Press Releases

After Tumultuous End to Legislative Session, Home Care Workers Celebrate Ratification of New Agreement – And Resolve to Fight for Full Funding to be Restored

New union contract raises pay floor, increases paid time off, grants holiday pay for the first time, funds training, and more, to help address care crisis facing seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota

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Care workers and clients express frustration at anti-union group who attacked care workers, leading to a cut of half of the desperately needed funding, vow to continue fight to solve the state’s care crisis

Saint Paul — Home care workers and the state of Minnesota reached a new agreement for a union contract that covers approximately 27,000 Minnesota home care workers, with union members ratifying the contract Monday evening after a week of voting. The new contract will go into effect on July 1st.  The two sides had to negotiate a new contract after elected officials cut funding in half for the previous tentative agreement in the final Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus budget bill that was passed by the State House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Dayton late last month.

2015 Scott_VivianThe decrease in funding, which will slow the work being done to address the care crisis facing seniors and people with disabilities across Minnesota, came after repeated attacks on care workers and their clients from anti-union attorney Doug Seaton and the Center of the American Experiment. In legislative testimony, these groups – which have run a large-scale campaign since last summer to stop the union from negotiating a new agreement – advocated that legislators vote down raises and new benefits for home care workers. In expressing their anger at the reduction in funding that came as a result of these anti-union groups’ attacks, home care workers vowed to continue their fight next session, to restore funding to address the care crisis in Minnesota.

“So many good people all across the state worked hard pushing our elected officials to address the care crisis that is harming thousands of families like mine. Home care workers and clients like me negotiated in good faith earlier this year, but at the very end of the legislative session politicians decided to only fund half of what we had agreed to with the state, which is incredibly frustrating,” said Jim Carlisle, a home care client who counts on care for himself and his wife to be able to stay in their home. “We made some important steps forward in this new agreement, but the crisis in our state is well beyond the point where any half-measures will suffice.”

“This is, without exaggeration, a life or death situation for someone like me who relies on quality caregivers to get out of bed and do basic tasks like eating and leaving my house,” Carlisle continued.  “I’m proud we won the gains we did, but we are still a long way from where we need to be. What we’ve proven over the last few months is that we won’t let any attacks or setbacks stop us. We will fight to ensure every person who needs care has access to quality caregivers.”

Despite the challenges of fighting frivolous lawsuits and attacks from deep-pocketed special interest groups, union members expressed pride in the tireless effort put forward by people across the state to bring attention to the care crisis.

“Progress simply would not have happened without our union. We are so happy that we have a collective voice in this critical fight,” said Yasmine Soud Reynolds, a home care worker from White Bear Lake. “By coming together as home care workers, family members and clients from across the state, we have made it clear to everyone that we will be invisible no more. Because we worked together and told our stories, we had a group of legislators from both political parties author the bills to ratify and fund the original agreement we reached with the state in January. When some union-busting lawyers tried to block that bipartisan support for the wage and benefit improvements we so desperately need, the only reason we were able to resist their efforts and still make progress through this new agreement is that we stayed united. They were able to get elected officials to reduce the funding, but they weren’t able to stop us from moving forward.  We’ll be back next session to keep pushing for our state to address the care crisis, starting with restoring the funding lawmakers just cut.”

With the funding cut in half, the union’s bargaining team of workers, parents and clients had to go back to the bargaining table and reach a new agreement with the state, after engaging thousands of members in a difficult discussion of how to balance priorities. The new agreement was ratified after a week of voting that ended Monday evening.

Provisions of the new contract include:

  • A $1 an hour increase to the minimum wage for home care workers (the new floor is $12)
  • Time-and-a-half pay for workers who take care of their clients on five holidays, a benefit no home care workers in the state have had before
  • An increase in the amount of Paid Time Off home care workers earn
  • Training stipends for 5,000 workers who take voluntary trainings to build their skills in order to provide higher quality care
  • An online matching registry to help address the struggle clients face when trying to find quality care workers to bring into their homes
  • A 5% additional increase for those who work for the highest-need clients (defined as those who qualify for 12 or more hours per day of in-home care)

While proud of the gains, Delores Flynn, whose 46-year-old son Scott needs full time care after suffering a major brain hemorrhage, vowed that families will be back next session to demand that the funding lawmakers cut be restored

We will continue to fight until every Minnesotan who needs care has access to the quality care they need to stay in their home. We expect politicians to do right by restoring the funding they cut,” said Flynn, who lives in Roseville. “There is a crisis happening across our state. If this crisis hasn’t touched you or someone you love yet, it will. When it does, you will realize that this isn’t an issue we can ignore. With the coming wave of baby boomers who will want quality care to stay in their homes, this crisis is only going to grow if it is not truly addressed. Care work should not be a political issue, but it is frustrating that money desperately needed by our families was caught up in political games. We cannot risk having people with disabilities and seniors go without the care they need due to the chronic shortage of workers. It is far more expensive to care for people in a facility than it is providing care for them in their homes. Elected officials from all parties should make restoring the home care funding they cut the very first bill they pass when they come back to St. Paul.”

