Labor Movement

Airport Workers Vote Overwhelmingly to Authorize ULP Strike at MSP

No date set, but workers demand action as we head towards busy Labor Day weekend

Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport –  After countless setbacks because of employer recalcitrance, airport workers fighting for $15 and the right to form a union at MSP voted overwhelmingly to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice strike if no progress is made with their employer to end retaliation and win better work conditions and the right to form a union.  Airport workers announced the results at a meeting of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), and held signs saying they were “Ready to Strike.” No date was set for a possible strike, but workers showed that they are tired of retaliation and low pay, and hope to see movement by the busy Labor Day weekend. (more…)

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Union Files Formal Complaint on Mayo Outsourcing Plan, Highlight Apparent Conflict of Interest by Executive

Call for full public investigation and reversal of outsourcing decision

Rochester, Minn — SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the union that represents many of the food service workers that Mayo wants to outsource to a multi-national corporation, filed a formal complaint Monday regarding an apparent conflict of interest that was not disclosed when Mayo announced the plan on June 30th. The formal complaint, called a “grievance,” was filed with Mayo on Monday, August 1st. (more…)

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Home Care Workers and Clients Express Outrage That Governor and Legislature Ignore Care Crisis

St. Paul — Despite clear evidence of a crisis facing home care workers and the seniors and people with disabilities they serve, the governor and legislature chose not to fund desperately needed overtime pay for home care workers this legislative session. This failure to support families across the state came despite months of advocacy from home care workers and clients. The funding would have helped provide the care needed for thousands of families across the state to stay in their homes, since thousands of workers’ hours were capped at 40 late last year. It also was a step needed to bring the state into compliance with federal law, under new Fair Labor Standards Act rules that went into effect in October 2015.

Caregiver crisis_1463269145509_2280856_ver1.0-2Sumer Spika, a mother and home care worker from St. Paul, highlighted why ignoring this crisis is such an outrage.

“With hours currently capped at 40, many home care workers have had to cut back hours of clients we care for, creating a situation that is harmful to their care and puts them at risk of having to leave their homes,” said Spika, a member and Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota . “We do this work because we love helping people be able to stay in their homes. We also need, as workers, to be able to provide for our families. We often say that home care workers have come together to be ‘Invisible No More,’ but the governor and legislators are treating both home care workers and the seniors and people with disabilities we serve as invisible, ignoring their duty to fix this crisis.”

“This situation was created in the 1930s, when racism and sexism led elected officials to exclude care jobs, done predominantly by women of color, from the basic rights of workers established as part of the New Deal. Now, with continued inaction, thousands of families across the state will have to face the effects of this crisis. We  are profoundly disappointed by this failure of duty, and this will only serve to motivate us to fight harder against discrimination – against people with disabilities and seniors, against women, and against people of color — and for the basic rights we as workers deserve.”

Home care consumers shared the frustration of home care workers that elected officials ignored this crisis.

“I’m so disappointed that the governor and legislature refused to listen to our voices and allocate the funding needed to support families like mine. Home care workers provide the support I need so I can live an independent life, and the hour cap is making that very difficult if not impossible for me and my family,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a home care client from Maplewood. “Thousands of additional families are discovering each year the need for quality home care. By neglecting to address this crisis, elected officials have only made things worse. We will continue to advocate for making home care jobs as strong as they can be, so that everyone who wants to stay in their home gets the care they deserve.”

 

Home care workers will begin working this summer on priorities for their next contract, which will be negotiated beginning this fall with the State of Minnesota.

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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.

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Praise Dismissal of Latest Anti-Union Lawsuit

St. Paul — This morning the United States Supreme Court refused to grant cert in Greene vs. Dayton, the latest defeat for anti-union organizations trying to undermine the right of home care workers in Minnesota to continue their democratically elected Union.

Robin Pikala, a mother from Fridley who is a home care worker, released the following statement:

“I am happy that yet another lawsuit trying to stop home care workers coming together was dismissed today. No matter how many times they try, we will not let any ideological attacks stop us from our goal of making sure ever person who wants to stay in their home receives the care they deserve,” said Pikala, a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “While extremist groups continue their attempts to move us backwards, we will keep fighting for things like an end to the cap on hours that seniors and people with disabilities are facing right now that is causing issues for thousands of families across the state. We know that we have a lot of work to do to create the state we want to live in. We will continue that fight until we win our goals, no matter what roadblocks anti-worker groups try to throw in our way.”

