Issues

SEIU Local 284, Union of 500 MPS School Employees, Join Calls Supporting MPS Plan to Cut Ties With MPD

MINNEAPOLIS – SEIU Local 284, the Union that represents 500 Minneapolis Public School employees who do custodial and food service work, joined the calls supporting the Minneapolis School Board plan to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd. The Board is expected to vote Tuesday on the issue.

mpsAhead of the vote, SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Kelly Gibbons released the following statement:

“SEIU members in Minneapolis and across our state believe in making a future where all families – no matter our race, zip code, job or wealth – have public schools where our students feel safe and have the resources they need to thrive. But in Minneapolis it has long been clear that Black families aren’t able to feel safe from the people who are supposed to serve and protect us. The killing of George Floyd last week has made clear for anyone who had any doubts that our system is broken and needs to be changed. A positive first step to enacting change in our public schools would be for the Minneapolis Public Schools to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. Not only will this make our schools safer and more welcoming, but imagine what kind of community-driven projects we could fund with this money to actually help and support our students. We are in full support of MPS cutting ties with MPD and believe this can be a first step towards building a better future for all students in the Minneapolis Public Schools.”

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Praise Bipartisan Votes as House and Senate Consider Wage and Benefit Increase for Home Care Work During COVID19 

Change would increase wages and benefits for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities

Saint Paul – The Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Division voted with bipartisan support Monday to move forward a bill that would increase rates for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services in Minnesota during COVID-19. Last week the Senate HHS Reform Committee took similar action.

HS_Remote_Hearing_rsThe bills, HF168 and SF3694, would lift wages and benefits for the workers who are ensuring Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities get the care they need to live in their homes by increasing rates by 15% during the current pandemic.

Stacie Zamora is a home care worker, Registered Nurse at United Hospital and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. She testified at Monday’s hearing about the need for this bill to help address the ongoing “care crisis” in our state, a situation where there aren’t enough home care workers to support Minnesotans who want to stay in their homes due to low pay and lack of benefits.

“A 15% increase to wages and benefits will give PCAs the hazard pay that all healthcare workers deserve,” said Zamora. “For the safety of [my client] Brent, his PCAs, myself, and my patients, we need this rate increase so these can be stable jobs with the tools to keep clients safe.”

This crisis has only become more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic when the low pay and lack of benefits have caused many of the people who care for our loved ones to have to choose between their health and their paycheck. This is happening at a time when it is even more critical for people with underlying health conditions to be able to stay in their homes to not risk getting exposed to COVID-19.

In a hearing on the Senate version of this bill last Wednesday, home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Debra Howze shared the urgency of this matter:

“It’s vital that PCAs and family caregivers get this wage increase, PPE, and sick time RIGHT NOW or the care crisis is only going to get more critical.”

Following the bipartisan votes of support, home care recipient Adrienne Kleinman shared her excitement about the momentum the bill now seems to have:

“I’m really pleased to know there’s broad bipartisan support for this bill. This increase would make it possible for me to recruit and retain the PCAs I rely on every day,” said Kleinman. “That’s a security that I need now more than ever!”

The next stop for the bills will be the Ways and Means committee in the House and the Health and Human Services Finance committee in the Senate.

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SEIU Healthcare MN Leader James Holt, Father of Alec, Responds to House and Senate Passage of Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act 

SAINT PAUL – SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member leader James Holt, father of Alec, shared his feelings following the passage of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act by the Minnesota House and Senate.

James_holt_insult_rs“Passing this bill means the world to me. It makes me feel like Alec didn’t die in vain. I think back to the first time I told this story, at a SEIU member meeting, and I just knew that we didn’t want anyone else to have to lose their child to corporate greed like we had. I’m thankful for the many elected officials who have helped make this a reality, from then Rep. Erin Murphy for being the first to support us telling our story to Rep. Mike Howard for helping bring it across the finish line,” said Holt.
“It was a long time coming. We know the creator of insulin gave it away for $1 to help save lives, but over the years the greed of Big Pharma made it so expensive that people like Alec were literally dying because they couldn’t afford this lifesaving medicine. I’m glad this bill moves us back towards a world where your life isn’t determined by what medicine you can afford. At moments it felt like we were hitting only potholes, but I am overjoyed to know that the passage of the  Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act will mean families won’t have to go through what we did. No one in Minnesota or anywhere should die because they can’t afford basic medicine. I’m thankful for today’s passage and thinking of Alec as we celebrate his bill becoming law.”
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State’s Largest Healthcare Workers’ Union Welcomes Walz Executive Order To Provide DHS Flexibility To Fight COVID-19

