Labor Movement

New Report Highlights Impacts of High Poverty Rates in Minnesota’s East African Communities

Cites Raising Wages to $15 at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Largest Employer of Community, as Chance to Bring over $30 Million to Local Economy

Minneapolis, MN – A new report titled “Waiting for Takeoff,” released today by the Center for Popular Democracy, shined light on the disproportionately high poverty rate for the East African communities in Minnesota. It also highlighted the role the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport, as the largest employer of East African workers in the state, could take to address this crisis. (more…)

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Home Care Contract

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!

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Minneapolis Airport Workers Win Groundbreaking Paid Sick Time Policy

One week after large protest, the Metropolitan Airports Commission pass policy that will benefit hundreds of workers at MSP

Minneapolis, MN – Airport workers employed by sub-contractors for airlines like Delta won an important victory Monday when the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) voted unanimously to pass a policy requiring contractors to provide paid sick time to workers, a move the Commission said was the first for a Minnesota jurisdiction. The vote came just one week after hundreds of workers and supporters flooded the airport for a protest that called for $15 and a union, paid sick leave, fair scheduling and an end to firing and intimidation. The paid sick policy requires that contractors provide one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, and will go into effect in January. The policy allows usage if the employee or a family member is sick, and allows for paid leave in the case of sexual assault or domestic abuse.

UnionAdvocate_AirportSuado Gabow is one of the workers who is part of the fight that won this important victory, and is leading on the continued work for $15 and a union.

“We are proud that after years of fighting, and just one week after a big protest, we took a big step forward today by winning paid sick days for thousands airport workers,” said Gabow, a wheelchair assistant at Delta sub-contractor Air Serv. “We still are fighting to raise our minimum-wage pay and improve other working conditions, but knowing that if myself or my daughter gets sick I don’t have to choose between health and a paycheck is a really big deal.”

At the meeting, dozens of workers and supporters stood holding signs from previous protests that said “Still Waiting for Paid Sick Days” while the Commission heard testimony from Kip Hedges, the worker Delta fired for speaking out about wages, and Air Serv workers who advocated for passing the paid sick policy. Hundreds of Air Serv workers do essential jobs such as cabin cleaning and supporting seniors and passengers with disabilities as cart drivers and wheel chair assistants. Despite this important work, most are paid minimum wage with virtually no benefits, training or support. Workers have been coming together over the last few years in their fight to join a union to address these issues, and this victory is an important step for the campaign. Before the vote to pass the paid sick policy, MAC Commissioner Erica Prosser noted that if all airport employees were granted the right to collectively bargain, workers would be able to bargain themselves and the MAC would not find itself in the position to have to craft policies like paid sick leave.

After the meeting, workers celebrated the victory and committed to using the momentum from this victory in their continued fight for $15 and a union. A growing coalition of labor, faith and community groups continue to advocate at the Capitol for Earned Safe and Sick time for all Minnesota workers.


SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 225,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2.1 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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Home Care Workers Announce Victory in Historic Union Election

Home Care workers win union vote in largest election in state history, seeking better pay and respect for their work and improved care for recipients

St. Paul, MN – Home care workers announced today that workers voted decisively to form their union and join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota. Workers gathered with home care clients and supporters at the Minnesota State Fair Labor Pavilion to announce that the Bureau of Mediation Services tallied the votes earlier in the day and certified the victory, with 60% of voters voting yes (5,872 Votes. Yes: 3542, No: 2306, Void/blank: 23). The election, the largest of its kind in state history, was triggered when workers turned in thousands of cards on July 8th requesting to form their union. Ballots went out on Friday, August 1st, and the historic election ran for 25 days, ending yesterday, Monday, August 25th.

State Fair Press Conference_1_rs

At the press conference announcing the results, home care workers shared their joy over the results, coming after many years of effort. They discussed their commitment to continue fighting, through their newly-formed union, to finally make real improvements to the home care programs on which so many people with disabilities and elderly Minnesotans depend.

“This union has the power to change the lives of thousands of Minnesota families for the better,” said Yankuba Fadera, a home care worker from Maplewood. “Home care work is real and important work. Both workers and the people we serve deserve better, and winning our union and having a collective voice is a huge step toward getting a contract that makes these improvements a reality. Today, after exercising our democratic right to vote for our union, we are showing how true the statement ‘When We Fight, We Win’ can be for workers in Minnesota.”

“Despite every obstacle put in our way, we stuck to our promise to keep fighting until we were able to exercise our democratic right to let home care workers decide for themselves whether to form a union,” said Sumer Spika, a home care worker from St. Paul. “When given the right to decide for ourselves, home care workers clearly are ready for change.  With our union, we will have a unified voice to fight for better conditions for ourselves and better care for those we serve.”

