Issues

As Governor Dayton Signs Bill, Workers Join Minnesotans Across the State In Applauding Passage of Minimum Wage Increase

SAINT PAUL, MN –Today, as Governor Dayton signed into law the bill to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50 by 2016 and index it to inflation, workers praised lifting the pay floor in Minnesota as a step forward for families in our state, but acknowledged that there is still much work to do. Recognizing the hundreds of thousands of workers who will receive an raise and the benefit this will bring to our communities, workers praised the coalition who fought for the win and the legislative champions who made it happen. (more…)

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House Passage of Women’s Economic Security Act Praised As Step Forward for Working Families

SEIU Members highlight work on retirement security

SAINT PAUL, Minn –SEIU members praised the passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act in the Minnesota House Wednesday as a great step in helping working families in our state, recognizing that when women and families do better, our whole state does better. Among the numerous strong provisions in the bill, members expressed particular interest in continuing to fight for a state-administered retirement plan that will be studied by this bill.  (more…)

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Public School Staff React to Passage of ‘Safe Schools’ Bill

Members of SEIU Local 284 praise steps to improve lives of Minnesota children

Saint Paul, Minn – Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 members who work in public schools in Minnesota praised the passage of the “The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools” Act, which Governor Mark Dayton will sign today after passage in the Minnesota House and Senate. Workers in Minnesota pu
blic schools recognize the damaging impacts that bullying causes every day and were pleased at this step being taken to change the climate for students. (more…)

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What you need to know about Retirement Security

Minnesota Secure Choice Retirement Savings Act

 

Approximately one million Minnesota workers are not currently saving for retirement at their place of work, largely because they have no access to a workplace retirement savings plan.  As a result, approximately 168,000 Minnesota households nearing retirement age (55-64) have no retirement savings, and face the prospect of living in poverty on Social Security alone, or continuing to work well into their “retirement” years.  Minnesota must do better for our workers who work hard and play by the rules and hope to be able to enjoy their retirement years.

Minnesota can create the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan to give workers without a retirement savings plan through their employer, access to a convenient, low-cost, portable, state-managed retirement plan, without adding any new liabilities to state coffers.

Problem:

  • Millions of American workers do not have any type of employer-sponsored retirement.
  • An estimated 1 in 6 seniors currently retire into poverty.
  • 40% of workers do not have access to any retirement savings plan.
  • Many Minnesotans are hindered from saving for retirement by the daunting task of setting up a plan.
  • Workers change jobs and are unsure of how to “roll over” plans or begin new plans.
  • People are unsure of how much money they will need for retirement.
  • The fees and protections (insurance against loss and group annuities) are costly and not always available for individuals.

 

Solution:

Rep. Patti Fritz and Sen. Sandy Pappas have introduced the Minnesota Secure Choice Retirement Savings Act (HF 2419/SF 2078) to promote greater retirement savings for workers whose employers offer no retirement savings plan by

  • Minimizing barriers to saving
  • allowing for portability across employers
  • pooling investment assets under the management by the State Board of Investment, will allow for lower fees and access to financial products (such as insurance against loss and group annuities) that are too costly for an  individual investor to access.
  • Providing for stable income throughout retirement
  • Avoiding state liability after opening the plan for enrollment, including for the costs of administering the plan, managing the assets, and payments of benefits beyond the plan startup.
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MNsure Success Story

Chaleena Hogfoss, a single mom from St. Paul, says the Affordable Care Act has saved her from thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Up until August 2013, Chaleena was able to stay on her mom’s insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. Over the past three years on her mom’s insurance, Chaleena had three major medical emergencies – one was for her gall bladder and the other two were for reproductive issues. Each time, she was really ill, nearly dying at one point.
Chaleena says without the ACA extension to age 26, she would’ve been uninsured and would now be in medical debt for life.

Chaleena’s mom, Kelly Gibbons, has insurance through her employer, SEIU Local 284, where she works as a contract organizer.