Order will allow faster staffing of nursing homes and helps homecare workers and clients be safer

SAINT PAUL – Members and leaders of the state’s largest healthcare union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, praised the announcement of Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-12 today that “allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them.”

CDC-coronavirus-image-23311_rsDelores Flynn, a Roseville mother whose son Scott requires 24-hour-a-day home care to survive, shared why this matters to the thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who receive care in their homes from home care workers.

“For families with loved ones who need care, this crisis is literally life or death. Families like mine are feeling the urgency and fear of the unknown. We need help and support. We have been struggling to keep our current caregivers and worried about the impact of Covid-19 if we don’t have the right people to care for Scott,” said Flynn. “I know through the union that thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities are sharing the same concerns I have about how we get the care our families need in a safe and efficient way. I am happy to hear that the Governor has waived some in-person requirements that would have slowed down the process of getting Scott the care he depends on. Relaxing background checks and other administrative burdens will allow us to find new workers faster, and right now that is what families across our state need to be safe and healthy.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member Melody Nordy, a TMA at the Luther Haven nursing home in Montevideo, shared the importance of this action for that group of workers.

“This is especially important for nursing home workers so we can operate safely under the threat of COVID-19. We need nursing homes to be fully staffed to provide the care our residents need across the state. We must not let the failure to process background checks and other criteria stand in the way of getting people to do this critical work.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley, who is currently serving on the Governor’s Covid Advisory Task Force, shared why these actions are so critical to keeping families safe.

“Frontline healthcare workers in our union have been performing heroically throughout this whole ordeal. I am glad the Governor continues to take actions to support and protect these incredible workers. We know that the COVID-19 outbreak requires fast and effective action, especially in matters that directly and immediately affect public health. We know the Governor has the authority and the responsibility to act and are thankful he has taken this important step. As a member of the Governor’s COVID Advisory Task Force, I know this is in line with what many provider, labor, and advocacy groups have urged him to do on this issue.”

In addition to Executive Order 20-12, Executive Order 20-11 allows state agencies to seek federal authority to change or waive some federal requirements applicable to these programs and services. As noted in the Governor’s announcement, DHS provides health care coverage, programs, and services for over 1 million Minnesotans, including groups likely to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 such as older adults, individuals who have disabilities, families with children, and individuals with mental illness. Earlier this week, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota joined over 200 other organizations on a letter calling for actions like these to take place to help ensure Minnesota healthcare workers and families are safe.

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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 and HealthPartners Reach Agreement, Strike Called Off

Union Members To Vote on Proposed New Contract Next Week

Saint Paul, MN – Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and HealthPartners management reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) at 3 a.m. this morning after 17 hours of negotiations. The 7-day ULP strike that was to begin Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. has been called off. The agreement came after a strike vote that saw 95% support for a 7-day ULP strike. The TA now will be reviewed and voted on by the 1,800 SEIU Healthcare MN members next week.
The full details will be shared with the membership before being fully released, but gains include:

  • Wage increases of 7.5% over the three years
  • Protecting union members’ excellent “Classic” health plan benefits
  • Overtime pay provisions protected from all cuts and changes