“Despite the importance of our work caring for Minnesotans in every corner of the state, our work still lacks the respect it deserves,” said Rosemary Van Vickle, a home care worker from Crosby. “Workers deserve things like fair pay better training and paid time off. Because we love our work and the people we serve, we have come together to fight for change. After years of struggle just to get a vote, today we are so excited to have won our union! With our collective voice, we will be stronger in our fight for improvements for both workers and the people we serve.”

Advocates with disabilities who receive home care services also spoke today about why this is an important victory for consumers as well as workers.

“When workers voted yes for their union, they were voting Yes for a better life not only for themselves, but also for families like mine,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood who attended the press conference with her husband and daughter. “The high turnover in this field, from the low pay and lack of benefits, causes turmoil for families. When we undervalue the workers, we undervalue families like mine. With a voice through a union, we are confident we will finally see the changes needed to make this work invisible no more!”

The workers voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Home care workers have been organizing to improve their jobs and Minnesota’s home care programs for years, and won the right to form a union under state law last year.



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.

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Home Care Workers File For Largest Union Election in Minnesota History

Vowing to be ‘Invisible No More,’ workers prepare to vote on forming union, seeking better pay and respect for their work and improved home care for recipients

St. Paul, MN – Personal care assistants and direct support professionals gathered today with home care clients and supporters at the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services to announce their filing for an election to form a statewide home care workers union. Thousands of home care workers signed cards in support of forming a union so they can win improvements to their jobs and to the care they provide for elderly and disabled Minnesotans.

Nikki Speaking_rs“My partner, Nicole, needs PCA support 24 hours a day. With the help of several other PCAs, I work every day to see that she gets the care she needs to accomplish her goals,” said Tyler Frank, a home care worker from New Hope. “Because of the high turnover of Nicole’s workers and the extra work their absence leaves for me, I often have to support Nicole at the expense of my own aspirations. We need to recognize the importance of home care work and make it a stable career – that will improve the stability of my life and Nicole’s life.”

“I’ve been a home care worker for the last 15 years, and I decided to go into nursing to help those around me live healthier, longer lives, but because of the current conditions of the work, I’ve suffered myself,” said Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from Brooklyn Park. “I had a hysterectomy and went to work the following day because missing work means that my children do not eat. I am here today because for too long, the work I and over 26,000 other Minnesotans do for a living – the work of caring for our neighbors, keeping seniors and people with disabilities in their homes and communities – has been made invisible, and when we win our union, we will finally be invisible no more.”

“We are coming together because we know that in other states where home care workers have formed a union, they have won significant wage increases, access to benefits and training opportunities, and most importantly, a voice in the state decisions that affect them,” said Darleen Henry, a home care worker from Rosemount.

People with disabilities who receive home care services also spoke about why they strongly support home care workers coming together to form a union. “When home care workers are struggling to survive, having to work multiple jobs and still barely able to feed their own family, families like mine see first-hand the hardship that causes, both for their lives and for ours,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood. “The high turnover in the field, from the low pay and lack of benefits, causes turmoil for families. The current conditions often make me wonder, why is this field so undervalued? Why is it the workers who support my family are treated as if they are invisible? My family knows that when home care workers win their union, it will help not only them, but us as well.”

The filing will trigger a union election to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which will be administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services; with over 26,000 eligible voters, it will be the largest union election in state history. Voting will take place by mail, with ballots expected to go out later this summer. Home care workers have been organizing to improve their jobs and Minnesota’s home care programs for years, and won the right to form a union under state law last year.



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.

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In Wake of Harris vs. Quinn, Minnesota Home Care Workers Vow to Continue Fighting For Good Jobs and Quality Home Care

Caregivers to work with State and consumers to ensure a strong voice for improving care in Minnesota

St. Paul, Minn – Home care workers and consumers vowed to continue standing up for quality home care in Minnesota in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today in the case of Harris v. Quinn regarding Illinois home care workers.

The ruling brought a strong response from both consumers and home care workers, the direct support staff who care for seniors and people with disabilities in their homes. Workers have been organizing to form a union to improve working conditions and care, and they remain united and more determined than ever following the decision.

Front of Supreme Court Building

“This ruling will not stop the home care workers in Minnesota who are joining together to form a union to raise our wages, have a voice on the job, and improve conditions in the healthcare field,” said Sumer Spika, a home care worker from St. Paul.  “Our state faces a looming workforce crisis in public home care programs, and this decision will not stop home care workers from fighting to ensure quality care for all Minnesotans. Forming a union will help workers while also protecting the rights of the elderly and people with disabilities by allowing them to remain in their homes.”

