Press Releases

STRIKE: Elk River Guardian Angels Nursing Homes Workers Begin Two-Day ULP Strike

Workers make clear: “We are doing this for our residents”

ELK RIVER — Nursing home workers at Guardian Angels in Elk River began their two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike at 6 a.m. this morning. The group of over 100 workers, who do housekeeping, laundry, dietary, health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation and maintenance, are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The workers will be joined by community supporters on a picket line from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday on the public sidewalk outside of the facility (400 Evans Ave NW, Elk River). The workers plan to return to work starting on Saturday morning.

Elk_River_Guardian_Angel_Strike_rs_2Avis Lage, who works as a dietary aide at Guardian Angels, shared why she is out on strike to win a better facility for residents and staff.

“We are on strike for our residents, our jobs and our whole community. We are proud that our work has made Guardian Angels a 5-star facility, but we are disappointed that management doesn’t seem willing to listen to us and show their longtime staff the respect we have earned. We are fighting for safe staffing levels and pay that rewards the amazing work done every day in our facility so that 5-star work can continue into the future,” said Lage, who has worked at the facility for seven years.

Leading up to the strike, the group heard strong support from community and residents who understand that it is the staff’s hard work that has made the facility so well respected.

“We’re so thankful for the support we’ve already received and we want everyone to know we won’t stop fighting until management finally understands that it is the people who work here 24 hours a day that make this facility so great. It’s time they show that they value us more than padding the bottom line,” continued Lage. “We didn’t want to get to this point, but we hope those at the top finally get the message that the staff aren’t disposable and that if you don’t respect and invest in the people who’ve given decades of service to Guardian Angels, we could lose what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We hope they’ll hear our voices.”

A recent news article noted that according to 2017 tax documents Guardian Angels made $1,806,640 in profit, with President and CEO Daniel C. Dixon being paid $226,658.

The group voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike earlier this month after their employer spent months refusing to make an offer that respects their dedicated workforce. The two sides have held over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands for safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and investment in dedicated staff so they can continue to make Guardian Angels a 5-star facility.

Jody Winter is CNA 30-year employee in the laundry department who spoke out about why she was out on strike.

“As someone who has worked at Guardian Angels for 30 years, I care deeply about our residents and my co-workers. It’s because I want what is best for Guardian Angels that I am taking part in this strike. We are a 5-Star facility because of the work that happens in our building, but when we have sat down over 10 times with management to try and reach an agreement on a contract, they don’t seem to want to recognize or respect the work so many of us put in,” said Winter. “The things we want — safe staffing levels, pay that honors the staff who have dedicated decades to this facility, and respect for our collective voice — are common sense requests and would be good for everyone. We had hoped that Guardian Angels management would do what is right and work with us, but they won’t budge and seem more concerned with their bottom line than listening to their staff. We wish we weren’t in this situation, but when you are fighting for what is right sometimes you have to make a stand. This strike is our stand for our residents, our families and our whole community.”

With the employer refusing to bargain in good faith, there are no new bargaining dates set.

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

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STRIKE DATE ANNOUNCEMENT: Elk River Nursing Home Workers Set Strike Dates

Workers at Guardian Angels to hold two-day ULP strike June 6th & 7th

ELK RIVER— Nursing home workers employed by Guardian Angels in Elk River filed their official 10-day notice ahead of Memorial Day weekend and have announced dates for a two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike on Thursday, June 6th and Friday, June 7th. The group of over 100 workers, who do housekeeping, laundry, dietary, health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation and maintenance, are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

Elk_River_Nursing_rsThe group voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike earlier this month after their employer spent months refusing to make an offer that respects their dedicated workforce. The two sides have held over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer unwilling to meet the group’s demands for safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and investment in dedicated staff so they can continue to make Guardian Angels a Five Star facility.

Nicole Mellum, who has worked Guardian Angels for nearly 14 years as a nursing assistant and TMA, highlighted why the group will be taking this step next week to stand up for what is right for patients, staff and the whole Elk River community.

“I voted to go on strike, and will be out on the picket line next Thursday, because as a longtime employee I see how critical it is we stand up for our residents, ourselves and our whole community. I’ve worked at Guardian Angels for 14 years and am proud of the work my co-workers and I have done to make this a Five Star facility for our residents. But we are tired of our work not being respected and our experience being pushed aside. We want this facility to not just be a Five Star facility now, but in the future. But with the way longtime staff are being treated, and the way management seems unwilling to negotiate a fair contract with us, we are worried about that being the case. What we are asking for — safe staffing levels, pay & benefits that respect our tenure, respect for our ability to work with our union — are things that would help residents and staff. It is frustrating management continue to refuse to meet in the middle on what is best for our whole community. We care deeply about our residents, which is why we are willing to go on strike next week to fight for their future and ours.”

Pickets will take place on the public sidewalk outside of the facility both days and the community are invited to join.