UNION_members_rsNancy Wickoren, a 31-year LPN at HealthPartners and member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team, shared the feeling of the bargaining team following the final marathon session. 
“Together, as a team, we worked long and hard to stand up for the health benefits and wages our families deserve. After months of negotiations, and an overwhelming strike vote, we were able to land on a strong tentative agreement for a new contract that maintains excellent healthcare benefits,” said Wickoren. “As in any negotiation, we didn’t get everything we wanted. But we are very proud of how our membership stood up together and fought back huge cuts and cost-shifts to healthcare and overtime pay that management had insisted on for months. The final agreement also includes improved wage increases in each year of the contract. The bargaining team is encouraging our members to vote ‘Yes’ to approve this agreement. They will have the next few days to review the terms of the tentative agreement in detail.”
Christina Bolk, a CareLine RN for 6 years, also shared her thoughts following the agreement.
“The members of our bargaining team want to express our deep appreciation for the support we have received from the public and our patients in this fight. It has been truly inspiring seeing how the whole community has come together to show support to HealthPartners caregivers. To other union members, especially fellow healthcare workers, we hope we have shown that by sticking together and organizing we can protect what we’ve won and win gains that allow us to get back to what we really want to be doing: provide world-class patient care to Minnesota families.”
The 1,800 workers in the bargaining unit represent nearly all caregivers other than doctors, including RNs, dental hygienists, LPNs, CMAs, midwives, lab techs, physicians assistants, and over 80 different jobs in total. They work at more than 30 HealthPartners clinics across the Twin Cities, providing award-winning care and helping to make our communities healthier.

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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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Despite Overwhelming Strike Vote, HealthPartners Refuses to Budge on Demands For Healthcare Cuts In Multiple Sessions This Week

Union Members Begin Strike Preparation

Saint Paul, MN – Talks stalled between HealthPartners and the 1,800 employees who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Following a strike vote that saw 95% support for a 7-day ULP strike, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at HealthPartners returned to the table twice this week, including Friday for over 11 hours. Despite SEIU members’ willingness to reach a fair deal, HealthPartners lawyers and management refused to move off their demands to roll back healthcare coverage for the 1,800 frontline healthcare workers and their families.

The union members are now working to prepare for their 7-day ULP strike scheduled to start the morning of Wednesday, February 19th. The members will hold a sign-making session Tuesday night at Awaken West 7th Church in St. Paul, ahead of the walkout that is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. (Formal advisory on Tuesday sign-making event to come.)

Cindy Sutherlund, a 20-year LPN at HealthPartners and member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team, shared the frustration members felt after management refused to budge:

“If HealthPartners doesn’t take care of their employees, how can we take care of our patients? We are the frontline caregivers who make sure our communities are healthy, but they are trying to roll back our healthcare,” said Sutherlund. “We don’t want to be forced to strike, but we know that if we go backwards on healthcare coverage now we will never get it back in the future, which will hurt employees, our families and our patients. We’re ready to strike if HealthPartners won’t take their healthcare cuts off the table.”

Nancy Wickoren, a 31-year LPN and member of the bargaining team, talked about how the Union was working to reach a deal.

“We came to bargaining this week open to make changes to get this deal done, but management are not willing to reach a fair deal. It makes me angry and sad. We want to be able to give good care and remain healthy,” said Wickoren. “I am not doing this for myself, but  for the frontline caregivers behind us. I didn’t realize how strong the younger people are in standing up for good care. I want to leave the next generation of caregivers in a place where they can continue giving world-class care for Minnesota families. We are united and ready to do whatever it takes to make sure we stand up for Minnesota families.”

The 1,800 workers in the bargaining unit represent nearly all caregivers other than doctors, including physicians assistants,midwives, RNs, dental hygienists, LPNs, CMAs, lab techs and over 80 different jobs in total. They work at 30 HealthPartners clinics across the Twin Cities, providing award-winning care and helping to make our communities healthier. The strike vote was held on February 6th for 15 hours at five locations across the Twin Cities. The contract between HealthPartners and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota expired on January 31st.

HealthPartners executives have proposed huge cuts and cost-shifting to the health benefits caregivers have won over the years. The cost-shifting measures come after the Star Tribune reported that HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh received over $2 million in pay last year, while the company earned a record-breaking $7 billion in revenue.