Home care leaders cited overwhelming support from fellow workers, consumers, and elected officials as part of their motivation to continue fighting for changes in the home care field.

“No court decision will change the fact that improving work conditions will help to protect the rights of the people we serve, and will save the state money by allowing Minnesotans to stay in their homes,” said Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from Brooklyn Park. “Home care workers in Minnesota are staying united and are prepared to work with consumers, advocates, and elected leaders in our state to ensure that workers have a strong voice in our fight for a strong home care system in our state.”

With the nation facing a long-term care crisis, the state needs to recruit and retain a stable, qualified workforce to meet the growing need for home care as the number of older Americans increases dramatically in the coming years. Consumers have been strong supporters of the campaign, noting that workers coming together for better wages and benefits help to stabilize the field.

“My family understands the challenges facing home care workers, and believes that workers need a unified voice that will come through forming a union. When workers have good wages and benefits, along with a say in their workplace, it helps to improve the stability of the workforce and improve care for families like mine,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a recipient of home care service. “We will work with the home care workers and the state to make sure that all of our work to improve the home care program in Minnesota continues to move forward.”


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.

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Hamline University Adjuncts Vote to Join SEIU in Landmark Union Election

Overwhelming victory builds momentum for upcoming vote at the University of St. Thomas, marks first vote for private school in Minnesota as adjuncts join rapidly growing national union movement

St. Paul – In a victory for adjunct faculty across the nation, Hamline University adjuncts in St. Paul have voted overwhemlingly to join part-time faculty at Northeastern University, Georgetown University and thousands of instructors nationwide in a rapidly growing union movement.

Adjunct ActionThe victory marks the first time that adjunct faculty at a private Twin Cities-area university have formed a union in their quest to improve higher education for students and faculty. Hamline adjuncts will join SEIU Local 284 as part of the Adjunct Action campaign after votes for the all-mail ballot election were counted at the Minneapolis office of the National Labor Relations Board this morning. 72% of the valid ballots counted voted yes to forming the union.

David Weiss is an adjunct faculty in the Religion department at Hamline and spoke about why the win reflects a victory for the entire Hamline community.

After the vote count was announced, he stated, “This is a great day for faculty, students, and the whole Hamline community. It was clear in this campaign that for adjuncts in Minnesota, our time is now. By coming together to address the low pay and lack of benefits and stability for adjunct faculty, we are taking steps to strengthen all of higher education for students and faculty alike. I’m confident that our success today will help empower other workers, including adjunct faculty like ourselves at schools like St. Thomas, to change working and learning conditions in higher education.”

Jennifer Beckham teaches in the English department and spoke about the great opportunity this provides Hamline.

“We sent a letter to Provost Jensen expressing our interest in building a productive relationship that reflects our shared value in making Hamline a great place for faculty and students. Adjuncts have been energized by the support of tenured faculty, students, alumni, and community supporters throughout this process, and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

Minnesota adjuncts are joining a fast-growing union movement, as adjuncts come together to take on this crisis in higher education that has turned what was once a good middle-class profession into a low-wage, no-benefits job without any job security from semester to semester. Now their vision is to take this work a step further – to unite adjunct faculty market wide, and across the country – because this crisis in higher education will not be solved one school at a time.


Adjunct Action is a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s largest and fastest growing union and home to over 20,000 unionized part-time and contingent college and university faculty who have won improvements in pay, job security, evaluation processes, and access to retirement benefits.

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Report Finds Continued Problems at MSP Airport for Air Travelers with Disabilities

Better training, increased staffing, and higher wages needed to improve service

Minneapolis, MN – A report released today, titled Able, But Not Willinglooks at the continued problems with air travel faced by passengers with disabilities, even forty years after a federal law was enacted to address these problems. The report finds that despite being fined twice in the last ten years by the Department of Transportation, Delta Airlines continues to fail in meeting the needs of travelers with disabilities, especially at the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Airport. According to the report, over half of the wheelchair agents surveyed at MSP have had passengers miss flights due to delays in wheelchair service.

Delta Airlines contracts with a separate company to provide wheelchair and electric cart services to seniors and passengers with disabilities. Last fall, Delta hired a new contractor to improve services and announced that the contractor would arrange for there to be one wheelchair attendant for each passenger who requires assistance. However, workers report that this is not the case.