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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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Adjunct Faculty at St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) File for Union Election to Join SEIU Local 284

Adjunct faculty at St. Paul university join wave of organizing in Twin Cities to improve higher education for students and faculty

St. Paul Adjunct faculty at St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) filed cards this morning to trigger a union election to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284. The election would cover around 100 adjunct faculty. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will schedule the election for this summer unless there are objections from St. Kate’s administration. (more…)

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Minnesota Custodian Wins RISE (Recognizing Inspiring School Employees) Award, To Be Honored at Ceremony in Washington D.C.

Award winner will join school staff from across the nation today at a ceremony held at U.S. Botanic Garden

Washington D.C – Mike Poke, a custodian in the Wayzata Public Schools and member of SEIU Local 284, will be honored in Washington D.C. today as one of the 2017 Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award winners. The award is being given to five individuals from across the country who are doing extraordinary and inspirational things in their schools and communities to promote quality education, foster positive learning environments, and ensure student success.

mike_poke_NCCESEU_20170503Poke is joining four other award recipients, along with distinguished guests, at a ceremony in Washington D.C. at the United States Botanic Garden later this afternoon.

Mike Poke is a custodian in the Wayzata Schools in Minnesota. He is a member and elected officer on the Executive Board of SEIU Local 284, a union of almost 9,000 school staff across Minnesota. Mike began as what he calls a “regular custodian,” working the overnight shift to make sure the school was ready for students in the morning. But that changed about eight years ago when he was moved to the day shift and began having the chance to interact with students in the school.

He got to know the kids, especially those he saw struggling, and became a mentor to many of them. Students and parents called him when things were bad to see if I could help get students back on track.

“I didn’t have someone to keep me motivated when I was a young student, so now I work hard to be that support system for students who need a helping hand,” said Poke. “My mother told me it is important to always give back, and I bring that mindset every day in my job. These kids are our future, so we need to invest in them any way we can. I do the work beyond my job duties because it makes me feel good to see people I help achieve their goals.”

The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU), a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees, gives the award. The award highlights the individual contributions of school staff and recognizes the essential role that all education professionals play in shaping our public schools.

There are more than 2.8 million classified education support employees in our nation’s public schools, colleges, and universities and they make up one-third of the public education workforce.  They ensure students achieve at their highest levels. They keep students fed, emotionally and physically healthy and safe, engaged and connected to the larger school community, and provide instruction and support that leads to academic success.

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The National Coalition of Classified Education Support Employee Unions (NCCESEU) is a coalition of state and national unions that together represent a million school support employees, including clerical and administrative staff, custodians, food service workers, health and student services workers, paraeducators, technology services employees, transportation workers, and security and skilled trades staff.

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SEIU Announces Third Wave of Minneapolis City Council Endorsements

Highlight candidates support of $15 Minimum Wage with No Tip Penalty amidst growing consensus on issue

Minneapolis — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, who bring together nearly 8,000 people represented by SEIU who live or work in Minneapolis, are proud to announce the third wave of endorsements for Minneapolis City Council. This follows their earlier endorsements in Wards 2, 5, 8, 9, 11 and Ward 10.

SEIU mn LogoAs with previous endorsements, strong support for a $15 minimum wage with One Fair Wage (no tip penalty) was a deciding factor in the endorsement as it shows whether candidates will stand up for working families in Minneapolis.

The Executive Board of the SEIU Minnesota State Council endorsed in the following races:

  • Steve Fletcher in Ward 3
  • Council Member Abdi Warsame in Ward 6
  • Council Member Andrew Johnson in Ward 12

SEIU Minnesota State Council President Jamie Gulley released the following statement about the latest round of endorsements, highlighting the wave of momentum for $15 and One Fair Wage.

“In screening potential candidates, SEIU members, like a majority of Minneapolis residents, have made abundantly clear their desire to see the minimum wage increased to $15 with no one left behind by carveouts like the tip penalty. Minneapolis winning this important fight would be a powerful step towards addressing the low wages facing too many working people, especially women and people of color.

“As we announce these endorsements, recent events like SEIU-endorsed Jeremiah Ellison winning the Ward 5 DFL endorsement are highlighting the new reality for Minneapolis candidates. It is clear that those who don’t strongly and publicly support this commonsense plan to address the racial and economic disparities in our city will struggle to find support from Minneapolis voters. Our families are tired of corporations and the wealthy getting everything they want from self-interested politicians, and people are standing up and fighting back. If elected officials aren’t ready to address what is needed in this moment, they should know that voters will find someone who will.”

