Issues

Minneapolis City Council Introduce New Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance

Workers, council members and Mayor praise step towards addressing wage theft in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Friday morning the Minneapolis City Council introduced a new wage theft prevention ordinance. The law will ensure workers in the city are protected from the growing wage theft crisis, especially with the $15 minimum wage and earned sick and safe time passed over the last two years in Minneapolis.

CTUL_End_Wage_Theft_Now_rsAfter the Council introduction, workers and supporters shared why it is so important to take this action at a press conference at City Hall.

Mya Bradford, a ROC-MN member and former Bonchon Minneapolis Server, shared her story of facing wage theft in Minneapolis. 

“I experienced wage theft here in Minneapolis as a server at Bonchon in Uptown. It affected my life, my housing, and my being able to support my son. We had to fight publicly to be paid back stolen wages and are still owed money. Wage theft is just another example of the upper hand stealing from workers. This new ordinance will help protect moms like me.”
 
Juana Cinto, a member of CTUL who was a daycare worker in Minneapolis, shared her story of experiencing wage theft in Minneapolis and the challenges it caused her family. 
 
“I went through wage theft in Minneapolis when working at a daycare. My boss had problems in giving me payments constantly, including giving me checks without funds. The last days I worked he did not pay me. I would call him and he never answered. With time passing, other coworkers went with me to CTUL and demanded our wages. To this day we have never recovered our money. It has affected us a lot. I wasn’t able to help my mom, who was really sick at the time. It made me angry to not be paid for my work. I think it is time we raise our voices, which is why we are here demanding leaders in Minneapolis take action and pass this anti-wage theft law. Let’s make sure this type of abuse doesn’t happen to any more families.”
 
Council Member Linea Palmisano, one of the co-authors of the ordinance, spoke about the scope of this problem facing workers in Minneapolis.
 
“Wage theft is an issue that’s inherently hard to track because it is all complaint-based, and we know that workers are very often fearful of retaliation if they do so, but we know that this is a serious problem in Minneapolis. Between 2005-2014, the United States Department of Labor found over 5,500 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act by employers in Minneapolis, totaling over $2.7 million in unpaid wages. And that is probably just a drop in the bucket.”
 
Council Member Steve Fletcher, another of the co-authors of the ordinance, shared how the new law will relate to the recently passed statewide anti-wage theft law.
“We are thrilled that the legislature passed a pretty comprehensive package of policy changes in the final budget deal, and additional funding for enforcement in the Department of Labor and Industry. Now we want to join that team effort as a City. This ordinance will complement state law by adding wage theft prevention to our existing labor standards, allowing our Civil Rights staff to enforce violations of that law and a small set of additional protections that we are including in our ordinance.With the work of the Workplace Advisory Committee, and everyone we’ve heard from today, this effort has already had broad engagement from workers, unions, small and large businesses, and more, and that engagement will now continue as this ordinance progresses.”
 
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, also a co-author of the ordinance, shared how the process to get this ordinance passed came to be and why it is so important.
 
“Over the last 18 months, the Workplace Advisory Committee has worked to develop a comprehensive wage theft prevention agenda to complement our minimum wage and earned sick and safe time policies. With this ordinance, Minneapolis Civil Rights staff will be able to field reports of violations that may include multiple components: a lack of paid sick time, a minimum wage violation, and/or wage theft. So it just makes sense for us to pass this ordinance and add that capability.”
 
Mayor Jacob Frey joined the press conference and shared the importance of this ordinance in addressing racial inequalities in the city of Minneapolis. 
 
“Prior to our passage of our minimum wage ordinance, 41 percent of all black workers and 54 percent of all Latino workers in Minneapolis earned less than $15 per hour. That’s compared with just 17 percent of white workers. It’s great that workers are getting a raise. But everyone needs to know — and understand — that these workers are entitled to that raise and to sick leave. And they should know that the City has their back when they assert those rights. It’s never enough to pass a law, pat yourself on the back, and declare victory. Indeed, the quickest way to erode trust in government is to pass laws that you don’t enforce.”

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STRIKE: Elk River Guardian Angels Nursing Homes Workers Begin Two-Day ULP Strike

Workers make clear: “We are doing this for our residents”

ELK RIVER — Nursing home workers at Guardian Angels in Elk River began their two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike at 6 a.m. this morning. The group of over 100 workers, who do housekeeping, laundry, dietary, health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation and maintenance, are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The workers will be joined by community supporters on a picket line from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday on the public sidewalk outside of the facility (400 Evans Ave NW, Elk River). The workers plan to return to work starting on Saturday morning.

