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Issues

Home Care Workers and Clients Disappointed at Lack of Action on Home Care Crisis During Legislative Session, Vow to Mobilize “Care Voters” in November

Saint Paul, Minn—The 2018 legislative session ended without any new investments in home care work, despite high profile attention to a care crisis that is affecting seniors and people with disabilities across the state. The crisis was front-page news with stories highlighting the fact that there are over 8,000 vacancies in the state’s personal care attendant programs due to low wages and lack of benefits.

While disappointed about the lack of investment in care work, home care workers with SEIU did praise legislators from both parties for standing up to protect their union rights from those who attempted to weaken them this session.

“Minnesotans want a state where our loved ones can get the care they need and deserve in their own homes. Home care workers and our clients came to the Capitol throughout the session to make sure our elected officials understood the crisis facing families in every corner of the state,” said Dawn Burnfin, a mother and home care worker from Chisholm in Northern Minnesota and elected member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota executive board. “Make no mistake, inaction means more pain, frustration and heartache for families across Minnesota. This is wrong and we will mobilize home care workers to make sure legislators understand the need for investments in care between now and the November elections.”

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The advocacy by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members, seniors and people with disabilities generated bi-partisan support to raise wages, with bills being introduced in both the House and Senate. Money for a pay increase was included in Governor Dayton’s proposed budget. Despite broad support for the issue, the pay raises were not included in the final budget bill. This inaction has caused frustration for the thousands of families across the state personally affected by this growing crisis.

“While I’m extremely disappointed we didn’t win steps forward for our families around home care funding, it serves as a reminder about the importance of elections and getting people into office who share our values around the care and dignity of our families,” said Delores Flynn, a Union supporter and mother and caretaker of an adult son who needs 24-hour care to stay in his home. “I’m ready to work as hard as possible to make sure we have people in office who understand the challenges facing families like mine.”

Following session, Delores joined home care workers, clients, faith, labor and community organizations in launching a “Care Voter” effort for the 2018 election. The “Care Voter” initiative will seek to mobilize voters to educate candidates and fellow voters about ways the next legislature can support care givers and the people they care for. The “Care Voter” initiative will be a key part of SEIU’s member electoral program this fall and summer.

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SEIU Albert Lea Members Reach Agreement with Mayo

New contract ratified Monday following agreement reached after 2nd strike had been authorized

Albert Lea, Minn — After a contentious, multi-year fight, members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who work at the Albert Lea Mayo Hospital have reached an agreement with Mayo Clinic. The two sides reached a tentative agreement the week of May 7th for both groups of workers (general group and skilled maintenance) that have been without contracts for nearly two years.

rs_Albert_Lea_Mayo_HCMN_strikeAfter giving members time to look over the tentative agreement, a majority of SEIU members voted to approve the plan Monday. The agreement came following members authorizing a second strike in a vote in late April. With a possible second, longer strike looming, the two sides were able to reach an agreement that found both sides compromising at the May bargaining sessions.

Workers expressed pride in standing up for good jobs and quality rural healthcare, even as Mayo dug in on certain policy proposals that the group had hoped to stop.

“Being able to win really good pay raises and making sure our contract does not include a subcontracting clause for skilled maintenance jobs were big wins,” said Nate Johnson, Chief Engineer and 20-year Mayo employee. “We wish we had been able to get them to move on everything we wanted, but I’m incredibly proud that we stood up for what is right and won the positive changes that we did. We hope we showed other workers, both here in Albert Lea and across the state, that there is power in standing up for what is right for working families.”

The groups won pay increases ranging from 7.25% to 10% over the three years of the contract. While Mayo won the right to change four core benefits during the term of the contract, workers won a contract provision that those benefits will be offered to all full-time and part-time (.5 and over) employees during the term of the contract, an important win for members. The contract also included protections and support for workers who may have to transition to Austin, even as the union continues to oppose any reductions in staff or services in Albert Lea. It also preserved holiday pay, which was one of the driving issues behind the Dec. 22nd strike and Christmas lockout.

