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!
Chaleena Hogfoss, a single mom from St. Paul, says the Affordable Care Act has saved her from thousands of dollars in medical debt.
Up until August 2013, Chaleena was able to stay on her mom’s insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. Over the past three years on her mom’s insurance, Chaleena had three major medical emergencies – one was for her gall bladder and the other two were for reproductive issues. Each time, she was really ill, nearly dying at one point.
Chaleena says without the ACA extension to age 26, she would’ve been uninsured and would now be in medical debt for life.
Chaleena’s mom, Kelly Gibbons, has insurance through her employer, SEIU Local 284, where she works as a contract organizer.
Chaleena has currently been uninsured since August when she turned 26, which she says is a scary place to be in since she’s had so many health issues over the past few years. While she has worked at Taco Bell and other fast food restaurants, she currently is unemployed and looking for work. Recently she had another health incident which put her in the hospital. While there, an advisor at the hospital helped her complete the process to sign up for MNsure for both herself and her daughter. She qualifies for MNsure free of charge, since she is currently unemployed. Chaleena says she’s currently waiting back to hear the final word that her insurance is processed.
Chaleena and her daughter live with Chaleena’s mom, Kelly. She says even when she’s working fulltime, as a low-wage worker, she can’t afford to pay rent and the rest of her bills. Chaleena is thankful she can sign up herself and her daughter for insurance through MNsure, because she doesn’t know how she would be able to afford health insurance otherwise. With her medical history, she knows how important having insurance is for her family.
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, 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.