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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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.



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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Home Care Workers and State of Minnesota Reach Agreement on First Contract

Members to vote on contract in coming weeks

St. Paul, MN – Home care workers and the state of Minnesota have reached an agreement on a first contract for the 27,000 home care workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The tentative agreement will be brought to members of the union for ratification in the coming weeks. If members vote to approve it, the Legislature will then vote on its ratification.

HCW_Capitol_Rally_rsWhen home care workers were fighting at the Capitol to get the right to form their union, the pay floor was $6.15. In surveys conducted by the union, over 20% of workers said they had lost wages at some point as a home care worker. Workers also noted the lack of training they receive, despite their important work. The contract that workers will be voting on would move the floor to $11.00 per hour, provides funding for training and gives workers protections against situations where they are not paid for their work.

Francis Hall, a home care worker from Crosby and also a member of the bargaining team, stressed the importance of this contract for both home care workers – the fastest-growing job in the country –  and the clients they serve.

“For too long we have had to fight against the notion that care work isn’t ‘real work,’ from a lack of respect, fair pay or any benefits,” Hall said. “Our clients depend on us to be there to support them, and we love the work we do. But there is constant turnover in our field, because workers can’t afford to make ends meet on poverty wages and no benefits. This undermines the quality of care our clients receive. Home care workers, like workers in other low-wage industries who have raised their voices for a more fair society, are fighting to live, not just survive. This contract is a critical step towards that goal, but we know that our work of winning dignity, respect and a decent livelihood for home care workers has just begun.”

Sumer Spika is a home care worker from St. Paul who was part of the bargaining team for negotiations with the state and a leader of the campaign to win the right to vote to form a union. She highlighted the fact that the contract provides five days of paid time off per year for full-time home care workers, something sorely lacking in a workforce of approximately 90% women.

“This contract provides for five days of PTO for home care workers, something I know is incredibly important. My daughter was recently in the hospital for over three weeks with a respiratory illness, and with no PTO, my family felt the stress that too many families have had to face,” Spika stated. “No one should have to choose between caring for their sick children and paying the bills, and this part of the contract is an important step towards fixing one of the many injustices facing the workers like me who care for seniors and people with disabilities across our state.”

Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood who was part of the bargaining team, spoke about what the contract will mean for those who receive home care services.

“I am proud of this agreement and glad that it is included the Governor’s budget, so we know it won’t take funding from other vital services”,” said Villavicencio. “My family will benefit from the increased stability that will come with a higher pay floor, paid time off, new training funds and the other benefits that this contract will provide the workers who care for us.  In addition to being the first choice of most families, we know that home and community based services that home care workers provide will save the state money over having seniors and people with disabilities go into institutions. This is an important step in our fight, so that both workers and care recipients like my family can finally live the lives we choose.”

After fighting for years to make their work “invisible no more,” home care workers won the right to vote whether to form a union during the 2013 legislative session. In August of 2014 they voted decisively to form their union, which will represent all workers in the bargaining unit, but has voluntary membership. If approved by members and the legislature, this tentative agreement will become the first new union contract with the state of Minnesota in decades.


 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 42,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 57,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.

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The ECM Post Review: State aid the ‘best economic news’ in decades for NBAPS

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2013 Session Truly Historic, Moves Minnesota Forward to a Brighter Future

Legislators, Governor Dayton make crucial investments in education and health care while expanding rights for workers

St. Paul, MN – As the dust settles on the 2013 legislative session, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say it will go down in history as one of the most successful legislative sessions, providing a balanced approach to making key investments in our middle class, while expanding the rights of collective bargaining for workers. (more…)

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Governor Dayton’s Revised Budget Shows Balance, Measured Approach to Investing in Working Families

Minnesota Working Families Stand Behind Fair Revenue, Investments in Schools, Seniors and Middle Class

St. Paul, MN – After weeks of public debate over the best budget to move Minnesota forward, members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are standing behind the Governor in his plan to restore fairness to our state by asking big corporations to give up tax loopholes and the richest two percent to pay their fair share. (more…)

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Budget Proposal Shows Balance, Focus on Priorities for a Better Future

SEIU applauds Governor Dayton for responsible and fair budget proposal

St. Paul, MN – Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are applauding Governor Mark Dayton today for his honest approach to a fair and balanced budget after decades of a broken system.

Governor Mark Dayton

“For too long, the system has been rigged to benefit elite corporations and the wealthy,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare. “Our state’s budget has been wildly unbalanced, giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations while our schools and seniors are forced to endure more and more cuts. Elite corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share to make the crucial investments in education and care for our seniors.”

“This budget finally strikes a balance in our state which will allow us to invest in our priorities,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “The 1% continues to make its wea
lth off the backs of working families, locking people out of the middle class. We need to pay workers living wages so they can support their families. I am proud this budget puts an emphasis on rebuilding the middle class and investing in our communities.

“I am pleased to see Governor Dayton recognize the sacrifices our children have been forced to make,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “Investments in education – from early education through college – are critical to helping our state move forward. We look forward to talking with legislators about the need for a general education levy to solve the problems of investing in our children’s education. A child’s opportunity for a quality education should not be dependent on where a child lives.”

“The Governor’s plan is a fair one,” continued Gulley. “As the population ages, programs for the elderly continue to be cut. Investments in healthcare for seniors now will help us address the looming workforce crisis. We need to invest in workers through better wages and benefits to improve the quality of care for our seniors. We are all concerned about providing care and dignity to our seniors, and investing in better care now will help keep seniors out of nursing homes and save the state money down the road.”

SEIU supports the Governor’s responsible and fair plan, and thanks him for this critical first step in getting our economy back on track. With a renewed emphasis on our state’s priorities like education and care for our seniors, Minnesota will be able to strengthen the state’s economy, restore fairness and invest in a brighter future.





SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, child care, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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President Obama Leads The Way On Tax Cuts For The 99%

“We tried what they’re selling,” Obama said of the tax cuts that Romney and Republicans want to leave in place for all income levels. “It didn’t work and somehow they think you don’t remember.”

President Barrack Obama on the 2012 campaign trail

After the President delivered his speech, this week, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Today, President Obama showed the leadership we need to restore fairness to our tax system. By calling on Congress to extend tax cuts for families making $250,000 or less, the President is standing up for the 99 percent and insisting that the wealthy pay their fair share.

“We all must pay our fair share in taxes. The President is leading the way, now it is time for Congress to take up the tax debate in a serious manner, extend tax cuts for middle class families and end tax giveaways to those who don’t need them.”

What might an alternative look like?  Well, if Mitt Romney is elected, it’s likely the American public would see him and Republicans in Congress cut taxes for their wealthy 1% friends by reinstating Bush’s tax breaks for them.  We need to work toward electing leaders, not panderers, who will represent the interests of the 99% in America, not the richest 1%.

Before his speech on Monday, he said during his weekly Saturday radio address that the United States needs to do more than just reclaim jobs lost to the recession, as he called for rebuilding the economy to make it secure for future generations. “Our mission isn’t just to put people back to work – it’s to rebuild an economy where that work pays; an economy in which everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead,” said Saturday the United States needs to do more than just reclaim jobs lost to the recession, as he called for rebuilding the economy to make it secure for future generations.

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New SEIU Report: Banks Shortchanged Schools

SEIU Minnesota has issued a report titled I.O.U.: How Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank Have Shortchanged Minnesota Schools that lays some of the blame for a $2.4 billion school shift and other shortfalls in school funding on the practices of the state’s largest banks and their executives. (more…)

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