Chaleena has currently been uninsured since August when she turned 26, which she says is a scary place to be in since she’s had so many health issues over the past few years. While she has worked at Taco Bell and other fast food restaurants, she currently is unemployed and looking for work. Recently she had another health incident which put her in the hospital. While there, an advisor at the hospital helped her complete the process to sign up for MNsure for both herself and her daughter. She qualifies for MNsure free of charge, since she is currently unemployed. Chaleena says she’s currently waiting back to hear the final word that her insurance is processed.

Chaleena and her daughter live with Chaleena’s mom, Kelly. She says even when she’s working fulltime, as a low-wage worker, she can’t afford to pay rent and the rest of her bills. Chaleena is thankful she can sign up herself and her daughter for insurance through MNsure, because she doesn’t know how she would be able to afford health insurance otherwise. With her medical history, she knows how important having insurance is for her family.

 

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, 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 approximately 30,000 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 four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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SEIU Leaders Congratulate Council Member Glidden on Bush Fellowship, Call on City Council to Address Racial Inequities

Minneapolis, Minn. – Members and leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in the Twin Cities are pleased to hear that Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden has been selected as a Bush Fellow for 2013. The news comes as a new crop of city councilors prepare to take office, after Minneapolis voters elected a historically young and racially diverse set of representatives.

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Minneapolis City Councilor, Elizabeth Glidden

“Our members are keenly aware of the racial disparities that divide our city,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “We see those disparities in employment, wages, and housing throughout Minneapolis. They supported Council Member Glidden in her reelection bid because they know her commitment to addressing these racial disparities. We’re proud to see the Bush Fellowship Program recognize her for that commitment as well.”

“We are excited for this unique opportunity for the Minneapolis City Council,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “This fellowship will allow the entire city council to address each issue through a race equity lens so we can work together to achieve a fairer, more equitable city. Council Member Glidden has proven her leadership when it comes to bringing the whole community together to find solutions to reducing disparities. We congratulate her on this continued commitment.”

“It’s encouraging to see Council Member Glidden and the Minneapolis City Council taking such a strong, proactive stance on implementing a race equity agenda,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “Our members who work in the Minneapolis public schools see the impact of the achievement gap day after day. Those gaps extend far beyond the classroom walls, and we are heartened by the investment from the Bush Foundation in the City of Minneapolis.”

 

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, 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 approximately 30,000 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 four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Community Members Protest Poverty Wages, Stand in Solidarity as Fast Food Workers Strike Across the Country

Rep. Keith Ellison voices support for low-wage workers

Minneapolis, Minn. – On Thursday, December 5 at noon, community members from across Minnesota will gather at a Minneapolis McDonald’s to protest poverty wages and call on Minnesota to raise the wage. As thousands of fast food workers go on strike in more than 100 locations across the country, here in Minnesota, community and labor groups will join faith leaders as they call for an end to publicly subsidizing large fast food corporations.

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Rep. Keith Ellison released a statement in support of the striking workers nationally and applauded the Minnesota community for standing up in support of them.

“In the richest country in the world, no one working full-time should be living in poverty,” Rep. Ellison said. “The movement against poverty wages gets stronger each time a working American bravely stands up. I stand with the workers walking off the job today because too many people working at fast-food restaurants are barely able to put food on their own tables.”

More than half of all fast food workers make so little they are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. When tax dollars are used to subsidize large, profitable corporations, other publicly funded resources are shortchanged, including our public schools. Low-wage workers who led the charge against poverty wages last week by participating in retail strikes and public marches will join community members in calling for higher wages in Minnesota.

Protests in Minneapolis and Cambridge will echo similar protests across the country.

WHAT: Protest to End Poverty Wages at McDonald’s
WHEN: Thursday, December 5Noon
WHERE: McDonald’s1440 Stinson Blvd

Minneapolis, MN 55413

WHO: Anytrea Baker – SEIU Local 284 member, North Minneapolis ParentIsaiah Campbell – SEIU Local 284 member, former fast food worker

Rev. Grant Stevensen – Twin Cities Faith Leader

Andrea Williams – OUR Walmart member store #5625

 

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Minnesotans for a Fair Economy

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is a coalition of labor, community and faith organizations that are fighting for an economy that works for all of us.

