Press Releases

Mayo Albert Lea Service Workers Vote to Authorize 1-Day Strike

As Mayo continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith, workers vote overwhelmingly to send message that Mayo needs to treat workers fairly

Albert Lea, Minn — Mayo Albert Lea service workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a 1-day strike if Mayo continues to refuse to bargain in good faith. The group, which includes 79 members who work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), housekeepers, sterile processing and in utilities and materials management, provide essential services to community members who utilize the hospital. Over 92% of those voting approved the strike authorization, meaning a strike could be called at any point going forward with a 10-day notice. No strike date was set at the vote.

Mayo_clinic_stock_3_rsThe workers, many of whom have decades of experience, are simply asking for Mayo to bargain in good faith, something they have refused to do in the past few months. Currently Mayo is demanding a race-to-the-bottom clause that would allow them to take benefits away from employees at any time, regardless of the contract, something that is a non-starter for union workers. Despite recent news that 13 Mayo employees make over $1 million per year, executives are asking Mayo workers to take a step backwards so they can increase the hospital’s bottom line.

In response to Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith, Heather Olson, who has worked for 12 years as a housekeeper at Mayo, shared why people are willing to take this step.

“It used to feel like the focus was about our patients and community, and not just about money, but over the last few years that has changed. I used to be proud to tell people where I work, and would never have imagined voting for a strike, but for me, I voted yes to strike because it feels as if there is no other options. They want to take away everything and aren’t willing to show us we have value or meet us halfway,” said Olson. “It is hard to feel valued when they aren’t budging on issues that matter so much to families in Albert Lea. I’ve gone to negotiations and it is ridiculous seeing how they refuse to move an inch or meet us halfway. It is hard to understand and really feels like we have little to no value at all. It is definitely taking a a toll on morale. I hope this will help get them to understand that patients, employees and the community matter.”

Justin Yost, who has worked at Mayor for 14 years in the utilities department, echoed the sentiment of feeling like Mayo’s refusal to bargain in good faith has led to this vote.

“It seems like Mayo is cutting everything they can to save themselves a nickel. Doing nothing as this happens to the workers in our unit with hundreds of years experience at our community hospital just isn’t an option,” said Yost. “I voted yes to authorize the strike because when you work for a big healthcare corporation, you shouldn’t have to worry about not having or being able to afford healthcare. That could be a reality if Mayo refuses to budge on their proposal to be able to take away healthcare from employees at any time. I hope they will come back to the table and bargain in good faith.”

Service workers continue to push for Mayo to come to the bargaining table, negotiate in good faith, and do what is best for the entire Albert Lea community.

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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 State Council Calls on Senator Schoen & Representative Cornish to Resign

Saint Paul — The SEIU Minnesota State Council voted Monday at the November Executive Board meeting to call for the immediate resignations of Senator Dan Schoen and Representative Tony Cornish following news of sexual harassment at the State Capitol. The State Council released the following statement:

23BCornish_54Schoen_bw_rs“The Labor Movement is built on the premise of dignity and equality for all working people, something that our society is still painfully far from achieving. Our union is made up of hospital workers, school staff, janitors, home care workers, security officers and more, with a membership that is predominantly female. Our members know that a toxic, unsafe work environment is still the reality for too many working people. The daily injustices are especially pronounced for women and people of color, and are perpetrated and protected by systems of power that we are happy to see being increasingly challenged and dismantled. Harassment is a pervasive problem throughout our country, including both political parties and even the labor movement itself.

“The news of sexual harassment at the Capitol, and specific instances of inappropriate behavior from Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish, highlight the toxic and dangerous environment facing women in workplaces all over the state of Minnesota. We can and should hold elected officials to the highest possible standards, and by all accounts Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish have failed that test. We call on Senator Schoen and Representative Cornish to resign from their positions. We also join in calls for a systematic plan to address harassment at the Capitol — and all workplaces — that has allowed for this kind of behavior to become so engrained.”

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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 60,000 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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Cashiers at Two Mayo Hospitals Vote Unanimously to Join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

Rochester, Minn — A group of Mayo cashiers at Saint Mary’s and Methodist employed by Morrison voted unanimously to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The vote was counted Tuesday evening, with nearly 90% of the eligible workers casting ballots. All of the votes were to join the union. The unanimous victory was the third election of Morrison employees to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota within the last year.