SEIU is turning out members to Ward Conventions across Minneapolis to support SEIU-endorsed candidates and to push for the Council and Mayor to pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance with no tip penalty this summer. More endorsements in Minneapolis will be released this spring.

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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 workers SEIU represents 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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SEIU Announces Second Wave of Minneapolis City Council Endorsements Ahead of Precinct Caucuses

Minneapolis — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, who bring together nearly 8,000 people represented by SEIU who live or work in Minneapolis, are proud to announce the second wave of endorsements for Minneapolis City Council. Following their endorsement of Council Member Lisa Bender, five additional endorsements were announced today just ahead of the Minneapolis DFL precinct caucuses on April 4th.

SEIU mn Logo“In the age of Trump, working families in Minneapolis need progressive champions who will be fighters for positive, progressive change and will stand up to attacks on our families if and when they come. We are proud to roll out our second round of endorsements for the Minneapolis City Council for five outstanding candidates. We look forward to working hard to elect these champions so we can work together to address the harmful income and racial disparities in the city and make Minneapolis a city that works for all families, not just the rich and well-connected,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Minnesota State Council.

The Executive Board of the SEIU Minnesota State Council endorsed in the following races:

  • Council Member Cam Gordon in Ward 2
  • Jeremiah Ellison in Ward 5
  • Andrea Jenkins in Ward 8
  • Council Member Alondra Cano in Ward 9
  • Council Member John Quincy in Ward 11

SEIU is turning out members to precinct caucuses across Minneapolis on April 4th to support endorsed candidates and to push for the Council and Mayor to pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance with no tip penalty this summer. More endorsements in Minneapolis will be released this spring.

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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 workers SEIU represents 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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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Urges Governor Dayton to Veto Reinsurance Bill

St. Paul – Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, released the following statement urging Governor Dayton to veto the reinsurance bill following its passage in both the Minnesota House and Senate.

“The reinsurance bill that is headed to Governor Dayton’s desk is simply a $542 million taxpayer-funded giveaway to insurance companies with no guarantees of lower premiums for working families in Minnesota. Our members working in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and home care all across the state know that we need to lower healthcare costs for Minnesota families, but a bailout for corporate insurance companies is not a solution to the problem of rising healthcare costs.

“Why have the insurance companies refused to provide even the basic assurances Governor Dayton asked them for, promising to pass these taxpayer funds along directly to policy-holders and promising that they won’t just take the money and run from the individual health insurance market? Why aren’t we extending affordable, high-quality MinnesotaCare coverage as an option to the Minnesota families facing high premiums and deductibles? SEIU Healthcare Minnesota urges Governor Dayton to veto this bill and for lawmakers to go back to the drawing board to find a real solution to the rising healthcare costs in 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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SEIU Endorses Council Member Lisa Bender

Minneapolis — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council announced today the endorsement of Lisa Bender, who currently is serving her first term as Council Member for Ward 10 in Minneapolis.

LisaBenderWard 10 voter Kevin Chavis, who is a security officer in Minneapolis, member of SEIU Local 26, and an elected delegate to the State Council, shared why SEIU decided to offer an early endorsement to Bender.

“We are proud to offer a early endorsement to Council Member Lisa Bender because she has proven to be a true champion for working families in our Ward. She fought tirelessly for and helped unanimously pass earned sick and safe time for tens of thousands of families in Minneapolis, held the first “Workers’ Day” in Minneapolis that offered working people the chance to have their voices heard at City Hall, and she is a strong advocate for $15 minimum wage with no tip penalty, something we know will be a huge step to addressing the racial and economic disparities that plague our city. Lisa works tirelessly to build coalitions and find solutions to the issues facing our city. I am excited SEIU will be supporting her for a second term on the Minneapolis City Council and look forward to continuing to have such a strong champion as my City Council Member.”

More endorsements in Minneapolis will be released later this spring.

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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 four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Home Care Workers Vote to Ratify Contract

St. Paul — Home care workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract their bargaining team of both workers and clients who rely on home care services negotiated with the State of Minnesota. The mail ballots were counted Thursday night, with over 93% of votes cast in favor of the contract, which includes a $2/hour increase in the wage floor, new training opportunities to improve the quality of care clients receive, and other steps forward for a group of workers that voted to unionize in 2014.

2015 Scott_VivianNow that the workers have ratified the contract, it will go to the legislature for ratification. The final step would be having it signed by Governor Dayton.

Home care worker Dawn Burnfin from Chisholm released the following statement after the votes were counted:

“Home care workers, and the seniors and people with disabilities we care for, know our state is facing a care crisis. The low wages and lack of benefits have meant Minnesota families have not been able to receive the care they deserve. Our contract, which increases wages and paid time off, gives PCA’s time and half on two holidays a year, and makes real investments in training, will be a huge step in improving the lives of tens of thousands of Minnesota families, in every town small and large across the state by not only making sure that PCA’s aren’t having to choose between coming to work sick or not being able to support their family. It also shows that we appreciate the sacrifices they make and legitimizes the PCA profession.

