Home care workers support Minnesota’s seniors and people with disabilities to live independent lives. Currently, many seniors and people with disabilities who receive home care services are facing issues getting the care they need because home care workers are having their hours capped at 40 hours per week. President Obama changed the overtime rule in 2015 to fix the injustice of care workers, predominantly women and people of color, having been deliberately excluded from the basic legal protections around minimum wage and overtime created in the 1930s.
With the severe shortage of home care workers in the state, this has resulted in challenges for those needing care. Minnesota needs to provide funding and policies so that no seniors or people with disabilities have the hours capped of their home care worker who provides them care.
How to Fix It:
Why this matters, from SEIU Healthcare MN member home care worker Marie Bounds:
We are very glad to see that Governor Dayton has recognized that this issue is important to thousands of families with seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota, by adding funding for overtime pay in his supplemental budget. Recently I was told I can’t work more than 40 hours per week between my two clients, so I had to choose which client I was going to help, and which client I would have to cut back on care for. They both have extensive care needs and I’ve been their PCA for nearly 4 years. One client really needed the extra 7 hours, but I had to cut back being his PCA. It is a challenge for him to find someone who is reliable for just those few hours, because of the shortage of home care workers. Fixing this issue will help families all over Minnesota and is a step towards making our state a better place for all of us. We look forward to fighting to get this funding for the overtime pay we need and to which we’re now entitled under federal law, along with protections so that workers like me can’t have our hours capped at 40 hours per week anymore, so that no senior or person with disabilities struggles to get the care they deserve.
Saint Paul, Minn — Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Minnesota is calling on Governor Dayton and state legislators to follow California’s lead and pass vital legislation that will protect kids and save thousands of lives by raising the minimum age to buy tobacco.
“California legislators overcame heavy-handed lobbying and threats from the tobacco industry, passing Tobacco 21 legislation because they recognized their duty to protect families in their state. Don’t the children of Minnesota deserve the same chance to grow up addiction-free?” said Jamie Gulley, President of the SEIU Minnesota State Council.
Last week, the California State Assembly passed SB 7 X2 by State Senator Ed Hernandez that will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. California will now join Hawaii as the second state to make this important change.
Ninety-five percent (95%) of adult tobacco users started before they were 21 years old. Of those kids who become regular smokers, 1 in 3 will die from tobacco-related diseases.
Even tobacco industry researchers acknowledge that addiction-prone adolescents are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to become lifelong smokers, the reason Big Tobacco vehemently fought the Tobacco 21 legislation in California.
“Saving lives by keeping tobacco out of teens’ hands is a legacy that Minnesota leaders can embrace by fighting the number one cause of preventable death in our state.”
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in your homes, hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, hotels, universities and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings, and who make and distribute products used by Minnesotans every day. 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 53,000 people SEIU represents 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 and Workers United.
St. Paul, Minn — With the news today that Governor Dayton has appointed Emily Johnson Piper to replace Lucinda Jesson as his next Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota released the following statement:
“As the largest healthcare union in the state, we value strong leadership in the Department of Human Services. We want to commend Commissioner Jesson for her outstanding term and all she did to help working people in our state during her tenure. She managed the historic first contract for home care workers, which saw the people who care for our families in our homes raise their pay floor and get paid time off, many for the first time ever. This is an important step to stabilizing this growing industry in Minnesota. Her department implemented the increased funding for nursing home workers from the last legislative session, which has resulted in raising standards in nursing homes across the state, with a specific emphasis on care facilities in Greater Minnesota. In addition, the Department’s work strengthening MNSure and the successful extension of Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare coverage to many thousands more low-income working people in our state during Commissioner Jesson’s time has reduced the uninsured rates and helped to make Minnesota a stronger and more healthy state.
“We applaud Governor Dayton’s choice of Emily Johnson Piper as the new Commissioner and look forward to working with Commissioner Johnson Piper and the whole Department to continue pursuing our shared goals of making sure that all Minnesotans can live the healthy and independent lives that they choose.”
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.
My name is Linda and I live in Crosby, Minnesota. I have been a home care worker for over eight years, and I am part of a statewide movement of home care workers and clients who are working to get our first contract ratified by the State Legislature.
I know how important home care workers are to seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota. One client I had for four years asked me to spend time with them when they were passing away from their illness. For another client I was able to save their life by being there when they went into a coma.
But home care work is much deeper than these exceptional moments. I’ve worked incredibly hard to ensure that people who otherwise would be in an institution were able to stay in their homes and have the dignity and comfort that they deserve.
I believe all of my clients would tell you I am great at what I do, but home care workers like myself face a constant struggle because of the low pay and lack of benefits. I love the work, but sometimes I don’t get to take care of my family or myself because I have to work so many hours just to make ends meet.
I’ve had clients that I’ve had to drive 40 miles, each way, to take care of without being reimbursed. When my husband was injured recently, we were stretched incredibly thin just to pay our bills. My fifteen year old son wants to go to drivers ed, but we can’t afford the classes.
I would like enough pay and a chance for retirement, so I don’t have to work until I’m 100. I’d like benefits like sick days so I can take care of my family if something happens. It is a scary situation to be one sickness or missed paycheck away from losing everything. I recently had knee surgery and was supposed to rest for 2 weeks, but because we needed the money, I went back to work after only three days.
This has to change.
That is why we believe that home care workers and the people we serve deserve to live the lives we choose.
That is why we fought at the Capitol in 2013 to have the chance to vote for a union, and why this last summer thousands of home care workers voted yes to joining SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Now, we are negotiating a contract with the State and need the Minnesota Legislature to ratify our contract.
We’ve fought so hard to make this work more visable, but we need to get our first contract to begin seeing the changes we so desperately need in our field.
I don’t want any more home care workers to have to quit because of low pay and lack of benefits and stability, and I don’t want any more home care clients to have to suffer from the fear that the instability caused by these conditions could undercut the support they need to live independently.
Join me in urging our legislators to ratify a strong first contract so home care workers and the people we serve can live the lives we choose!