The cashiers joined a wave of workers at Mayo hospitals who have joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following the controversial decision last year to outsource hundreds of longtime employees to Morrison, a move that was met with a pushback by workers, patients and the entire Rochester community. Since that time non-union workers have seen the power that comes with joining together to have a unified voice in the workplace.

Mayo_Clinic2_rsIda Bush, a Morrison employee who has worked at Mayo as a cashier for 23 years, shared why her group became the latest to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following Mayo’s outsourcing move last year.

“I felt that we needed a voice at work, and I want the same opportunities that people in the union have had,” said Bush. “We all deserve to be treated fairly!”

Workers in the other new SEIU bargaining units have seen big gains and stronger workplace protections since joining the union. The new bargaining unit of 26 cashiers will send requests for bargaining dates once the election is officially certified.

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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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U of M Faculty Announce New Direction for Organizing Campaign

Faculty choose to avoid legal battle that would see U of MN spending even more taxpayer money

Minneapolis– Minnesota Academics United (MNAU) will not pursue an appeal of the Minnesota Court of Appeals September 5, 2017 ruling, which overturned the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) determination that non-tenure-track (NTT) and term/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty share a community of interest as employees. MNAU rejects the division of faculty resulting from this ruling and is pulling the union election for those faculty in Unit 8, the so-called instructional unit. Instead, MNAU is moving forward as one united faculty by forming a workers’ association.

umn_building_rs“Faculty are organizing for better teaching conditions for all faculty and better learning conditions for all students,” said Mary Pogatshnik, Senior Teaching Specialist in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  “The university administration has opposed its own employees by spending hundreds of thousands of public dollars to miscatagorize instructional faculty at the state labor bureau and Court of Appeals.”

T/TT and NTT faculty filed for an election in January 2016 to vote as a unified community of interest and form one union on the Twin Cities campus. The U of M’s central administration objected, delaying the vote for several months by attempting to keep faculty divided. BMS held in-depth hearings to determine the proper bargaining unit for NTT positions, which make up approximately 40% of instructional faculty, and determined that NTT positions should be placed in the same bargaining unit as T/TT faculty.

“Contingent and tenure-line faculty are resolved to continue to organize as a unified group according to how education actually takes place in the University, rather than according to the priorities and norms set by economic advantages,” said Yuichiro Onishi, Associate Professor, Department of African American & Studies/Program in Asian American Studies. “This struggle of academic labor to defend and ultimately expand a truly public domain of public education is a key political challenge of our time.”

The workers’ association will bring together non-tenure-track and term/tenure-track faculty, something that term/tenure-track faculty highlighted as an exciting development in the new model.

“T/TT faculty in MNAU refuse to pursue unionization without the inclusion of their NTT colleagues. Instead, MNAU faculty remain committed to pursuing improved working and learning conditions for all students, faculty, and campus workers.” said Eric Van Wyk, Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department.

“In order to continue working as a united faculty, MNAU chooses to form a workers’ association. A workers’ association is a voluntary, dues-paying organization open to faculty members at the University of Minnesota.” said Anna Kurhajec, a Lecturer in the Department of American Studies. “Partly a response to the overwhelming attacks on organized labor in the US, workers’ associations are revitalizing the labor movement and achieving impressive victories, including at other universities. CTUL, a worker center right here in Minneapolis, for example, has won incredible gains by pushing for and winning a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, guaranteed sick leave in Minneapolis and St. Paul that will help over 150,000 families, and millions in back wages that had been stolen from workers through wage theft. We are excited to now be on the leading edge of labor instead of at the mercy of legal vagaries.”

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Faculty at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities campus are coming together to form a union for a stronger voice in shaping our University’s direction and priorities, our working conditions, and the future of higher education in Minnesota.

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SEIU Response to News of Wage Increases at Target

The move is the latest example of momentum for the Fight for $15 movement

Minneapolis — The SEIU Minnesota State Council, which brings together local unions that represent over 50,000 workers in Minnesota, released the following statement in response to Target announcing they would be raising wages immediately, with plans to reach $15 by 2020.