Elk_River_Guardian_Angel_Strike_rs_2Avis Lage, who works as a dietary aide at Guardian Angels, shared why she is out on strike to win a better facility for residents and staff.

“We are on strike for our residents, our jobs and our whole community. We are proud that our work has made Guardian Angels a 5-star facility, but we are disappointed that management doesn’t seem willing to listen to us and show their longtime staff the respect we have earned. We are fighting for safe staffing levels and pay that rewards the amazing work done every day in our facility so that 5-star work can continue into the future,” said Lage, who has worked at the facility for seven years.

Leading up to the strike, the group heard strong support from community and residents who understand that it is the staff’s hard work that has made the facility so well respected.

“We’re so thankful for the support we’ve already received and we want everyone to know we won’t stop fighting until management finally understands that it is the people who work here 24 hours a day that make this facility so great. It’s time they show that they value us more than padding the bottom line,” continued Lage. “We didn’t want to get to this point, but we hope those at the top finally get the message that the staff aren’t disposable and that if you don’t respect and invest in the people who’ve given decades of service to Guardian Angels, we could lose what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We hope they’ll hear our voices.”

A recent news article noted that according to 2017 tax documents Guardian Angels made $1,806,640 in profit, with President and CEO Daniel C. Dixon being paid $226,658.

The group voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike earlier this month after their employer spent months refusing to make an offer that respects their dedicated workforce. The two sides have held over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands for safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and investment in dedicated staff so they can continue to make Guardian Angels a 5-star facility.

Jody Winter is CNA 30-year employee in the laundry department who spoke out about why she was out on strike.

“As someone who has worked at Guardian Angels for 30 years, I care deeply about our residents and my co-workers. It’s because I want what is best for Guardian Angels that I am taking part in this strike. We are a 5-Star facility because of the work that happens in our building, but when we have sat down over 10 times with management to try and reach an agreement on a contract, they don’t seem to want to recognize or respect the work so many of us put in,” said Winter. “The things we want — safe staffing levels, pay that honors the staff who have dedicated decades to this facility, and respect for our collective voice — are common sense requests and would be good for everyone. We had hoped that Guardian Angels management would do what is right and work with us, but they won’t budge and seem more concerned with their bottom line than listening to their staff. We wish we weren’t in this situation, but when you are fighting for what is right sometimes you have to make a stand. This strike is our stand for our residents, our families and our whole community.”

With the employer refusing to bargain in good faith, there are no new bargaining dates set.

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

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STRIKE DATE ANNOUNCEMENT: Elk River Nursing Home Workers Set Strike Dates

Workers at Guardian Angels to hold two-day ULP strike June 6th & 7th

ELK RIVER— Nursing home workers employed by Guardian Angels in Elk River filed their official 10-day notice ahead of Memorial Day weekend and have announced dates for a two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike on Thursday, June 6th and Friday, June 7th. The group of over 100 workers, who do housekeeping, laundry, dietary, health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation and maintenance, are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

Elk_River_Nursing_rsThe group voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike earlier this month after their employer spent months refusing to make an offer that respects their dedicated workforce. The two sides have held over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands for safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and investment in dedicated staff so they can continue to make Guardian Angels a Five Star facility.

Nicole Mellum, who has worked Guardian Angels for nearly 14 years as a nursing assistant and TMA, highlighted why the group will be taking this step next week to stand up for what is right for patients, staff and the whole Elk River community.

“I voted to go on strike, and will be out on the picket line next Thursday, because as a longtime employee I see how critical it is we stand up for our residents, ourselves and our whole community. I’ve worked at Guardian Angels for 14 years and am proud of the work my co-workers and I have done to make this a Five Star facility for our residents. But we are tired of our work not being respected and our experience being pushed aside. We want this facility to not just be a Five Star facility now, but in the future. But with the way longtime staff are being treated, and the way management seems unwilling to negotiate a fair contract with us, we are worried about that being the case. What we are asking for — safe staffing levels, pay & benefits that respect our tenure, respect for our ability to work with our union — are things that would help residents and staff. It is frustrating management continue to refuse to meet in the middle on what is best for our whole community. We care deeply about our residents, which is why we are willing to go on strike next week to fight for their future and ours.”

Pickets will take place on the public sidewalk outside of the facility both days and the community are invited to join.

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

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Changes to Nursing Home Reimbursement In Gov. Walz’s Budget Raise Questions For Nursing Home Workers

SAINT PAUL—In response to the budget released today by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan that proposes cuts for some Minnesota nursing homes, St. Charles nursing home worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Jeanne Schulz released the following statement.