 

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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.

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SEIU Minnesota Statement on Minneapolis Earned Sick and Safe Ordinance Introduction

Minneapolis, Minn — This morning the Minneapolis City Council introduced language for an Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance at their Committee of the Whole hearing. Following the hearing, SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Director Brian Elliott, who was a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that provided the recommendation for the ordinance, released the following statement:

“SEIU members have fought for years both through their union and through their elected officials to ensure no one has to choose between the health of their family and the paycheck they need to cover rent, food and other basic needs. I am proud to have worked with business leaders large and small, workers who currently lack sick time and community groups as a member of the Workplace Partnership Group that spent dozens of hours coming to the compromise we resoundingly supported with a 13-1 vote.

“I am glad the Council took our compromise as a basis for this policy, and will continue to advocate for language that makes certain we aren’t leaving any families behind. I am hopeful the Council will get this policy in place as soon as possible and cover every worker in our city so we can finally address the crisis of nearly 42% of workers in Minneapolis not having access to any paid sick time. Passing a strong Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance will be a positive step to address our city’s racial disparities and will make our city stronger for both workers and business.”

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes 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 the approximately 53,000 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 five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Mayo Clinic Health System-Albert Lea Hospital Workers Hold Second Informational Picket Outside of Hospital As Contract Negotiations Continue to Stall

Workers and community supporters highlight contract proposals that could harm workers, hospital and the community

Albert Lea, MN – Monday evening, outside of the Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital, dozens of maintenance workers and community supporters held an informational picket to highlight stalled contract negotiations because of proposals made by Mayo that could set back workers, the hospital and the community. The workers, who are members of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, highlighted their concerns on the public sidewalk outside of the hospital as they continue their attempts to reach a fair contract agreement. The picket followed an initial informational picket in November of 2015, and saw strong support from hospital workers who are members of other unions, including Minnesota Nurses Association, AFSCME Council 65, Albert Lea Education Association, Southeast Area Labor Center and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

AlbertLea_Info_Picket_rsWorkers at the picket included Henry Tews, a maintenance engineer who has worked at the hospital for 26 years, who highlighted what changes proposed by the hospital would mean for both workers and the community.

“Like our last picket, we are here today to show that we are willing to fight for what is right for Albert Lea. Having a safe, well-run hospital is important to patients, and having decent jobs in our community is important to everyone in and around Albert Lea. That is why other hospital employees are out here and have been wearing stickers in support of our fight, because we know that our fight is just the first if we don’t stop them from taking us backwards,” said Tews. “We are ready to sit down at the bargaining table and reach an agreement with the hospital so we can continue to provide the service needed to make our hospital great. Unfortunately, Mayo executives won’t budge on their offer.”

The maintenance workers at Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea Hospital are the first unit of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members to bargain this round with Mayo, and they have held over 10 negotiation sessions over the last seven months. Many points of agreement have been reached, but workers continued to expressed frustration over proposed language that takes away the voice of longtime workers.

Another maintenance worker at the picket was Gary Wichmann, who has worked at the Albert Lea Hospital for 10 years. 

“We were excited to see such a great crowd today and be joined by Union brothers and sisters from AFSCME, the Minnesota Nurses Association and others. Today showed that the workers               who make the hospital run are standing together for a stronger Albert Lea and Mayo system. It is huge that we are all out here together to show our unity,” said Wichmann. “We’re ready to get a fair contract settled, and we hope Mayo will come to the negotiating table to get that done. This is too important to back down, and we are prepared to continue this fight as long as is needed for what is right.”

Negotiations began in August of 2015. There are currently no new negotiation sessions planned.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Minnesota Nursing Home Workers Join National “Fight for $15” to Raise Wages and Improve Quality of Care

Dozens rally just days after new report highlights how low pay and poor working conditions are exacerbating “care gap” for Baby Boomer population

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Roseville, Minn – Just hours after fast food workers went on strike across the Twin Cities, on the heels of New York and California both passing a $15 minimum wage, Minnesota nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who are currently bargaining contracts with Golden Living Center (GLC) rallied at the GLC Lakeridge site in Roseville for higher wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities. Last week alone, nearly 5,000 Pennsylvania nursing home workers won a path to a $15 hourly wage through their union. Working people in Minnesota are coming together to win a similar victory.

Speaking at the event was longtime GLC Lakeridge employee Tim Sorenson, a CNA and steward with SEIU Healthcare MN, who highlighted how seniors and people with disabilities pay the price when the workers are paid low wages that aren’t enough to support their family.