“Working families started the Fight for $15 in 2012 when a small group of New York fast food workers went on strike with this clear demand. SEIU members have fought for $15 through our union contracts and as part of coalitions working to raise the minimum wage. Minnesota janitors, security officers, hospital workers and more have won on this demand in recent years through their union. Home care workers, airport workers, fast food workers, school employees and others have been and continue to fight for wages that support families and begin to chip away at the inequalities that are plaguing Minnesota and our country. Because of the bravery of these workers, in a matter of years this demand has gone from seemingly outlandish to a campaign that is winning real change for working families.

“From Mayor Hodges and the Minneapolis City Council passing $15 earlier this year to the news from Target today, it is clear that  “When We Fight, We Win” is more than just a slogan. The strikes, pickets, rallies and protests across Minnesota over the last four years have changed the landscape and altered what is realistic for working families. SEIU is proud of our members and proud of all the underpaid workers, along with worker and community organizations, who are fighting to push elected officials and corporations to do what is right. The pressure is working. We look forward to more cities and more corporations following Minneapolis and Target in doing what is right in the near future.”

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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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Morrison Food Service Workers at Mayo Charter House Announce Vote to Join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

Latest group of food service workers to organize following Mayo’s outsourcing move announce resounding union election victory at Labor Day Picnic
Rochester, Minn — Food service workers employed by Morrison at the Mayo Charter House have voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The workers voted by a 2-1 margin to join the union. Workers announced their victory at the Rochester Labor Day picnic Monday that was hosted by CURE and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The bargaining unit consists of 84 food service workers. 
 
Union_Family_rsFood service workers who led the campaign to win their union released the following statements following the vote.
Michael Roeder:
 
“In the recent years, we’ve all witnessed the rise in cost of living here in Rochester. However, with this rise should come an equally similar increase in wages, but that hasn’t been the case. People not only at the Charter House but all over the city are experiencing difficulty paying their bills because there is a disproportionate ratio of wages to the average cost of living. Because we formed our union, we are ready to join the fight to fix this problem,” said Roeder. “Even amidst management’s tactics to dissuade us from forming a union , low-balling offers and bringing in union-busters, we persevered because we all ignored their distractions. I am so glad we voted so overwhelmingly to join together and become members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.”
 
Cheryl Ouellette:
“In order for Charter House to be the preferred place to live, it first has to be the preferred place to work. We knew that the best way to make that happen after everything that has gone over the last year was to join together in the union,” said Ouellette. “I am so happy we now have a collective voice to make sure we can fight for the best for both workers and the community.”
Rhoda Mghenyi:
“Coming together in the union will unite us and lead us to real action. Our jobs will be more meaningful as we strive to make a better living and support for our families. We now have a voice to make changes at Charter which will be a better facility, if not the best campus at Mayo,” said Mghenyi. “We still have a lot of work to do, however we must remain focused on our goals. By coming together, we will enter a journey of greatness. We are stronger together and we will achieve more. Go Union!”
Bargaining dates will be set in the coming weeks.
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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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Mayo Food Service Workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Vote Overwhelmingly to Approve Contract with Morrison

Food service workers see gains in pay, benefits and security for families in first contract with new employer following Mayo’s outsourcing

Rochester, Minn— After multiple days of voting, Mayo food service workers who were outsourced last year in a controversial decision by Mayo voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with Morrison. The bargaining team of food service workers from Mayo sites across Southern Minnesota started negotiating with their new employer Morrison in March and wrapped up last Tuesday evening. The contract achieved the goals food service workers had going in to bargaining around protecting worker standards, namely winning union insurance, a union retirement plan and preserving and advancing wage rates. A summary of the agreement is at the bottom of this release. 

Mayo_Picket_20160915_rsWinning the five-year contract follows a year of activity that saw multiple pickets outside of Mayo and immense community support for the workers and their families. Food service workers stood strong through all of the tumult to make certain food service jobs remained good jobs that would support families in our community. Workers, many with decades of experience, knew that winning this fight and maintaining standards would mean patients and visitors to Mayo facilities would be able to get the service that they deserved.

