Issues

As White House Conference on Aging Begins, Minnesota Home Care Workers Traveling to Washington D.C to Voice Concerns on ‘Care Crisis’

Workers to Join National Discussion on Improving Long Term Care as New Report Highlights Growing Challenges

St. Paul – Just weeks after their historic first contract went into effect, two Minnesota home care workers will travel to Washington D.C. as part of a select group to discuss the best ways to improve long term care for the aging population across America with members of Congress, including Rep. Keith Ellison. Home care workers will be a part of the conversation around the White House Conference on Aging, speaking at the conference and engaging remotely in Washington and in select cities across the country. Studies show that low pay among home care workers, which averages $17,000 each year, leads to alarmingly high turnover, jeopardizes critical services and strains the home care system as more and more Americans rely on and choose home care instead of expensive long term care facilities. (more…)

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Celebrate First Day of Historic Union Contract

Contract wins include paid time off, higher wage floor, workplace protections, training fund and more for 27,000 workers represented

St. Paul, MN - After years of advocacy by home care workers and the people they support, today marks the first day of the historic home care union contract. After voting last year to form their union and join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota, home care workers reached an agreement with the state in January on this first contract for the 27,000 workers in the new bargaining unit. The agreement was ratified by union members and by the Minnesota Legislature as part of the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus budget bill.  (more…)

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Home Care Workers Celebrate Legislative Passage of Historic First Contract

Contract will go into effect on July 1st for 27,000 home care workers across the state, improving the lives of workers and the people they serve

St. Paul, MN – With the Governor’s signing of the Omnibus Health and Human Services bill today, leaders from SEIU Healthcare Minnesota celebrated the legislative passage of their historic first home care contract. The contract, the first new union contract with the state of Minnesota in decades, had bipartisan support in the Legislature, including stand-alone bill authors Sandy Pappas (SF1274), Rod Hamilton (HF2035), and Denny McNamara (HF1298). The contract will go into effect on July 1st and covers approximately 27,000 home care workers across the state. Key victories in the contract include workers receiving a paid time off benefit for the first time (five days of paid time off for full-time workers), raising the pay floor from $9 to $11 by 2016, a grievance and arbitration procedure to address wage theft, and a training fund to improve the quality of care they provide to people with disabilities and seniors. Workers championed the contract as a great step forward for both themselves and the people they serve.  (more…)

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SEIU Responds to Wage Proposal At MSP Airport

In response to the Metropolitan Airports Commission administrators proposing to raise wages for airport workers to $1 above the state’s minimum wage, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo issued the following statement: (more…)

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School Support Staff Comment on House Tax Omnibus Bill

St Paul, MN — Minnesota school support staff are calling on members of the House Tax Committee to vote against the tax omnibus bill released today, and instead invest in Minnesota’s students by increasing the targets for E-12 Education.

SEIU Local 284 members from across Minnesota issued the following statements on Monday: (more…)

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SEIU Members Applaud Gov. Dayton’s Focus on Working Families at State of the State

St. Paul, MN – Leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Minnesota applauded Governor Dayton following his 2015 State of the State speech tonight: (more…)

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New Report Highlights Impacts of High Poverty Rates in Minnesota’s East African Communities

Cites Raising Wages to $15 at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Largest Employer of Community, as Chance to Bring over $30 Million to Local Economy

Minneapolis, MN – A new report titled “Waiting for Takeoff,” released today by the Center for Popular Democracy, shined light on the disproportionately high poverty rate for the East African communities in Minnesota. It also highlighted the role the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport, as the largest employer of East African workers in the state, could take to address this crisis. (more…)

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SEIU Minnesota State Council call on Bloomington City Attorney to Drop Charges Against #BlackLivesMatter Activists

The following resolution was passed at the SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board meeting calling on Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against the 11 #BlackLivesMatter members who were part of the peaceful protest at the Mall of America on December 20, 2014:

 Having the right to take part in peaceful, non-violent protest is an essential part of any Democracy. Throughout history, many important victories have been won because brave women and men were willing to raise their voices and push back against the status quo. Any attempts to chill free speech will harm us all.

 At a time of staggering racial inequalities, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is using their voices to shine a light on structural racism in our society and the harm it causes to families: the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual damage to our sisters and brothers here in Minnesota and across the country.

 The decision by Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to prosecute protest organizers is wrong. We should be having thoughtful dialogue on how to close the painful racial inequalities that plague our communities, not spending time criminalizing peaceful protesters. We urge Sandra Johnson to do the right thing and drop the charges against these peaceful activists.