“We care for your grandfathers, grandmothers, parents, sons, daughters and friends, yet we are paid so little that many people working in nursing homes have to rely on public assistance to survive,” said Sorenson. “The instability caused by poverty wages and low staffing levels means higher turnover and more people getting hurt on the job. We want better care for the people we serve, and that means wages that both bring in and keep good people on the job. That is why we are having this rally today and why we are joining the Fight for $15 as part of our current contract negotiations!”

As the national movement of fast food, child care, home care and airport workers grows, nursing home workers, among the most underpaid working women and men in the country,  are joining to stand up to the corporate greed that is keeping wages low and failing our communities. SEIU nursing home members are taking action today in more than 40 cities in 16 states, calling for fair wages and quality care for seniors and people with disabilities who depend upon nursing home care.  There are strikes in a number of states, including in Florida where 2,000 nursing home workers will go on a 24-hour strike at 19 Consulate Healthcare facilities, the largest healthcare strike in the Southeast in more than a decade.

The events come just days after a new report highlighted the crisis facing care work. Key findings from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) report, Raise the Floor: Quality Nursing Home Care Depends on Quality Jobs, released Tuesday include:

  • In Minnesota, CNAs earn a median hourly wage of $12.22, taking home so little that as many as 33% rely on public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid.
  • As a result of low pay, insufficient staffing levels, high injury rates, and limited on-the-job support, nursing home employers can neither recruit nor retain qualified nursing assistants.
  • The average turnover rates for nursing assistants exceeded 50 percent in 2012 and are expected to climb as there are more opportunities for higher-paying jobs with better working conditions.
  • The cumulative growth in the number of women and men over the age of 85 will exceed that of the working-age population by more than 10 times over the next 45 years, creating a “care gap” crisis.
  • Nationally:
    • 91 percent of nursing assistants are women; 53 percent are people of color.
    • Nursing assistants earn median hourly wage of $11.51 and annual earnings of $19,000. Real wages for CNAs have decreased by 7 percent in the last decade.
    • 1 in 3 CNAs relies on taxpayer-funded public benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid.

According to PHI, nursing assistants and workers providing laundry, food and housekeeping services are undervalued and underpaid, often viewed “as a cost to be managed rather than an asset to invest.” Keeping the wage floor low leads to half of nursing home workers leaving their positions each year and adds to the gap in available trained long term care providers.

Today, more than 1.3 million older Americans and people with disabilities reside in nursing homes and the rapidly aging population will create an explosive demand for long term care services. Ten thousand women and men turn 65 every day, and the numbe r of older Americans in greatest need of 24-hour care in a nursing home setting—women and men over the age of 85—is poised to nearly triple by 2050.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

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Twin Cities Janitors Win Tentative Agreement on New Contract

After months of fighting, contract wins $15 for thousands of janitors, the largest wage increases in decades, concrete steps to address workload crisis, healthcare improvements and more

Minneapolis, Minn – In their 18th negotiation session, after 12 hours of bargaining that started Sunday afternoon and ended after 1 a.m. Monday morning, janitors and their employers reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract. With the tentative agreement, which will be brought to the membership this weekend for approval, janitors won big gains following their 24-hour ULP strike, civil disobedience and countless rallies and marches with supporters. Full background on the contract campaign at bottom. 

Janitor_Contact_rsBrahim Kone, a janitor from St. Paul and leader on the bargaining team, highlighted why janitors were so excited with the agreement and why they are advocating for members to vote yes on the contract.

“This was a hard fight, but we were fighting for a better life for our families and a step forward on rolling back racial disparities in our state, and the bargaining team is so proud of the final result that we are bringing back to the full membership” said Kone, a father of three. “Alongside many other important wins, we won the largest raise in decades for Twin Cities janitors, moving full time workers like myself over $15 immediately, and for the first time we won steps forward on addressing our workload crisis. This is a big win for our union, and a big win for our community. Janitors stood together through many months to win what is right, and we are so excited for this victory.”

Lucia Guaman, a janitor who works for Harvard cleaning RBC Plaza in Minneapolis, highlighted why the groundbreaking wins on workload are so important to janitors with SEIU.