“We took a stand, against the odds, because we believed that the work we do in our community hospital is important for our families, our neighbors and our communities,” said Sheri Wichmann, who has worked in sterile processing for 18 years. “Going on strike and being locked out showed we firmly believed in our fight for good jobs and good healthcare here in Albert Lea. We remain committed to those values. While you always wish you had been able to win everything you set out for at the start, we are proud we were able to move Mayo on important issues facing our families and community.”

As part of the agreement, both sides agreed to drop NLRB charges against the other.

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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.

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Minnesota Custodian Wins National Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award, Honored at Ceremony in Washington D.C.

Award winner joined school staff from across the nation for ceremony on May 9th at Rayburn House Office Building

Burnsville, Minnesota  – Mark Glende, Head Custodian at Sioux Trail Elementary School, 22-year employee of ISD 191 Burnsville-Eagan- Savage School District and member of SEIU Local 284 was honored in Washington D.C. Wednesday as one of the 2018 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award winners. The award is being given to five individuals from across the country who are doing extraordinary and inspirational things in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.

Mark_Glende_191_rsMark was recognized for his proven track record of going above and beyond to make the school a safe, welcoming and enriching place for all the students. He has painted a world map on the playground, painted numbers and fractions on steps to help younger students learn math and even painted inspirational words on the gym walls in his effort to turn “dead space” into “learning spaces.” Mark even volunteered to shave his head for a student body fundraiser for Pennies for Patients.

“I’m very proud to win this award. I truly believe if we each leave things a little better than we find them, we can accomplish amazing things,” said Glende. “I am proud to be able to work every day to make that a reality for students in my community.”

Mark has worked hard to make the school a more energy efficient building, establishing the S.E.E. SQUAD, Schools for Energy Efficiency. For this project, he worked with student groups on things like turning off classroom lights when unoccupied and making sure blinds were down at the end of the day to keep the heat from escaping overnight. They found out that by turning off gym lights for just two hours a day the school could save an additional $500 per month.

Because of the work of Mark and others, Sioux Trail Elementary School became one of the first Minnesota schools to become an ENERGY STAR Leader Top Performer and in 2007 ranked as the second most energy efficient school in the Midwest.

“Mark is a classic example of school employees across Minnesota who go above and beyond every single day to make our schools safer and more enriching for our students,” said Keith Niemi, President of SEIU Local 284. “We are incredibly proud of Mark and the positive impact he is making on students, his school and the community. His whole SEIU Local 284 family are incredibly proud of this outstanding achievement.”

Another project Mark helped grow was the Enhanced Recycling and Organics Program (EROP). The focus was on recycling in the classrooms and recycling and organic separation in the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch. He taught a group of students the proper way to sort their lunch trays, and those students went on to teach their fellow students. That group of students gave up their recess time once a week to go classroom-to-classroom and talk trash, compost or recycle, and worked with Mark as Trash Talkers. Out of this Mark started the SMART (Sort More And Reduce Trash) program. Over the next couple years the school was able to reduce trash output from a four-yard dumpster picked up daily to a one-yard dumpster picked up once a week.

Mark’s work saw him appointed to his city’s newly formed Environmental & Sustainability Task Force in 2015. Mark was elected chairman by the task force members in the first year, and over the next 3 years the taskforce has been responsible for a 52% decrease in energy consumption in the city’s 5 municipal buildings.

In 2016, Mark got tired of seeing all the milk being thrown away that students didn’t drink at breakfast and lunch, so he came up with the One More Sip challenge. It took six weeks to establish a baseline of milk being poured down the drain, and then he started asking students to take one more sip before they went out to recess. From October to May the school increased milk consumption from 60% to over 90%.

Mark had the student council help him and he dubbed them his Moo Crew. They made posters to hang not only in the cafeteria but all over school. Now students celebrate two-sip Tuesday and Finish Your Milk Friday. They also came up with weekly toasts that always ended with “and here’s to the cows!”

The RISE award is given yearly by the National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU), a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees. The award highlights the individual contributions of school staff and recognizes the essential role that all education professionals play in shaping our public schools.