 

MN Capitol Dome“Minnesotans are caring and compassionate. We believe that our family, friends and neighbors living in nursing homes like the one where I work — no matter their race, income or zip code — should be able to have what they need to live full and happy lives. Seeing a proposed cut for nursing homes in the budget, without clarity on who that cut will effect, is worrisome to those of us who do this critical work every day.

 

“We understand that the proposal says cuts would be focused on reining in ballooning costs for out-of-state management and executives, and we share a strong concern about the wave of acquisitions of Minnesota nursing homes by out-of-state companies in recent months and the impact those changes have had on nursing residents and workers. But we know that the line-item being targeted for cuts, called “other operating costs,” includes many hard-working frontline staff, not just management and administration. Members like me whose main job is to cook the food, clean the building, take out the trash, or work in the laundry are considered “other operating costs” simply because we are not doing the direct resident care a nursing assistant or nurse performs. And many of us are already making $3-$5/hour less than our nursing-assistant coworkers because the reimbursement reform passed by state lawmakers in 2015 focused only on the workers involved in direct care.  

 

“We made important progress in 2015 by increasing nursing home funding all across Minnesota, but we still have a ways to go to make sure every nursing home is a world-class facility for residents and staff. A good reimbursement system needs to invest in workers, not out-of-state administrators. As this proposal moves forward we hope to get some important questions answered, to make sure the state is cutting out real waste and unnecessary expenses, not taking from the front-line employees who keep our buildings clean and our seniors fed. The lives of thousands of Minnesotans across our state depend on it.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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Minnesotans Praise Gov. Walz’s Budget that Protects and Expands Affordable Health Care

St. Paul—Today, Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan released their two year budget proposal which repeals the sunset of the 27 year old health care provider tax—protecting health care for one million Minnesotans—and lays the groundwork to expand affordable health care throughout the state with ONECare.

Thank_You_Walz_FlanaganTakeAction Minnesota, SEIU, Land Stewardship Project, and ISAIAH released the following statement:

“As Minnesotans, we care about each other. When one person can’t afford or access the health care they need, it hurts all of us. We’re strongest when no one is left behind, and when our health care centers people.

This last election saw thousands of conversations about healthcare and what we need to make sure our state moves forward. Our elected officials are responsible for making health care work for everyone, no exception. It’s clear that Governor Walz has heard the frustration and heartbreak over health care in every corner of the state and is taking action with his first budget to address these challenges. His budget protects health care for one million Minnesotans and lays the groundwork to expand affordable health care, all without giving handouts to insurance companies. Minnesotans want bold action on health care and Gov. Walz is leading the way.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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Red Wing Care Center Nursing Home Operator Leaves Town, Refuses to Pay Wages & Benefits for Hundreds of Employees

Red Wing, Minn — Employees of the Red Wing Care Center Nursing Home found out late last week, after working a full pay period, that their employer Welcov Healthcare had filed for bankruptcy and refused to pay for work they had done. The payroll owed by Welcov was for over $200,000, and that doesn’t even take into account vacation and sick time that these workers may lose.

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Jamie Gulley, the President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the Union that represents many of the employees, shared the frustration felt by the workers, the residents and all Minnesotans impacted by the greed from companies like Welcov as our state continues to face a care crisis caused by lack of funding and support for nursing homes.

“It is frustrating that another employer is treating the people who care for our families this way. This is the latest case of Minnesota’s growing wage theft crisis and also a clear example of why we have a care crisis, where families struggle to find the care they want and deserve,” said Gulley. “Would you do this critical, important, incredibly hard work if you may not be paid for your hours or if you could lose your accrued sick and vacation benefits? It’s time that our state takes this issue seriously, both addressing the actions of bad actors and proactively making sure these shady business practices are stopped once and for all.”

In recent months Welcov Healthcare had signed an agreement to transition operations of the nursing home to a new operator effective last week, and as part of the transition agreement they were responsible for the payroll through last week and were to transition all accrued benefits (sick leave and vacation time) to the new operator upon transition. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Just before the end of the pay period, Welcov told the new operator they were declaring bankruptcy and did not pay the wages it owed. Now, employees and the residents they care for are being punished for Welcov’s greed. Just last month the Star Tribune reported that “Welcov’s owners plan to start a new business that will focus on a handful of healthcare facilities in Wyoming.”

