, a CNA and steward with SEIU Healthcare MN, who highlighted how seniors and people with disabilities pay the price when the workers are paid low wages that aren’t enough to support their family.

“We care for your grandfathers, grandmothers, parents, sons, daughters and friends, yet we are paid so little that many people working in nursing homes have to rely on public assistance to survive,” said Sorenson. “The instability caused by poverty wages and low staffing levels means higher turnover and more people getting hurt on the job. We want better care for the people we serve, and that means wages that both bring in and keep good people on the job. That is why we are having this rally today and why we are joining the Fight for $15 as part of our current contract negotiations!”

As the national movement of fast food, child care, home care and airport workers grows, nursing home workers, among the most underpaid working women and men in the country,  are joining to stand up to the corporate greed that is keeping wages low and failing our communities. SEIU nursing home members are taking action today in more than 40 cities in 16 states, calling for fair wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities who depend upon nursing home care.  There are strikes in a number of states, including in Florida where 2,000 nursing home workers will go on a 24-hour strike at 19 Consulate Healthcare facilities, the largest healthcare strike in the Southeast in more than a decade.

The events come just days after a new report highlighted the crisis facing care work. Key findings from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) report, Raise the Floor: Quality Nursing Home Care Depends on Quality Jobs, released Tuesday include:

  • In Minnesota, CNAs earn a median hourly wage of $12.22, taking home so little that as many as 33% rely on public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid.
  • As a result of low pay, insufficient staffing levels, high injury rates, and limited on-the-job support, nursing home employers can neither recruit nor retain qualified nursing assistants.
  • The average turnover rates for nursing assistants exceeded 50 percent in 2012 and are expected to climb as there are more opportunities for higher-paying jobs with better working conditions.
  • The cumulative growth in the number of women and men over the age of 85 will exceed that of the working-age population by more than 10 times over the next 45 years, creating a “care gap” crisis.
  • Nationally:
    • 91 percent of nursing assistants are women; 53 percent are people of color.
    • Nursing assistants earn median hourly wage of $11.51 and annual earnings of $19,000. Real wages for CNAs have decreased by 7 percent in the last decade.
    • 1 in 3 CNAs relies on taxpayer-funded public benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid.

According to PHI, nursing assistants and workers providing laundry, food and housekeeping services are undervalued and underpaid, often viewed “as a cost to be managed rather than an asset to invest.” Keeping the wage floor low leads to half of nursing home workers leaving their positions each year and adds to the gap in available trained long term care providers.

Today, more than 1.3 million older Americans and people with disabilities reside in nursing homes and the rapidly aging population will create an explosive demand for long term care services. Ten thousand women and men turn 65 every day, and the numbe r of older Americans in greatest need of 24-hour care in a nursing home setting—women and men over the age of 85—is poised to nearly triple by 2050.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Minnesota Home Care Worker Responds to Governor Dayton’s Supplemental Budget As Severe Care Crisis Continues

HCW_Capitol_Rally_rsSt. Paul, Minn – Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget today, which included funding to bring the state into compliance with new federal overtime rules in regards to home care workers. Currently, many seniors and people with disabilities who receive home care services are facing issues getting the care they need because home care workers are having their hours capped at 40 hours per week. With a severe shortage of home care workers in the state, this has resulted in challenges for those needing care. The overtime rule was changed by President Obama in 2015 to fix the injustice of care workers, predominantly women and people of color, having been deliberately excluded from the basic legal protections around minimum wage and overtime created in the 1930s.

Home care clients and workers have worked together to make certain the
state fixes this issue so that all home care clients have the care that they need. In response to Gov. Dayton allocating money to address this problem in his supplemental budget, home care worker Marie Bounds from Brooklyn Park released the following statement:

“We are very glad to see that Governor Dayton has recognized that this issue is important to thousands of families with seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota, by adding funding for overtime pay in his supplemental budget,” said Bounds. “Recently I was told I can’t work more than 40 hours per week between my two clients, so I had to choose which client I was going to help, and which client I would have to cut back on care for. They both have extensive care needs and I’ve been their PCA for nearly 4 years. One client really needed the extra 7 hours, but I had to cut back being his PCA. It is a challenge for him to find someone who is reliable for just those few hours, because of the shortage of home care workers. Fixing this issue will help families all over Minnesota and is a step towards making our state a better place for all of us. We look forward to fighting to get this funding for the overtime pay we need and to which we’re now entitled under federal law, along with protections so that workers like me can’t have our hours capped at 40 hours per week anymore, so that no senior or person with disabilities struggles to get the care they deserve.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Minnesota must raise smoking age to 21 to save lives, protect kids

Saint Paul, Minn — Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Minnesota is calling on Governor Dayton and state legislators to follow California’s lead and pass vital legislation that will protect kids and save thousands of lives by raising the minimum age to buy tobacco.

“California legislators overcame heavy-handed lobbying and threats from the tobacco industry, passing Tobacco 21 legislation because they recognized their duty to protect families in their state.  Don’t the children of Minnesota deserve the same chance to grow up addiction-free?” said Jamie Gulley, President of the SEIU Minnesota State Council. 

Last week, the California State Assembly passed SB 7 X2 by State Senator Ed Hernandez that will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. California will now join Hawaii as the second state to make this important change.

Ninety-five percent (95%) of adult tobacco users started before they were 21 years old. Of those kids who become regular smokers, 1 in 3 will die from tobacco-related diseases.

Even tobacco industry researchers acknowledge that addiction-prone adolescents are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to become lifelong smokers, the reason Big Tobacco vehemently fought the Tobacco 21 legislation in California.

“Saving lives by keeping tobacco out of teens’ hands is a legacy that Minnesota leaders can embrace by fighting the number one cause of preventable death in our state.”

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in your homes, hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, hotels, universities and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings, and who make and distribute products used by Minnesotans every day. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 53,000 people SEIU represents throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota and Workers United.

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