There are more than 2.8 million classified education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce.  They ensure students achieve at their highest levels. They keep students fed, emotionally and physically healthy and safe, engaged and connected to the larger school community, and provide instruction and support that leads to academic success.

Classified education support employees work in the following nine career families:

  • Child nutrition services
  • Clerical services
  • Custodial and maintenance services
  • Health and student services
  • Paraeducators
  • Security services
  • Skilled trades
  • Technical services
  • Transportation services

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The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU) is a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees, including clerical and administrative staff, custodians, food service workers, health and student services workers, paraeducators, technology services employees, transportation workers, and security and skilled trades staff.

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Mayo’s Christmas Lockout of Albert Lea Workers Deemed Illegal by Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board

Albert Lea, Minn – Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found merit to the Union’s charge that Mayo illegally locked out employees over Christmas. (ruling attached) The union based its charge about the Mayo Albert Lea Christmas Lockout on the fact that, despite saying they were locking out over 80 workers because they needed to ‘honor contracts’ for replacement workers, Mayo in fact hired only a handful of workers – most of whom quit before the week was over. This left large chunks of essential work undone while Mayo locked out dedicated employees with decades of experience following the group’s 1-day strike, the first in the history of Mayo. The Christmas Lockout was the first time that healthcare workers had been locked out at Mayo and in Minnesota’s history. (more…)

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Mayo Albert Lea Service Workers Vote to Authorize 1-Day Strike

As Mayo continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith, workers vote overwhelmingly to send message that Mayo needs to treat workers fairly

Albert Lea, Minn — Mayo Albert Lea service workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a 1-day strike if Mayo continues to refuse to bargain in good faith. The group, which includes 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, provide essential services to community members who utilize the hospital. Over 92% of those voting approved the strike authorization, meaning a strike could be called at any point going forward with a 10-day notice. No strike date was set at the vote.

Mayo_clinic_stock_3_rsThe workers, many of whom have decades of experience, are simply asking for Mayo to bargain in good faith, something they have refused to do in the past few months. Currently Mayo is demanding a race-to-the-bottom clause that would allow them to take benefits away from employees at any time, regardless of the contract, something that is a non-starter for union workers. Despite recent news that 13 Mayo employees make over $1 million per year, executives are asking Mayo workers to take a step backwards so they can increase the hospital’s bottom line.

In response to Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith, Heather Olson, who has worked for 12 years as a housekeeper at Mayo, shared why people are willing to take this step.

“It used to feel like the focus was about our patients and community, and not just about money, but over the last few years that has changed. I used to be proud to tell people where I work, and would never have imagined voting for a strike, but for me, I voted yes to strike because it feels as if there is no other options. They want to take away everything and aren’t willing to show us we have value or meet us halfway,” said Olson. “It is hard to feel valued when they aren’t budging on issues that matter so much to families in Albert Lea. I’ve gone to negotiations and it is ridiculous seeing how they refuse to move an inch or meet us halfway. It is hard to understand and really feels like we have little to no value at all. It is definitely taking a a toll on morale. I hope this will help get them to understand that patients, employees and the community matter.”

Justin Yost, who has worked at Mayor for 14 years in the utilities department, echoed the sentiment of feeling like Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith has led to this vote.

“It seems like Mayo is cutting everything they can to save themselves a nickel. Doing nothing as this happens to the workers in our unit with hundreds of years experience at our community hospital just isn’t an option,” said Yost. “I voted yes to authorize the strike because when you work for a big healthcare corporation, you shouldn’t have to worry about not having or being able to afford healthcare. That could be a reality if Mayo refuses to budge on their proposal to be able to take away healthcare from employees at any time. I hope they will come back to the table and bargain in good faith.”

Service workers continue to push for Mayo to come to the bargaining table, negotiate in good faith, and do what is best for the entire Albert Lea community.

