Minneapolis, Minn. – On Thursday, December 5 at noon, community members from across Minnesota will gather at a Minneapolis McDonald’s to protest poverty wages and call on Minnesota to raise the wage. As thousands of fast food workers go on strike in more than 100 locations across the country, here in Minnesota, community and labor groups will join faith leaders as they call for an end to publicly subsidizing large fast food corporations.
Rep. Keith Ellison released a statement in support of the striking workers nationally and applauded the Minnesota community for standing up in support of them.
“In the richest country in the world, no one working full-time should be living in poverty,” Rep. Ellison said. “The movement against poverty wages gets stronger each time a working American bravely stands up. I stand with the workers walking off the job today because too many people working at fast-food restaurants are barely able to put food on their own tables.”
More than half of all fast food workers make so little they are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. When tax dollars are used to subsidize large, profitable corporations, other publicly funded resources are shortchanged, including our public schools. Low-wage workers who led the charge against poverty wages last week by participating in retail strikes and public marches will join community members in calling for higher wages in Minnesota.
Protests in Minneapolis and Cambridge will echo similar protests across the country.
|WHAT:||Protest to End Poverty Wages at McDonald’s|
|WHEN:||Thursday, December 5Noon|
|WHERE:||McDonald’s1440 Stinson Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55413
|WHO:||Anytrea Baker – SEIU Local 284 member, North Minneapolis ParentIsaiah Campbell – SEIU Local 284 member, former fast food worker
Rev. Grant Stevensen – Twin Cities Faith Leader
Andrea Williams – OUR Walmart member store #5625
Minnesotans for a Fair Economy
Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is a coalition of labor, community and faith organizations that are fighting for an economy that works for all of us.
Minneapolis, Minn. – Friday healthcare workers from across Minnesota came together to celebrate 80 years of improving people’s lives, while welcoming in a new wave of workers. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota is celebrating its 80th anniversary this weekend, bringing in leaders from across the state and country to honor the oldest healthcare union in America.
“Eighty years ago, the people who cleaned the hospitals, mended the linens and cared for patients were mostly women and people of color – the work they did was not seen as real work. When Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in the 1930s, they left these workers out of the law,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
“But eighty years ago, something special happened here in the Twin Cities. These workers – women, many of them women of color – joined together to fight against low pay, lack of benefits, and most of all, the lack of respect that accompanied their work. They formed a union and won voluntary recognition to create the first healthcare workers’ union in America,” continued Gulley.
Mary Kay Henry, the International President of SEIU, joined in the weekend’s celebration. Henry, the first woman elected to lead SEIU, began her career as a union organizer with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
During her visit, Henry welcomed the personal care attendants (PCAs) and other home care workers who participated in the union assembly as they prepare to launch their organizing drive to form a union with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota later this fall.
“For too long this vital occupation, upon which the health and independence of millions depend, has been treated as marginal and casual work to be performed under poverty conditions,” said Henry. “This has been so, even as the occupation has become among the fastest growing and most vitally important within the American health care system.
“I welcome these workers’ efforts to make home care jobs into the good quality jobs that we need to get our economy moving again and to ensure that all Americans have access to the quality care they deserve.”
Home care workers spent part of the day laying out their vision for their union, which they shared during a brief press conference.
“The PCA program is a blessing when it works. But in my years as a PCA, I see that most of the time it’s not working very well because of the high turnover and the lack of training opportunities. I have met and talked with many other PCAs— the problems are affecting all of us,” said Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from St. Paul. “I want a union so that if my family ever needs to rely on a PCA in the future, there will be a lot of good, well trained, reliable people to draw from.”
“Through our union, we are going to make sure that our work is respected,” said Jane Conrad, a home care worker from Richmond. “We provide direct support services so people can stay in their homes, but we also need to earn a respectable wage so we can afford our homes.”
“I’ve worked hard as a disability advocate to ensure that everyone who needs self-directed support services has access to them,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a recipient of home care services. “But no matter how hard we fight, our services will always be in danger as long as our PCAs are expected to work for low wages with no benefits, little access to training and no voice to change those things. If my workers have a better quality of life, my family and I have a better quality of life.”
Dozens of PCAs and other direct support workers said they are continuing to talk with other workers across the state as they prepare to launch their statewide organizing drive later this fall. Self-directed home care workers in public programs recently won the right to form a union under state law.
“We are proud of the history we have of being leaders in the healthcare industry,” said Gulley. “Today, that history continues with the thousands of home care workers around the state who are working to form a union. Home care workers provide care for our seniors and people with disabilities. Yet today they have the same struggles the hospital workers who founded our unions faced 80 years ago – low pay, lack of benefits and lack of respect. We look forward to their inclusion in our great tradition of improving people’s lives.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 15,000 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.
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…)
St. Paul, MN – More than 50 hours after first arriving at the Capitol Saturday afternoon, Sumer Spika joined a tired, but elated group of home care workers and recipients in celebration. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – Since December, Sumer Spika has been talking to anyone who will listen about why she’s supporting a bill that would allow her and 12,000 other home care workers to choose whether they want to join together in a union. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – Karen Urman has been fighting for the right to form a union ever since Republicans voted to cut her pay by 20 percent in 2011.
“Because I work as a PCA (personal care attendant) for my son, Ziggy, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to cut my pay,” said Urman, who lives in Mounds View. “That’s when I realized PCAs and home care workers needed to join together to collectively bargain with the state to protect us against further cuts.” (more…)
St. Paul, MN – After 11 committees and a record-setting 17-hour debate on the Senate floor, home care workers are celebrating a win after the Senate voted 35 – 32 to pass a bill that would extend collective bargaining rights to workers in self-directed public home care programs. (more…)
St. Paul, MN – Nikki Villavicencio-Tollison is not new to the political process. As a leader among disability advocates, she has spent years working to improve services for the disability community. This year, among her many priorities, is a bill that would grant collective bargaining rights to personal care attendants (PCAs) and other home care workers in self-directed programs. (more…)
Great letter from Janet Konezny, a home care worker in Edina: “I want a union for home care workers so we can have more of a voice in how the system works. This will help ensure there is a stable, viable workforce. We also need to prioritize mental health more in our state, and by having a voice with a home care union, we can advocate for this kind of change.”