SEIU MN State Council
Media Relations Coordinator
Nearly 100 healthcare workers from across the metro walked the picket line August 15 at the Aspen Medical Group Maplewood Clinic as part of an informational picket against contract demands being made by Allina Health. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members who work at nine Aspen Clinics have been in contract negotiations with their corporate parent, Allina Health, for months. Two weeks ago, Allina proposed to eliminate every union benefit they have fought for and won over the last decade.
“This is the fight of our lives,” said Amy Root, a member of the bargaining committee. “As healthcare workers, we care deeply about the health and quality of life for those we care for. But if we aren’t ensured basic protections ourselves, how will we attract and retain the best workers out there? We are the frontline workers in these clinics – we need to be treated fairly so we can make certain that our patients are getting the very best care possible.”
The major sticking point for workers is Allina’s demand to base health insurance benefits on biometric screening results like BMI, many of which discriminate based on genetic factors outside a person’s control. Just a year ago, workers voted on whether they wanted to participate in the program and rejected it with 99 percent of the vote.
Allina has also demanded the right to eliminate life insurance and long-term disability insurance, eliminate overtime based on the 8-hour workday, and eliminate all shift differentials: a complete gutting of earned benefits and the right to collectively bargain over them.
Aspen Clinics are owned by Allina Health and are in the process of being re-branded as Allina Health Clinics along with Allina Medical Clinics and Quello clinics, both of which are non-union. Workers say the proposed contract is an effort by Allina Health to rid workers of their right to collectively bargain over changes to benefits and working conditions.
“Under the guise of ‘standardization’ Allina Health is attempting to gut almost every benefit in the Aspen contract and to lower their standards to those of non-contract employees. But together, healthcare members will stand up for a fair contract so we can continue providing the best quality of care possible for our friends, family and community members,” continued Root.
The contract covers around 350 members, who work in the nine clinics as LPNs, radiology technologists, medical assistants, lab technicians, phlebotomists and patient registration receptions. They will return to the bargaining table Monday.
St. Paul, MN – On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill which grants a historic expansion of collective bargaining rights for Minnesota workers. (more…)
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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SAINT PAUL, MN – After a record-breaking debate in the Minnesota legislature, healthcare workers across the state are celebrating a milestone today in their effort to provide quality care to Minnesotans. Governor Dayton signed the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange into law today, which will bring better healthcare coverage to 1.3 million Minnesotans, while saving Minnesotans more than $1 billion. In response to today’s signing, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley issued the following statement: (more…)
SAINT PAUL, MN – Healthcare workers across the state are celebrating a victory today after a 72-61 vote on the House floor last night to approve a bill which will provide affordable, quality health care to more than 1.3 million Minnesotans through a health insurance exchange. The exchange will allow more than 300,000 currently uninsured individuals to gain healthcare coverage.
“We are happy to see the smart purchaser language was protected during the conference committee and in last night’s vote,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “Without this ability, the exchange would merely serve the interests of insurance companies, rubber-stamping any plan regardless of quality or affordability. While it will take a year to implement, the state will eventually be able to negotiate with insurers for the best plans, those that are higher quality and more affordable.”
“Not only does this promote the best plans for Minnesotans, the smart purchaser promotes accountability to Minnesota taxpayers,” said Elsie Urman, a member of SEIU Healthcare. “We are thrilled to see this bill pass – it will reduce the number of people we see who need care, yet have no coverage. I can’t tell you how it breaks my heart to turn away sick patients simply because they lost their private insurance. This bill is a major step forward in solving this problem.”
The bill allows Minnesota to capitalize on funding opportunities from the federal government as provided by the Affordable Care Act. The bill has been through hundreds of hours of debate and faced attempt after attempt to weaken it. Healthcare workers have been waiting more than two years for legislators to act.
“By the next election in November 2014, more than a million Minnesotans will have acquired their healthcare through the Minnesota exchange,” said Rick Varco, SEIU Healthcare Political Director. “When they go to the polls, they should remember who voted to deny them that coverage.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota played an active role throughout the process as members of the Commerce Department Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Task Force.
“We thank the legislators who helped healthcare workers and Minnesotans secure this victory,” continued Gulley. “Their leadership in the face of tremendous pressure from the insurance companies and other special interests is appreciated.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 17,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 30,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.
SAINT PAUL, MN – Following Thursday night’s passage of SF 1 – a bill that creates the health insurance exchange in Minnesota – healthcare workers across the state are looking forward to major improvements in affordable, quality healthcare coverage for more than 300,000 Minnesotans. Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, issued the following statement: (more…)