Some of the largest gains were made by food service workers who were previously employed by Sodexo, a group that voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following the uproar around Mayo’s plan for food service workers. John Predmore is a 16 years food service worker from Rochester who was one of the Sodexo workers who voted to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota last fall. After the vote, he commented on his excitement about the overwhelming “yes” vote by SEIU members approving the contract.

“I am so happy we voted to approve our contract. We hope this win shows all Mayo employees that by standing together positive changes can happen. We demanded respect and it feels good to know that we have a strong contract going forward. We went from lots of concerns when we heard the news, when things were very bleak and stressful, to joining the union and winning this great first contract. This gives our families the stability we need,” said Predmore. “We finally have some piece of mind around insurance, time off, retirement and wages. It’s a weight off our shoulders. It is good to know we are part of a union that will help watch our back. Like everyone who works to make sure Mayo provides a great experience for our patients, we know we have value no matter who signs our paycheck. This feels so good and we are so proud to have this contract passed.”

The contract will last five years.  Some of the highlights of the contract include:

  • Initial wage increases between 2.5% and 42%
  • 5 year contract duration with 2.5 % wage increases each year for existing employees and 2% increases to the start rates each year
  • Increased PTO and Holiday Pay
  • Full Union Health Insurance for both part-time and full-time members and improved dental coverage
  • Defined contribution 401K, $.50 per hour worked paid by the Employer
  • Overtime pay after 8 hours, requirements for defined shift times, and weekend shift differentials
  • Increased life insurance, Short Term Disability options and improved Bereavement Leave

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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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After Yearlong Fight, Mayo Food Service Workers Reach Tentative Agreement With New Employer Morrison

Coming together to fight back following controversial Mayo decision to outsource hundreds of employees, food service workers see big gains in pay, benefits and security for families in first contract

Rochester, Minn— Over 500 Mayo food service workers who were outsourced last year in a controversial decision by Mayo reached a tentative agreement with their new employer Morrison Healthcare. Food service workers from across multiple Mayo facilities in Rochester, Albert Lea, Fairbault, Fairmont and Mankato were represented on the bargaining team that has worked for months leading up to the July 1st date that will see the final food service workers officially transition to Morrison. In a unique arrangement, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota food service workers joined with food service workers represented by the AFSCME Council 65 and Teamsters Local 120 unions to bargain the first contract with Morrison. Highlights from the tentative agreement are at the bottom of the release.

mayo picket 2_rsBargaining team members from across facilities and unions expressed excitement about the gains they were able to achieve in bargaining, which began in March and wrapped up Tuesday evening. Goals going into the bargaining focused on protecting worker standards, namely winning union insurance, a union retirement plan and preserving and advancing wage rates. By working together and uniting the unions together under common demands, food service workers won all three and the workers who joined SEIU Healthcare Minnesota from being previously unorganized won huge wage increases to meet the standards of workers who were already union. Food service workers fought every step of the way to ensure these jobs remained good jobs that would support families in our community while ensuring that patients and visitors to Mayo facilities were able to get the service that they deserved. The tentative agreement will go to the facilities for a vote over the next week, and if approved the contract would last for five years.

Some of the largest gains were made by food service workers who were previously employed by Sodexo, a group that voted overwhelmingly to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota following the uproar around Mayo’s plan for food service workers. Barb Andrew, who has worked in catering for Mayo in Rochester for 16 years, shared the excitement of the former Sodexo workers who joined SEIU Healthcare last year in a vote following the news of outsourcing.

“I was already so happy when we voted late last year to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, but I am even more excited following the huge gains in this contract for those of us who were formerly Sodexo workers. Joining the union was the best decision we made,” said Andrew. “The security of this contract for our families means our gains can’t be taken away, which is a weight off our shoulders. Getting back holiday pay, vacation time, improving retirement protections and other increases means so much to us. Winning strong healthcare also will help me sleep better at night, especially with all the chaos in the news about changes in the healthcare industry at the national level. When all the changes at Mayo came last year we were scared, confused and nervous. What we have achieved since voting to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota is night and day.”