“We know that legislators in both parties understand the need to care for vulnerable seniors and the disabled. That is why two years ago our contract had a strong set of authors from both parties. We look forward to talking to our Senators and Representatives to make sure they understand the vital importance of passing this contract, so that we can take a crucial step towards finally addressing the care crisis for seniors and people with disabilities in 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’s Largest Healthcare Workers’ Union To Representative Erik Paulsen: “Stakes Are Too High To Vote on Healthcare Bill Without Critical Information”

St. Paul – Statement from Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota:

“Congressman Erik Paulsen is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, making him one of several members of the House who are charged with marking up and voting on the most recent Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The markup process could begin as early as today.

“This is a significant responsibility with real consequences for countless Minnesotans, including thousands in the 3rd Congressional District. In the most recent version of the proposal publicly available, Medicaid costs would be shifted to states, putting seniors, children and people with disabilities at risk of losing their health coverage and endangering the survival of Minnesota hospitals and other key community providers.

“Despite these potentially devastating consequences for Minnesotans, the Committee may possibly vote without a Congressional Budget Office estimate of how many people will actually lose health insurance and how much the new plan will cost.

“With the stakes so high, it would be rash and reckless for Congressman Paulsen to take this vote without more information. As healthcare workers and Minnesotans who want good healthcare for our families, we call on Rep. Paulsen to postpone the vote until the CBO estimate is released.”

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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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Recently Unionized Twin Cities Big Box Retail Janitors Win First Contract, Show Path Forward for Working Families in Time of Trump

The nearly 500 janitors who are sub-contracted to clean stores like Best Buy, Macys, Target and others announce historic first contract that will bring an increase of $4.5 million in wages and PTO for working families in Minnesota

Group won historic union by joining SEIU Local 26 earlier this year after multi-year fight

Minneapolis, MN – Big Box retail janitors who are sub-contracted to clean Best Buy, Macys, Lunds, Target and other stores in the Twin Cities Metro announced that they finalized a first contract with their employers as members of SEIU Local 26. The group won their groundbreaking union earlier this year after a multi-year fight that saw them go on multiple 24-hour strikes and organize the first industry-wide union of big box janitors in a major metropolitan area.

The gains in the contract via wage increases and Paid Time Off include over $4.5 million over the life of the contract for the nearly 500 workers covered by bargaining. Retail janitors will see an average increase of 18% over 3 years, with many janitors seeing an immediate $1.50 raise. The vast majority of the group are people of color, with gains from the contract helping to fight back against Minnesota’s painful racial and economic gaps.

Retail_janitor_victory_rsThe gains won in this contract are the private sector stimulus that Trump and his billionaire cabinet promised, but workers delivered on for themselves. Janitors like Maricela Flores, a mother and grandmother who works for Carlson Building Maintenance at the Shakopee Target who has been part of the bargaining sessions, shared what it meant to win this first contract and to see gains during in this current climate.

“We fought hard to get to this point, so it means so much to have won this first contract. While working people are under attack right now from the billionaires in charge of our country, we are showing that we can win if we stick together and fight. Over the years we marched, picketed, organized our workplaces and went on strike multiple times, each time growing stronger despite facing long odds,” said Flores. “Especially now, it is so important to remember something we’ve said throughout our campaign: ‘When We Fight, We Win.’ Because we stood up and fought, and didn’t let anyone tell us we couldn’t win, we now have a contract that won big gains for our families.”

Lizbet Vega Lopez, who has been employed by Carlson to clean the Cub Foods in Brooklyn Park for 12 years, talked about what these gains will mean for her family during the age of Trump. Vega Lopez is one of the many workers seeing an immediate raise from $9.50 to $11 per hour.

“This was not an easy fight, but I am so glad we stuck together and now have a union contract that moves us forward. I hope others will see our fight and realize that no matter how difficult the challenge may be, you can win positive changes if you are willing to stand up to those in power,” said Lopez, a mother of 3. “We are contracted to clean the stores of some of the biggest corporations in the world, so it was a big win just to get to the negotiation table with our employers, and now we have won gains that cannot be taken away. We weren’t waiting on Trump’s empty promises and scapegoating. We decided to fight back and win changes for ourselves, and hope others do too!”

In addition to wage increases and PTO, workers also won: one to three weeks vacation, depending on experience, stronger workplace protections and job security, and guidelines for workload conditions when covering absences. The contract goes into effect immediately and will last three years.

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Around the country, airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. Contracted airport workers from major airports serve 393 million passengers yearly. By sticking together and speaking out for change these workers have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. Today, more than 85,000 airport workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including health care, paid sick leave and worker retention policies.

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