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SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo Among Those Arrested for Civil Disobedience at the U.S. Capitol, Demanding Immigration Reform with a Path to Citizenship in 2013

Following the Camino Americano: March for Immigration Reform, Morillo joins Rep. Ellison, other members of Congress and hundreds in civil disobedience action at Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the rally at the National Mall where tens of thousands gathered, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leaders were among nearly 200 local and national leaders, immigrants, civil rights and faith leaders arrested for engaging in acts of civil disobedience at the U.S. Capitol today to demand that House Republican leaders pass commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship in 2013.

Arrested were Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU Vice President and SEIU Maryland-DC State Council President; Terry Cavanagh, SEIU Maryland-DC State Council Executive Director; Javier Morillo, SEIU Local 26 President; Sylvia Ruiz, SEIU Immigrant Justice Campaign Director; Natalia Salgado, SEIU New York State Council Deputy Director and Estela Vasquez, SEIU 1199 Executive Vice President.

“Two hundred men and women have made a serious decision to cross the line to make it undeniably clear to Speaker Boehner and his colleagues in leadership that we are not tired, we are not shutting up and by no means will we stop demanding a commonsense solution to our dysfunctional immigration system,” Morillo said. “Today’s events should serve as a rude awakening to Mr. Boehner—he can either do what’s right for America or deal with the weight of the public’s unflinching pressure.”

Also among the arrestees were U.S. Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), John Lewis (D-GA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Al Green (D-TX).

“Today I saw and heard the hope, the frustrations, the determination of the American people – as we have been seeing and hearing for years – who want the immigrant community to walk the road to citizenship and participate fully in our democracy,” said Contreras, an immigrant who fled a bloody civil war in El Salvador at age 13. “The American Dream has been a reality for me, and I stand unequivocally in solidarity with them.”

Vasquez added, “I am an immigrant. I am one of many who represent a community that contributes to our nation’s economy, society and democracy. Yet our immigration system stands in our way. If my act of civil disobedience says anything about what we’re doing today, it’s that the time for immigration reform is now.”

“Speaker Boehner can’t deny it; the bipartisan support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship is right in front of him,” affirmed Sylvia Ruiz, Director of SEIU’s immigration campaign. “The choice is easy: stand with the American public by calling a vote for the immigration bill that’s already waiting on the table. Otherwise, we will continue calling, marching voting and boldly acting until we win reform.”

Following mass mobilizations in over 160 cities, today’s event is one of many planned in October to urge a congressional vote and passage of immigration reform with a path to citizenship before the end of this year. The movement’s growing strength and support throughout the country stands in sharp contrast to the federal government shutdown.

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Thousands of Minnesotans March to Call Congress to Pass Immigration Reform

Leaders from across the political spectrum rally as part of national day of Dignity and Respect

Minneapolis, Minn. – Leaders from Minnesota’s business, faith, labor, education, law enforcement, and immigrant communities staged a massive march on Saturday to urge the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Non-traditional allies ranging from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO gathered at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis for an interfaith prayer service and marched to the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza. The march was one of over 100 events scheduled nationwide to pressure members of Congress to pass reform that strengthens our economy, preserves the unity of families, and protects the rights of workers.

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The event was emceed by SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo, who urged the House to take action on immigration this year. SEIU was one of dozens of Minnesota organizations who participated in organizing the event.

Lutheran Rev. Paul Erikson, who serves Rep. John Kline’s second district, spoke on the urgent need for House members to pass reform in 2013: “We have a rare and unique opportunity to move beyond a shadow economy built on fear into a free and just society that releases the creative potential of all who live and work and study here.” Recent polling reported that 77 percent of voters in Rep. Kline’s district want to see action on immigration reform this year— including 66 percent of second district Republicans who support the Senate’s immigration legislation.