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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 Minnesota State Council Calls on Senator Schoen & Representative Cornish to Resign

Saint Paul — The SEIU Minnesota State Council voted Monday at the November Executive Board meeting to call for the immediate resignations of Senator Dan Schoen and Representative Tony Cornish following news of sexual harassment at the State Capitol. The State Council released the following statement:

23BCornish_54Schoen_bw_rs“The Labor Movement is built on the premise of dignity and equality for all working people, something that our society is still painfully far from achieving. Our union is made up of hospital workers, school staff, janitors, home care workers, security officers and more, with a membership that is predominantly female. Our members know that a toxic, unsafe work environment is still the reality for too many working people. The daily injustices are especially pronounced for women and people of color, and are perpetrated and protected by systems of power that we are happy to see being increasingly challenged and dismantled. Harassment is a pervasive problem throughout our country, including both political parties and even the labor movement itself.

“The news of sexual harassment at the Capitol, and specific instances of inappropriate behavior from Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish, highlight the toxic and dangerous environment facing women in workplaces all over the state of Minnesota. We can and should hold elected officials to the highest possible standards, and by all accounts Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish have failed that test. We call on Senator Schoen and Representative Cornish to resign from their positions. We also join in calls for a systematic plan to address harassment at the Capitol — and all workplaces — that has allowed for this kind of behavior to become so engrained.”

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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 60,000 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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Cashiers at Two Mayo Hospitals Vote Unanimously to Join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

Rochester, Minn — A group of Mayo cashiers at Saint Mary’s and Methodist employed by Morrison voted unanimously to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The vote was counted Tuesday evening, with nearly 90% of the eligible workers casting ballots. All of the votes were to join the union. The unanimous victory was the third election of Morrison employees to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota within the last year.

The cashiers joined a wave of workers at Mayo hospitals who have joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following the controversial decision last year to outsource hundreds of longtime employees to Morrison, a move that was met with a pushback by workers, patients and the entire Rochester community. Since that time non-union workers have seen the power that comes with joining together to have a unified voice in the workplace.

Mayo_Clinic2_rsIda Bush, a Morrison employee who has worked at Mayo as a cashier for 23 years, shared why her group became the latest to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following Mayo’s outsourcing move last year.

“I felt that we needed a voice at work, and I want the same opportunities that people in the union have had,” said Bush. “We all deserve to be treated fairly!”

Workers in the other new SEIU bargaining units have seen big gains and stronger workplace protections since joining the union. The new bargaining unit of 26 cashiers will send requests for bargaining dates once the election is officially certified.

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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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U of M Faculty Announce New Direction for Organizing Campaign

Faculty choose to avoid legal battle that would see U of MN spending even more taxpayer money

Minneapolis– Minnesota Academics United (MNAU) will not pursue an appeal of the Minnesota Court of Appeals September 5, 2017 ruling, which overturned the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) determination that non-tenure-track (NTT) and term/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty share a community of interest as employees. MNAU rejects the division of faculty resulting from this ruling and is pulling the union election for those faculty in Unit 8, the so-called instructional unit. Instead, MNAU is moving forward as one united faculty by forming a workers’ association.

umn_building_rs“Faculty are organizing for better teaching conditions for all faculty and better learning conditions for all students,” said Mary Pogatshnik, Senior Teaching Specialist in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  “The university administration has opposed its own employees by spending hundreds of thousands of public dollars to miscatagorize instructional faculty at the state labor bureau and Court of Appeals.”

T/TT and NTT faculty filed for an election in January 2016 to vote as a unified community of interest and form one union on the Twin Cities campus. The U of M’s central administration objected, delaying the vote for several months by attempting to keep faculty divided. BMS held in-depth hearings to determine the proper bargaining unit for NTT positions, which make up approximately 40% of instructional faculty, and determined that NTT positions should be placed in the same bargaining unit as T/TT faculty.

“Contingent and tenure-line faculty are resolved to continue to organize as a unified group according to how education actually takes place in the University, rather than according to the priorities and norms set by economic advantages,” said Yuichiro Onishi, Associate Professor, Department of African American & Studies/Program in Asian American Studies. “This struggle of academic labor to defend and ultimately expand a truly public domain of public education is a key political challenge of our time.”

The workers’ association will bring together non-tenure-track and term/tenure-track faculty, something that term/tenure-track faculty highlighted as an exciting development in the new model.