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

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SEIU Home Care Workers Celebrate Inclusion of New Contract in HHS Omnibus Bill Agreement

Agreement boosts wages, benefits and training for over 25,000 workers who care for MN seniors and people with disabilities

Gov Walz_ VETO HHS (1)SAINT PAUL — The funding and ratification for the new two-year contract covering over 25,000 home care workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota has been included as part of the final Health & Human Services omnibus bill agreement reached by conference committee chairs and the administration.

Provisions in the contract include reimbursement rates and client budgets increasing 2.37% for everyone, with those making the minimum wage seeing a 10.4% wage increase from $12 to $13.25; $750,000 for trainings and orientation to help workers gain and build skills; increased Paid Time Off; and an additional increase in wages for workers serving clients who need the highest hours of care.

Responding to the news was Dalene Annen, a home care worker from rural Winnebago who joined other home care workers and clients at the Capitol in the final days of the session pushing for the funding and ratification of the contract.

“I am excited for the inclusion of our new contract in a final agreement. This contract will help boost wages, benefits and training for over 25,000 home care workers across our state who care for seniors and people with disabilities. Thank you to Governor Walz for negotiating this deal, the House DFL for including our contract in their bill and the legislature for including funding and ratification in their HHS omnibus agreement. It is a great day for both workers and the seniors and people with disabilities who simply want to have quality caregivers so they can stay in their homes. As someone who lives in Greater Minnesota, we see every day how hard it is to find qualified home care workers, with many people having to travel two or three towns to get to their clients. Right now there is a care crisis because too many people don’t want to do this hard, important work for the current pay and benefits. I’m hopeful our contract will be a strong step forward and help bring more people to the industry so we can turn this critical work into a career and not just a job.”

Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities face a growing care crisis, with over 8,000 current job openings caused by low wages and lack of benefits causing families to not be able to stay in their homes. To address this crisis, the SEIU bargaining team included home care workers, clients and family members of people who need care as they worked towards their third contract. They reached an agreement with the State of Minnesota in January that would boost wages, benefits and trainings to help address this crisis.

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Elk River Nursing Home Workers Announce Strike Authorization

Workers at Guardian Angels vote to authorize strike after months of contract negotiations

Elk River — Nursing home workers employed by Guardian Angels in Elk River voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike after their employer has refused to make an offer that respects their dedicated workforce. The group, who do housekeeping, laundry, dietary, health unit coordinating, nursing assistance, recreation, and maintenance, are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The two sides have held over 10 bargaining sessions, with their employer refusing to meet the group’s demands for safe staffing levels, respect for workers who want a collective voice in their workplace, and calls for investment in dedicated staff so they can invest in their community.

Elk_River_Nursing_rsThere is no strike date set. There must be a 10-day notice before any strike would begin. An update will be shared if a 10-day notice is filed. 

Jane Gardner, a nursing assistant and TMA at Guardian Angels for nearly 14 years, shared her feelings why the group voted to authorize a strike if the two sides don’t reach an agreement.

“As dedicated employees of Guardian Angels, all we are asking is for them to invest in their dedicated employees so residents can continue to get quality care. We want to feel respected and valued and we want to have a voice through our union. We become an extension of the lives of our residents through our work, and we simply want our dedication to be acknowledged. We want Guardian Angels to continue being a Five Star facility for our community. That means management actually negotiating with us in good faith to reach a contract. We voted today to authorize a strike because right now they aren’t showing us that respect.”

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

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Changes to Nursing Home Reimbursement In Gov. Walz’s Budget Raise Questions For Nursing Home Workers

SAINT PAUL—In response to the budget released today by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan that proposes cuts for some Minnesota nursing homes, St. Charles nursing home worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Jeanne Schulz released the following statement.

 

MN Capitol Dome“Minnesotans are caring and compassionate. We believe that our family, friends and neighbors living in nursing homes like the one where I work — no matter their race, income or zip code — should be able to have what they need to live full and happy lives. Seeing a proposed cut for nursing homes in the budget, without clarity on who that cut will effect, is worrisome to those of us who do this critical work every day.

 

“We understand that the proposal says cuts would be focused on reining in ballooning costs for out-of-state management and executives, and we share a strong concern about the wave of acquisitions of Minnesota nursing homes by out-of-state companies in recent months and the impact those changes have had on nursing residents and workers. But we know that the line-item being targeted for cuts, called “other operating costs,” includes many hard-working frontline staff, not just management and administration. Members like me whose main job is to cook the food, clean the building, take out the trash, or work in the laundry are considered “other operating costs” simply because we are not doing the direct resident care a nursing assistant or nurse performs. And many of us are already making $3-$5/hour less than our nursing-assistant coworkers because the reimbursement reform passed by state lawmakers in 2015 focused only on the workers involved in direct care.  