This is just the latest example of Nursing Home operators bailing on employees and Minnesota communities. In 2015 Deseret Health Group in Owatonna went bankrupt, forcing the state to put them in receivership and put Volunteers of America in charge until they could place all the residents in other nursing homes, eventually resulting in the nursing home closing. It was later discovered the employer was deducting insurance premiums from workers checks and not submitting to the insurance company. Extendicare (Robbinsdale and Texas Terrace facilities) went bankrupt and the courts put another management company in charge, with one (Fortis) going bankrupt as well. Workers at two facilities lost their sick pay.

The workers and their Union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, have notified the AG’s office and are preparing to take any and all legal action possible to ensure Welcov pays workers what they are owed.

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

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SEIU MN State Council 2019 Legislative Priorities and Agenda

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Priorities
  • Paid Family & Medical Leave
  • Preventing Wage Theft
  • Restore the Vote
  • Earned Sick and Safe Time
  • Protecting State Revenue
    • Conform to Federal Deemed Repatriation and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI) Tax Provisions
    • Repeal 2017 Tax Giveaways to Tobacco and Large Commercial Properties and Estates
    • Oppose Permanent Tax Cuts and Any Tax Cuts for the Wealthy and Corporations
    • Oppose Dedicating Existing General Fund Revenue to Road Construction
Agenda
  • Home care workers’ contract ratification and funding for $15 home care worker minimum wage and statewide training/orientation
  • Unemployment Insurance for School Support Staff
  • Drivers Licenses (and vehicle ownership) for All
  • Progressive Health Care Proposal
    • MinnesotaCare Buy-in
    • Premium Support (Reinsurance)
    • Provider Tax Sunset Repeal
  • Minnesota Miracle 2.0
    • Per Pupil Funding Formula Increase
    • Full-Service Community Schools Funding Expansion
    • Universal Public Pre-K
    • Free Public College
  • $15 Minimum Wage for All Nursing Home Workers (direct care and non-direct care)
  • Special Education Full State Funding
  • Nursing Home Transfer Public Input
  • Prescription Drug Price Transparency, Price Gouging Penalties and Profits Tax
  • Student Loan Debt Tax Deduction change to Refundable Tax Credit
  • Insulin Emergency Access
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Minnesota Home Care Workers Bring Minimum Wage Proposal of at Least $15 to Negotiations with State of Minnesota

Proposal comes as seniors and people with disabilities in Minnesota face an ongoing care crisis that has grown to 8,000 unfilled job openings caused by low wages

SAINT PAUL – On Wednesday afternoon, at their most recent bargaining session with the state of Minnesota, the bargaining team for the home care workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota presented a proposal to bring all home care workers in the bargaining unit to at least $15 per hour during the next two-year contract they are currently negotiating. The home care bargaining team includes workers, clients and family members of seniors and people with disabilities who receive care services. (more…)

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105 Stillwater Medical Group Healthcare Workers Vote to Join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

Victory Comes Just One Month After Supreme Court Case Attacking Workers, Shows Workers Won’t Stop Fighting for Better Lives for Our Families

Stillwater, Minn — Following an election Wednesday that saw 70% of the workers voting choosing to join the union, 105 healthcare workers with the Stillwater Medical Group became members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The group at the main campus in Stillwater includes CMAs (Certified Medical Assistant) (CMA), LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurse) and RMAs (Registered Medical Assistants). This victory came just weeks after the Janus ruling by the Supreme Court tried to make it harder for workers and their unions to build power in the public sector.union signs SMG pic

“I have seen what unions can do. With our Union we now will have more rights and more protections to improve our lives and the lives of our patients,” said Leah Buehler, a CMA at the clinic.

The group was part of the union until 2010 when their union was broken by a boss-driven decertification campaign. Within the last year the group came together to win a new union to help win a voice on the job, better working conditions and better care for their patients. They joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, one of the largest and fastest growing unions in the state.

“We don’t want management to make all the decisions and changes with no input from us anymore, or to have meetings after they have already decided something and we don’t get a say,” said LPN Satin Washington. “Half the time we don’t even get to go to those meetings because we are so busy we never get to take a break. I’m looking forward to us having a unified voice.”

Despite promises from the boss that they wouldn’t go backwards if they left their union in 2010, many in the group went from some of the highest paid in their field to having their pay and benefits fall behind other clinics.

“Every year we have been getting less and less.  When we had no union, management had all the power, and we had no voice,” said CMA Angela Peulen. “Now we have a legally binding voice as union members to win positive changes for ourselves and our patients!”

Despite getting pushback as they organized their union, the group remained united and won their decisive victory Wednesday that will set them up to make real changes in their clinic.

“Forming our union shows that we support each other,” said CMA Laura Boyle. “We were all separate before, but now we are together. We are united in our goal of winning positive change for ourselves and the patients we care for every day.”

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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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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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