“Winning new policies about workload, including walkthroughs with union stewards and a plan to do a worker-centered third-party study about the real challenges facing janitors so we can end this workload crisis once and for all, are huge wins for janitors and our families,” said Guaman. “My supervisor once told me, when I brought up our increasing workload, to ‘vacuum with one hand, mop with the other and dust with your mouth.’ No one deserves this treatment, but people were intimidated to discuss workload or even report when they get injured. Now we have an avenue to fix this crisis, and we hope this means we no longer will hear stories about janitors too hurt and sore from work to play with their children. We have been fighting to live, not just survive, and this is a huge step towards that goal.”

Members of the union will vote on the full proposal this weekend.

Main contract wins include:

1.  Largest Janitorial Wage Increases in Over 20 years

  • Over 60% of all janitors will immediately get raises to over $15/hour
  • All full time janitors will receive raises of $.50, $.50, $.40, $.40
  • Full timers will reach $16.42 by the end of the 4 year contract, a 12.3% increase from current wages
  • Part timers will receive the same 12.3% increase

2.  Historic New Workload Protections 

  • Worker-centered enforcement through worksite reviews and walkthroughs of janitor’s workloads
  • A groundbreaking professional study through the University of Minnesota on the workload problems in our worksites, developed through an industry wide committee

3.  Expanded Part Time Benefits

  • For the first time part-time janitors will receive full healthcare benefits and will have paid sick days

4.  Improved Benefits for Full time Janitors 

  • Healthcare benefits improved, low premiums protected and disability pay increased

5.  Better Job Security

  • Prevented boss proposal to cut full time positions in the market
  • Janitors won a “just cause” clause for the first time, which means they cannot fire janitors without reason

6.  Other Wins 

  • Company must make “good faith effort to accommodate” workers who want to take New Years Eve or Eid off from work on paid time
  • Protections of benefits when buildings switch contractors
  • A better process for accessing earned vacation time

Background on contract negotiations for janitors: On February 17th the janitors with SEIU Local 26 walked off the job on a 24-hour ULP strike, and on February 25th 11 janitors and allies took arrest in peaceful civil disobedience at U.S. Bank Headquarters. The sub-contractors who employ the janitors to clean some of the most prominent and wealthy buildings in the state held 18 negotiation sessions with janitors starting in October of 2015, including multiple marathon sessions that lasted over 10 hours. The janitors in SEIU Local 26 are over 90% people of color, so fair pay and benefits have an immediate impact on the communities most impacted by our state’s racial and economic disparities, some of the worst in the country.

 

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                                    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 375,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

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Union Leaders and People of Color Union Members Highlight Support for Janitors Contract Fight

As bargaining continues, labor movement shows solidarity with janitors days ahead of new strike deadline

Minneapolis, Minn – Union leaders from the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MLRF), including The People of Color Union Member (POCUM) Caucus, spoke out today to highlight their support for the janitors of SEIU Local 26. The janitors have announced a new strike deadline for Monday, March 7th, after which they could call a strike if there continues to be no progress in negotiations. These events come just weeks after POCUM and the MRLF convened the AFL-CIO’s National Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to Minneapolis, for a two-day event focused on increasing racial equity in the labor movement and labor’s involvement in racial justice issues. At the press conference, which also included representatives from the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFSCME, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters and many other unions, the speakers brought up the racial disparities faced by janitors and other workers in the Minneapolis economy.

Cathy Jones, a leader of POCUM and a union letter carrier, spoke at the event and shared why this fight is so important in the fight to start addressing and rolling back racial disparities in our state.

“We completely stand in solidarity with our brother and sister janitors at SEIU Local 26. This campaign is about living wages and racial equity. Workers of color are demanding better in this city and this is something we should all stand behind,” said Jones. “By not having a fair contract, janitors could announce a strike if they don’t get a fair offer by Monday. We hope it doesn’t have to go there, but we stand with them if they do.”

Another POCUM leader, Silvia Gonzalez a union electrician, connected the recent Racial and Economic Justice forum in Minnesota to the current fight by SEIU Local 26 janitors, 90% of whom are people of color.

“We are on the heels of the national AFL-CIO Commission on Racial and Economic Justice held just last month. We (POCUM) are leading an effort for equity in the workplace and stand in solidarity with the SEIU 26 janitors who are demanding a fair contract and putting their livelihoods on the line to fight for better working conditions,” said Gonzalez.

Joining POCUM leaders were labor members and leaders from Minneapolis and St. Paul, including the President of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, who shared the broad support the janitors have from the Twin Cities labor movement.