The Senate passed a historic immigration reform bill in June with bipartisan support; but now, the bill has stalled in the House of Representatives, despite overwhelming support from Americans to pass immigration reform this year.

“Civil war drove my family from our home in Liberia when I was 4 years old. Coming to this country at such a young age I’ve considered Minnesota to be my home,” said DREAMer Abena Abraham, “Today I remain on a legal, but temporary, status with no chance to ever become a permanent resident or citizen of the country I call home. How could I be sent back to a country I didn’t know anything about and, most importantly, how could I live away from my sister, who is a U.S. citizen?”

“Today Minnesotans from all walks of life put aside their differences to fix our broken immigration system,” said Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota Executive Director John Keller, “Now it is time for congress to do the same and update a system that separates families and fails to meet the needs of our modern economy.”

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, 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 approximately 30,000 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 four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Celebrates 80 Years of History, Looks to the Future for Healthcare Workers in Minnesota

Anniversary celebration brings International President to Minnesota, where she started her career

Minneapolis, Minn. – Friday healthcare workers from across Minnesota came together to celebrate 80 years of improving people’s lives, while welcoming in a new wave of workers. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota is celebrating its 80th anniversary this weekend, bringing in leaders from across the state and country to honor the oldest healthcare union in America.

“Eighty years ago, the people who cleaned the hospitals, mended the linens and cared for patients were mostly women and people of color – the work they did was not seen as real work. When Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in the 1930s, they left these workers out of the law,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

“But eighty years ago, something special happened here in the Twin Cities. These workers – women, many of them women of color – joined together to fight against low pay, lack of benefits, and most of all, the lack of respect that accompanied their work. They formed a union and won voluntary recognition to create the first healthcare workers’ union in America,” continued Gulley.

Mary Kay Henry, the International President of SEIU, joined in the weekend’s celebration. Henry, the first woman elected to lead SEIU, began her career as a union organizer with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

During her visit, Henry welcomed the personal care attendants (PCAs) and other home care workers who participated in the union assembly as they prepare to launch their organizing drive to form a union with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota later this fall.

“For too long this vital occupation, upon which the health and independence of millions depend, has been treated as marginal and casual work to be performed under poverty conditions,” said Henry. “This has been so, even as the occupation has become among the fastest growing and most vitally important within the American health care system.

“I welcome these workers’ efforts to make home care jobs into the good quality jobs that we need to get our economy moving again and to ensure that all Americans have access to the quality care they deserve.”

Home care workers spent part of the day laying out their vision for their union, which they shared during a brief press conference.

“The PCA program is a blessing when it works. But in my years as a PCA, I see that most of the time it’s not working very well because of the high turnover and the lack of training opportunities. I have met and talked with many other PCAs— the problems are affecting all of us,” said Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from St. Paul. “I want a union so that if my family ever needs to rely on a PCA in the future, there will be a lot of good, well trained, reliable people to draw from.”

“Through our union, we are going to make sure that our work is respected,” said Jane Conrad, a home care worker from Richmond. “We provide direct support services so people can stay in their homes, but we also need to earn a respectable wage so we can afford our homes.”

“I’ve worked hard as a disability advocate to ensure that everyone who needs self-directed support services has access to them,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a recipient of home care services. “But no matter how hard we fight, our services will always be in danger as long as our PCAs are expected to work for low wages with no benefits, little access to training and no voice to change those things. If my workers have a better quality of life, my family and I have a better quality of life.”

Dozens of PCAs and other direct support workers said they are continuing to talk with other workers across the state as they prepare to launch their statewide organizing drive later this fall. Self-directed home care workers in public programs recently won the right to form a union under state law.

“We are proud of the history we have of being leaders in the healthcare industry,” said Gulley. “Today, that history continues with the thousands of home care workers around the state who are working to form a union. Home care workers provide care for our seniors and people with disabilities. Yet today they have the same struggles the hospital workers who founded our unions faced 80 years ago – low pay, lack of benefits and lack of respect. We look forward to their inclusion in our great tradition of improving people’s lives.”

 

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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.

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