Other members of the bargaining team talked about how this tentative agreement, coming on the heels of such a tumultuous year for food service workers, was such an amazing victory for working families across southern Minnesota. Julie Larson has worked at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont for over two decades and is a member of Teamsters Local 120, shared her impression on the tentative agreement.

“I’m very ecstatic about the agreement that we won. I’ve been with Mayo for two decades, so seeing our benefits cut in half and our insurance skyrocket after the change, it was very scary and devastating. We live in a rural area, so this job is so important to us and our community. This contract is the best we’ve had in my 25 years and I am so proud of what we won,” said Larson. “Knowing that we have a five-year contract means we have stability that means so much to our families. After all of the stress of the last year, it was nice to find out how good of a negotiating partner Morrison turned out to be.”

Another bargaining team member, Leslie Kaup, who has worked at Mayo in Albert Lea for 3 years, shared her excitement over the gains won in the new contract.

“When they first announced this decision a year ago we were all devastated, but I am so pleased with how things have turned out. When the change first happened, we didn’t know what the future would hold. I had just bought a house and a farm and worried about my future. I didn’t know if we’d have jobs and benefits. By coming together and fighting for what we deserve, we won a contract with amazing gains that solidifies our future and gives us real security. This means so much to us,” said Kaup. “The security is so important to Albert Lea and communities across southern Minnesota, and I’m glad that we didn’t let the way Mayo treated us stop us from fighting for what we deserve. Because we stuck together, and worked with other unions facing the same situation, we won a fair contract for hundreds of food service workers as we become Morrison employees.”

Following negotiations, representatives from the employers side praised the process that led to the agreement.

“We are glad to have reached a tentative agreement with our represented food service workers in various Mayo Health locations who will now have the opportunity to approve our agreement. We value the work done by our food service workers across Southern Minnesota and are proud to have reached this five-year agreement,” said Henry Dresser, a representative with Compass Group. “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with all three unions and building on the relationships we have started with these negotiations.”

The full tentative agreement will be shared with members of the unions in the coming days and voted on starting next week. Final results of the ratification vote are expect July 10th.

Some of the highlights of the contract include:

  • Initial wage increases between 2.5% and 42%
  • 5 year contract duration with 2.5 % wage increases each year for existing employees and 2% increases to the start rates each year
  • Increased PTO and Holiday Pay
  • Full Union Health Insurance for both part-time and full-time members and improved dental coverage
  • Defined contribution 401K, $.50 per hour worked paid by the Employer
  • Overtime pay after 8 hours, requirements for defined shift times, and weekend shift differentials
  • Increased life insurance, Short Term Disability options and improved Bereavement Leave

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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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Healthcare Workers Disappointed by Amendment to Minneapolis Minimum Wage, Say it Will Harm Seniors and People With Disabilities by Extending Care Crisis

Minneapolis — Yesterday the Minneapolis City Council passed an amendment that puts nursing home and in-home care workers on a slower track to get to $15, despite our state’s current care crisis that is causing seniors and people with disabilities to struggle to find quality care. The crisis is caused by the low wages and lack of benefits in the industry, and this amendment will slow down progress in the growing care industry. Care workers expressed disappointment at this move, which means workers at big corporate chains get to $15 before people who make sure our loved ones receive quality care. Healthcare workers noted that if they want to protect care workers, Council members should join workers and clients at the State Capitol in the fight for real investment in care work for families in Minneapolis and across the state.

2015 Scott_VivianEmma Woodard, who works at Providence Place nursing home in Minneapolis, shared the frustration at the move, especially in light of the challenges the industry is facing and the coming wave of baby boomers who will soon need care.

“It is amazing that in light of the growing care crisis facing seniors and people with disabilities in our state, caused by the lack of workers willing to do this important and challenging work for incredibly low wages and lack of benefits, that the Minneapolis City Council thinks the answer is to hold back wage gains for care workers,” said Woodard. “This will make things worse, and the result will be felt not just by those of us working in the industry, but by the families in Minneapolis and beyond who will continue to struggle to get the care that they deserve. It is hard to imagine why elected officials think holding back gains that will result in higher quality care for Minneapolis families is a good idea. Seniors, people with disabilities and all of our families deserve better than this.”

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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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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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