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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 Healthcare Minnesota Members at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Reach Tentative Agreement for New Contract

Agreement comes just days after members rejected previous contract offer and held a strike vote

Crosby, Minn – Just days after a majority of members voted to authorize a one-day ULP strike, members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the management team of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center reached a tentative agreement late Monday evening. The agreement now will be voted on by the members in all 3 bargaining units over the coming week, with voting wrapping up November 6th. Full details are currently being shared with membership, but some of the main highlights include:

  • Across the board wage increases of 2% per year of the contract and numerous increases for overnight work, certifications and more.
  • Increases in holiday pay
  • Improved sick leave and vacation policies

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President and lead negotiator Jamie Gulley commented on the TA, which the bargaining team recommended for a “yes” vote by membership.

“The work SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members do every day to make sure CRMC patients get the quality care they deserve is second to none. Our members are the reason for the ongoing success of CRMC. We are glad we were able to move forward in many regards and know that the 600 hard working members deserve everything they won and much more. I’m proud this group pushed to win the gains they won for CRMC workers, patients and the whole community.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents 600 healthcare workers working at the hospital, nursing home, assisted living center and the ambulance crew. SEIU members perform nearly every job at CRMC except Registered Nurse, including: RadiologicTechnologists, Medical Lab Techs, Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified SurgicalTechs, Paramedics, EMTs, Sterile Processing workers, Skilled Maintenance workers-carpenters/electricians, Business Office Clerical workers, Admissions,Environmental Services, Dietary and more.

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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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Elk River Nursing Home Workers Set 10-day ULP Strike to Start Oct. 5th as Contract Negotiations Continue to Stall

ELK RIVER — Nursing home workers at Guardian Angels in Elk River announced today that they have voted to hold a 10-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike beginning October 5th as their employer continues to refuse to bargain in good faith. 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 Union filed the formal 10-day notice of the strike Monday.

Elk_River_Guardian_Angel_Strike_rs_1Jane Gardner, a nursing assistant and TMA at Guardian Angels for over 14 years, shared why the workers again voted to go on a ULP strike to win what is right if management won’t work to find an agreement.
“Despite all we have gone through, we remain united in our values and committed to winning what is right for ourselves and our residents. After our two-day strike we thought we would see a breakthrough with management, but things just haven’t changed despite over 20 hours of bargaining. All we are asking is to be respected and valued and to be able to have a voice on the job through our union,” said Gardner. “We care deeply about the lives of our residents and work hard to make Guardian Angels the Five Star facility that it is our residents. We are just asking for that hard work to be acknowledged and respected. We want to feel heard and we want a fair deal. It has become clear that we needed to authorize another, longer strike to show that we won’t back down in our fight for what is right for workers, residents and the whole Elk River community.”
This same group went out on a two-day strike in June. They continue to push their demands of safe staffing for residents, union access to ensure a voice on the job and pay that helps recruit and retain the best staff for the facility. Despite over 20 hours of bargaining since the two-day strike, management continue to refuse movement on important issues the workers have highlighted. 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.
Before the two-day strike the two sides had met for over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands. The only bargaining session scheduled between now and October 5th is this Thursday, September 26th.

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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 Healthcare Minnesota Member James Holt, Jr. Responds to GOP Insulin Proposal

SAINT PAUL – Following the Senate Republicans announcing their plans to address the insulin crisis, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member James Holt, Jr. released the following statement. 
 
Jame_Holt_Insulin_rs“As a father to Alec, a healthcare worker and a leader of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, I want a solution to this insulin crisis more than words can explain. I’m proud to be part of a union and a movement that believes every person – no matter our race, wealth or zip code – deserves the medicine they need to not just survive but thrive. I am glad the Senate Republicans today engaged in this important conversation, but what they’ve proposed isn’t the solution we need to meet the challenge of Pharma greed that Minnesota families are facing. People are dying. They need emergency access. We need solutions that take into account the voices of the people directly affected. We need results, not just talk. We need our elected officials to show that the lives of Minnesotans are more important than corporate healthcare profits. To ensure no one else has to die like Alec did, we need elected officials to directly take on Big Pharma and the corporate greed that is killing people so CEOs can make more money. We need Insulin For ALL.”
 
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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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