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U of MN Workers Attend Regent Vote at the Capitol and Call for Stronger Faculty and Community Voice

Faculty, Staff and Students engage Regent candidates in dialogue as they await the Legislature’s vote

St. Paul – Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Minnesota showed up at the Capitol on Wednesday evening to talk to candidates for the U of MN Board of Regents about the importance of soliciting input from faculty and students. As Regents awaited the outcomes of their elections inside the House chamber, University faculty, staff and students gathered in the hallway under a large print-out of the University’s mission statement and made themselves available to speak with candidates.  Faculty decided to invite Regents into dialogue after attending the Higher Education Committee hearing, which they felt revealed a troubling disconnect between Regent candidates and the people of the University they seek to govern.

UofM_LogoMany in attendance stressed the U’s land grant tradition and encouraged the Regents to defend this legacy from various threats. Harry Boyte, a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute, observed that the land grant tradition means that universities are “owned by the whole people” and embody the idea of democratic excellence. At the heart of this idea is “that a diverse mix of people from many different backgrounds interacting and cooperating in learning and discovery can achieve greatness that a focus on individual stars and ‘the best and the brightest’ never can accomplish.”

This land grant tradition, argued Professor Karen-Sue Taussig, means that the U is not a business but a public trust. “I have become increasingly concerned that the administration and regents treat the U like just any other business rather than recognizing the distinctive public role the university plays in creating the kind of thoughtful, well-rounded and engaged educated citizenry that is essential to maintaining a vibrant democracy.”

The need to broadly educate citizens and serve an increasingly diverse populace was another recurring theme at the event. Student Alexandra Vagac noted that the U has a responsibility to provide a quality education to students regardless of their degree path. “When private dollars flood public education we begin to see situations like that of the Chicano and Latino/a Studies Department at the U, which is consistently underfunded compared to other ‘more profitable’ departments.” Echoing this point, Professor Irene Duranczyk observed that by “closing departments that embrace diversity” and that prepare Minnesotans to thrive in an increasingly diverse global society, “we are taking another step backward, away from our mission.”

In carrying out their duties, Professor Naomi Scheman emphasized that Regents should understand that they “are entrusted with the care of the University, and fulfilling that trust requires knowing about the history and the culture of the U and the complexities of the relationships with it and with diverse communities around the state, and protecting those relationships from being defined in narrowly economic terms.”

Faculty expressed hope that the conversations at the Capitol were just the first of many conversations with Regents. “Right now it seems to me that Regents mostly sit in rooms with administrators and digest reports and Powerpoint presentations designed to present a pre-packaged narrative about what’s happening at the U,” said Professor Teri Caraway. “Regents will carry out their public responsibilities more effectively if they actively solicit input from faculty and students about what is going on at the U.”

Faculty organized this event as part of their ongoing work to build a faculty union to increase faculty and employee voice in decision-making at the University of Minnesota.

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U of MN Academics United is the faculty union forming to represent faculty and professional employees at the University of Minnesota. It is affiliated with SEIU Local 284, which represents over 7,000 education workers statewide, including the recently unionized adjunct faculty at Hamline University

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During National School Breakfast Week, St. Cloud School Staff Join Fight for Universal Breakfast Proposal

New Video Highlights Need for Statewide Legislation

St Paul, MN —  School cafeteria workers and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 released a video this week urging legislators to pass legislation to provide free breakfast for all elementary students.

As part of National School Breakfast Week (March 2nd- 6th), Westwood Elementary cafeteria workers in St. Cloud were featured in a new video to promote the proposal for expanded free school breakfast. Lori Smith, Jackie Gall and Jo Bouer are urging fellow union members, school support staff and members of the public to join the campaign to fight hunger in schools.

Hundreds of members of SEIU will be at the Capitol on Wednesday March 4th to fight for policies that help working families, including the universal breakfast proposal. This bill would increase support for Minnesota’s neediest students and improve academic performance. School support staff from across the state will also be talking to legislators about improving the equity in school funding.

“I’m more than a lunch lady. I’m a community advocate, a union leader and a concerned parent,” said Lori Smith, a cafeteria staff worker at Westwood Elementary School in St. Cloud. “Too many students in our community come to school hungry and I’m fighting to change that.”

Research by the University of Minnesota showed that children who go to school hungry are also twice as likely to need special counseling and to repeat a grade,  and three times more likely to be suspended from school. In addition, childhood food insecurity costs Minnesota about $642 million annually in direct costs as children experience illness when they are not adequately fed.

“We all know there is a direct negative impact on a child’s ability to learn who is in the classroom hungry. Yet it happens every day in every single school district in our state,” stated SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Carol Nieters. “It’s time Minnesota does the right thing to ensure that every child has what they need to succeed to start their school day. A free breakfast for all children in Minnesota is a good start.”

Governor Mark Dayton made an expansion of the breakfast program part of his budget proposal for K-3rd grade. Senate Bill 344 & House Bill 671 would expand free breakfast through elementary school. Currently, kindergarten students receive free breakfast at school.

 

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SEIU 284 represents 8700 bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, early learning employees, clerical staff and custodians throughout the state of Minnesota. 

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