 “The worst is when you go to a gate and there are several passengers who need wheelchair service, but I’m the only one there. I have to decide whether to wait there until other wheelchairs arrive or just take one passenger. But passengers get upset at me if I just take one person,” said Darcy Landau, a wheelchair attendant at the airport. “I’ve heard Delta employees complaining because they can see that we are not providing one-on-one service.”

 Landau is one of several hundred non-union workers who are paid $7.25 an hour with no benefits and are currently attempting to organize with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, who released the report.

Federal law requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel where needed.  Airlines are also required to train workers in the proper and safe operation of equipment used with passengers with a disability. The report points out that Delta needs to improve the training it provides so that workers can provide the service to which travelers with disabilities are legally entitled.

 “When I pay for an airline ticket I expect that the workers who are helping me have been trained and are given the support they need to do their job well,” said Jim Lovold, a traveler who uses a wheelchair and is active with ADAPT, a grass-roots community organization that fights for disability rights.

 State agencies have also taken notice of this issue, with Minnesota State Council on Disability Executive Director Joan Willshire highlighting the need for change.

 “Passengers with disabilities must be treated with respect when using airline travel.  It is apparent that Delta has not invested in the training, incentives or staffing levels that are needed to adequately assist passengers with disabilities.  In case after case, passengers with disabilities are having difficulty accessing the planes, are left waiting at gates for assistance or left on the actual airplane and then find that their mobility equipment has been damaged during flight,” stated Willshire. “This is especially troubling given that, as a large section of our society ages, the need for assistance will only grow.   People with disabilities are paying customers and need to be treated with dignity. It’s imperative that Delta take our concerns seriously and provide passengers with disabilities a higher quality, nondiscriminatory traveling experience.”

 The report included several recommendations to improve services, such as: proper training, maintaining an adequate staffing level to ensure that passengers with disabilities do not need to wait an excessive amount of time, and paying a living wage to workers who serve passengers with disabilities.

Leaders in the disability rights community, workers, and allies will be coming together at the airport on Monday, June 16th to demand action during the monthly Metropolitan Airport Commission public meeting.

Read the full report HERE.



SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 225,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2.1 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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SEIU Leaders Congratulate CTUL Retail Cleaning Workers on Breakthrough Victory For Workers at Target Stores

Applaud announcement that Target Corporation changes course to implement workers’ rights policy in contracted cleaning at stores

MINNEAPOLIS, June 10, 2014 – SEIU leaders congratulated the workers organizing with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) after their announcement that Target Corporation has adopted a breakthrough policy that will protect the rights of sub-contracted janitors who clean retail stores in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metropolitan area. (more…)

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Macalester Contingent Faculty Announce Union Election Filing

Joined by students and Rep. Keith Ellison in capping off ‘Contingent Faculty Appreciation Week’

macSt. Paul, Minn – Adjunct and contingent faculty at Macalester College in St. Paul announced today that they have filed for their union election to join Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 as part of the national Adjunct Action campaign. The faculty announced the filing at an event with students and Congressman Keith Ellison that capped off a student-led “Contingent Faculty Appreciation Week.”

Adjunct and contingent faculty spoke of why they are organizing and how a union will give them a voice to improve higher education for both faculty and students.

“We’re coming together because we love our jobs. Right now, contingent faculty are vulnerable because we have no say in determining our contracts,” said SooJin Pate, an adjunct faculty at Macalster. “We believe that having a voice in the decision-making process that affects our lives will not only make us better professors, but will also strengthen the educational mission of the college, making this a better place for our students.”

Macalester students organized multiple events this week to show their support for contingent faculty and spoke at the event Thursday as to why adjunct and contingent faculty forming a union will benefit students on campus.

“The working conditions of adjunct and contingent faculty have a direct impact on my college education – when they need to go between multiple jobs to support themselves, I lose out because the majority of my Macalester experience comes from interacting with professors outside the classroom,” said Leewana Thomas, a Macalester student who joined the faculty at the press conference. “Some of my favorite professors are contingent faculty members, so of course I support their efforts to strengthen Macalester for both students and faculty.”

At the event Congressman Keith Ellison voiced his support for the students and faculty fighting to improve higher education, and shared a public letter he wrote in support of the faculty that stated his hope that Macalester administration would “take the ‘higher ground’ by committing to a position of neutrality and non-interference” with the faculty’s decision to organize.

Adjunct faculty, now the majority of teaching faculty across the country, typically have no job security, no benefits and low pay that forces adjuncts to string together jobs at multiple colleges and universities to make ends meet. At the same time, revenues and tuition have increased steadily over the last two decades while spending on instruction has declined – and it’s adjuncts and their deeply-in-debt students who are suffering as a result.




SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, their own 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.

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