“The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, the labor movement and the entire workers movement stand with our janitors. The workers who clean our offices and workplaces are often invisible to our day to day lives– but, they are not invisible in our movement,” sad Glaubitz. “In February we unanimously enacted strike sanctions for the 1-day strike on behalf of our union janitors and our non-union retail janitors. We will support our janitors and all workers who are fighting for dignity and family-sustaining wages—even with the possibility of an open-ended strike looming in the near future.”

POCUM_Janitor_20160302_rs

Photo Courtesy of Union Advocate

Also speaking at the event was janitor and leader of the bargaining team Brahim Kone, who shared updates on bargaining and thanked POCUM and the labor movement for the support as the union continues the fight for a fair contract that supports families and begins to roll back our state’s harmful racial and economic inequalities.

Background on contract negotiations for janitors: On February 17th the janitors with SEIU Local 26 walked off the job on a 24-hour ULP strike, and on February 25th 11 janitors and allies took arrest in peaceful civil disobedience at U.S. Bank Headquarters as they’ve continued their calls for a fair wages, a solution to a growing workload crisis (many janitors clean the equivalent of over 20 homes per night) and benefits that support healthy families. The sub-contractors who employ the janitors to clean some of the most prominent and wealthy buildings in the state have so far refused to offer anything near a fair deal in the 13 bargaining sessions they have held since October of 2015, including a marathon 23-hour session Friday to Saturday Feb. 26-27. The janitors in SEIU Local 26 are over 90% people of color, so fair pay and benefits would have an immediate impact on the communities most impacted by our state’s racial and economic disparities, some of the worst in the country. After months of negotiating, janitors set a new strike deadline for March 7th if no contract is reached.

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Minnesota Epilepsy Group Healthcare Workers Approve New Contract That Establishes $15 Minimum Wage

The healthcare workers have ratified a new three-year deal with a landmark increase to $15 an hour minimum wage

St. Paul, Minn – SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at the Minnesota Epilepsy Group (MEG), a comprehensive adult and pediatric epilepsy program which has cared for over 15,000 people in the last three years alone, ratified a new 3-year contract that, among other big gains, establishes a $15 per hour minimum wage for the first time for all SEIU members at the St. Paul-based specialty healthcare provider. The $15 wage is a huge step and comes as the national Fight for $15 movement is growing across the country. 

Glenn Livezey is an EEG Tech at MEG and a union steward for SEIU Healthcare MN. He spoke about why the bargaining team pressed for reaching the goal of $15 by the end of the contract for every worker.

“At a time when more and more jobs are low-wage jobs that cannot even begin to support a family, it is clear that $15 is a level that all workplaces should be striving for as a bottom line. Setting a floor at $15 is good for staff and good for the people we care for because it will mean less turnover and more stability for those who come to our clinic for care,” said Livezey. “We are proud that our members stood together to reach this goal, and believe it will strengthen the work we do at MEG. When people start at a fair wage, and go up accordingly, they can stay on the job and learn to use their skills and experience to provide the best care possible to everyone who walks through our doors. We hope this win can help spread the message that fair wages and benefits are possible if people stick together and fight for what is right.”

Management at MEG also praised the deal as a way ensure that great staff are recruited and retained at MEG.

“We are truly very happy with the course and outcome of our negotiations,” said Steve Cohen, CEO of the Minnesota Epilepsy Group. “MEG’s management team felt a real spirit of collaboration with the bargaining unit negotiators, especially with regard to a shared desire to see a $15 minimum. We are in complete agreement that respected, fairly compensated staff members will provide the best service for the people we care for.”

Ward 2 St. Paul City Council Member Rebecca Noecker, in whose Ward MEG’s primary location is based, praised the workers and managements coming together to hit a $15 minimum wage for MEG workers.

“I am glad to see labor and the private sector working together to achieve their shared goals in Ward 2. When employers ensure that their employees earn enough to live in and enjoy our city, all of us benefit.  MEG should be commended for making such a bold move toward equity in our community.”

The contract represents approximately 50 EEG technicians who serve in MEG’s two clinics as well as in the four area hospitals in which MEG operates. The members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota ratified the contract late on Friday, February 26th with 97% of the votes approving the contract. It is a three year contract that will be effective as of January 1, 2016.

 

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

www.seiuhcmn.org

Minnesota Epilepsy Group is a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest level awarded by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.  As a Level 4 center MEG provides a level of care that leads to better outcomes for patients, better lifetime management, and better services for all those affected by epilepsy.

www.mnepilepsy.org

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