“T/TT faculty in MNAU refuse to pursue unionization without the inclusion of their NTT colleagues. Instead, MNAU faculty remain committed to pursuing improved working and learning conditions for all students, faculty, and campus workers.” said Eric Van Wyk, Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department.

“In order to continue working as a united faculty, MNAU chooses to form a workers’ association. A workers’ association is a voluntary, dues-paying organization open to faculty members at the University of Minnesota.” said Anna Kurhajec, a Lecturer in the Department of American Studies. “Partly a response to the overwhelming attacks on organized labor in the US, workers’ associations are revitalizing the labor movement and achieving impressive victories, including at other universities. CTUL, a worker center right here in Minneapolis, for example, has won incredible gains by pushing for and winning a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, guaranteed sick leave in Minneapolis and St. Paul that will help over 150,000 families, and millions in back wages that had been stolen from workers through wage theft. We are excited to now be on the leading edge of labor instead of at the mercy of legal vagaries.”

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Faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus are coming together to form a union for a stronger voice in shaping our University’s direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.

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Morrison Food Service Workers at Mayo Charter House Announce Vote to Join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

Latest group of food service workers to organize following Mayo’s outsourcing move announce resounding union election victory at Labor Day Picnic
Rochester, Minn — Food service workers employed by Morrison at the Mayo Charter House have voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The workers voted by a 2-1 margin to join the union. Workers announced their victory at the Rochester Labor Day picnic Monday that was hosted by CURE and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The bargaining unit consists of 84 food service workers. 
 
Union_Family_rsFood service workers who led the campaign to win their union released the following statements following the vote.
Michael Roeder:
 
“In the recent years, we’ve all witnessed the rise in cost of living here in Rochester. However, with this rise should come an equally similar increase in wages, but that hasn’t been the case. People not only at the Charter House but all over the city are experiencing difficulty paying their bills because there is a disproportionate ratio of wages to the average cost of living. Because we formed our union, we are ready to join the fight to fix this problem,” said Roeder. “Even amidst management’s tactics to dissuade us from forming a union , low-balling offers and bringing in union-busters, we persevered because we all ignored their distractions. I am so glad we voted so overwhelmingly to join together and become members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.”
 
Cheryl Ouellette:
“In order for Charter House to be the preferred place to live, it first has to be the preferred place to work. We knew that the best way to make that happen after everything that has gone over the last year was to join together in the union,” said Ouellette. “I am so happy we now have a collective voice to make sure we can fight for the best for both workers and the community.”
Rhoda Mghenyi:
“Coming together in the union will unite us and lead us to real action. Our jobs will be more meaningful as we strive to make a better living and support for our families. We now have a voice to make changes at Charter which will be a better facility, if not the best campus at Mayo,” said Mghenyi. “We still have a lot of work to do, however we must remain focused on our goals. By coming together, we will enter a journey of greatness. We are stronger together and we will achieve more. Go Union!”
Bargaining dates will be set in the coming weeks.
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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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Following 3M CEO Stepping Down From Presidential Panel, SEIU Calls on Dr. Noseworthy and Mayo to Clarify “Advisory” Role to President Trump

Rochester, Minn — Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, released the following statement calling on Dr. Noseworthy and Mayo Clinic to make clear and public all ties to President Trump following 3M CEO Inge Thulin resigning from the Presidential Manufacturing Panel yesterday.

“CEOs from multiple corporations have made clear where they stand in regard to working with President Trump over the last few days following the horrific events in Charlottesville and the subsequent fallout. Employees of Mayo and community members across Southern Minnesota deserve to know the current status of Mayo CEO Dr. Noseworthy’s “advisory” role to the President. Dr. Noseworthy has made clear that he ‘advised’ President Trump and met with him in the months since his election. There was a deafening silence from Mayo following the Muslim ban, something that directly impacted staff, patients and community members. The power and influence Mayo has in Southern Minnesota means that they cannot be silent in the face of current events. Mayo workers and Southern Minnesota community members deserve to know the full nature and scope of Dr. Noseworthy’s advisory roles and relationship with President Trump.”

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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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