 

“We made important progress in 2015 by increasing nursing home funding all across Minnesota, but we still have a ways to go to make sure every nursing home is a world-class facility for residents and staff. A good reimbursement system needs to invest in workers, not out-of-state administrators. As this proposal moves forward we hope to get some important questions answered, to make sure the state is cutting out real waste and unnecessary expenses, not taking from the front-line employees who keep our buildings clean and our seniors fed. The lives of thousands of Minnesotans across our state depend on it.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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Minnesotans Praise Gov. Walz’s Budget that Protects and Expands Affordable Health Care

St. Paul—Today, Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan released their two year budget proposal which repeals the sunset of the 27 year old health care provider tax—protecting health care for one million Minnesotans—and lays the groundwork to expand affordable health care throughout the state with ONECare.

Thank_You_Walz_FlanaganTakeAction Minnesota, SEIU, Land Stewardship Project, and ISAIAH released the following statement:

“As Minnesotans, we care about each other. When one person can’t afford or access the health care they need, it hurts all of us. We’re strongest when no one is left behind, and when our health care centers people.

This last election saw thousands of conversations about healthcare and what we need to make sure our state moves forward. Our elected officials are responsible for making health care work for everyone, no exception. It’s clear that Governor Walz has heard the frustration and heartbreak over health care in every corner of the state and is taking action with his first budget to address these challenges. His budget protects health care for one million Minnesotans and lays the groundwork to expand affordable health care, all without giving handouts to insurance companies. Minnesotans want bold action on health care and Gov. Walz is leading the way.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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Red Wing Care Center Nursing Home Operator Leaves Town, Refuses to Pay Wages & Benefits for Hundreds of Employees

Red Wing, Minn — Employees of the Red Wing Care Center Nursing Home found out late last week, after working a full pay period, that their employer Welcov Healthcare had filed for bankruptcy and refused to pay for work they had done. The payroll owed by Welcov was for over $200,000, and that doesn’t even take into account vacation and sick time that these workers may lose.

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Jamie Gulley, the President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the Union that represents many of the employees, shared the frustration felt by the workers, the residents and all Minnesotans impacted by the greed from companies like Welcov as our state continues to face a care crisis caused by lack of funding and support for nursing homes.

“It is frustrating that another employer is treating the people who care for our families this way. This is the latest case of Minnesota’s growing wage theft crisis and also a clear example of why we have a care crisis, where families struggle to find the care they want and deserve,” said Gulley. “Would you do this critical, important, incredibly hard work if you may not be paid for your hours or if you could lose your accrued sick and vacation benefits? It’s time that our state takes this issue seriously, both addressing the actions of bad actors and proactively making sure these shady business practices are stopped once and for all.”

In recent months Welcov Healthcare had signed an agreement to transition operations of the nursing home to a new operator effective last week, and as part of the transition agreement they were responsible for the payroll through last week and were to transition all accrued benefits (sick leave and vacation time) to the new operator upon transition. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Just before the end of the pay period, Welcov told the new operator they were declaring bankruptcy and did not pay the wages it owed. Now, employees and the residents they care for are being punished for Welcov’s greed. Just last month the Star Tribune reported that “Welcov’s owners plan to start a new business that will focus on a handful of healthcare facilities in Wyoming.”

This is just the latest example of Nursing Home operators bailing on employees and Minnesota communities. In 2015 Deseret Health Group in Owatonna went bankrupt, forcing the state to put them in receivership and put Volunteers of America in charge until they could place all the residents in other nursing homes, eventually resulting in the nursing home closing. It was later discovered the employer was deducting insurance premiums from workers checks and not submitting to the insurance company. Extendicare (Robbinsdale and Texas Terrace facilities) went bankrupt and the courts put another management company in charge, with one (Fortis) going bankrupt as well. Workers at two facilities lost their sick pay.

The workers and their Union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, have notified the AG’s office and are preparing to take any and all legal action possible to ensure Welcov pays workers what they are owed.

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

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SEIU Home Care Workers Announce Tentative Agreement With State of Minnesota

SAINT PAUL — Late Monday night the home care workers of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with the state of Minnesota for their third union contract, a two-year contract that would begin in July of 2019.

HCW_group_photo_rsThe bargaining team — made up of home care workers, clients and family caregivers — negotiated with the state over three months to reach this agreement. The bargaining team fought to address the care crisis, a workforce shortage that has grown to over 8,000 openings because of the low wages and lack of benefits for this work. This crisis continues to result in seniors and people with disabilities not being able to find workers to provide the care that they need to stay safely in their homes.

The full details of the TA won’t be shared until members have a chance to see the tentative agreement and vote on its approval, but highlights include funding so reimbursement rates and client budgets will go up 2.37% for everyone, with those making the minimum wage seeing a 10.4% wage increase from $12 to $13.25; $750,000 for trainings and orientation to help workers gain and build skills; increased Paid Time Off; and an additional increase in wages for workers serving clients who need the highest hours of care.

Dalene Annen, a home care worker on the bargaining team from rural Minnesota, shared her feelings about the tentative agreement as someone who does this critical work.

“The work done by home care workers is critical for thousands of families across Minnesota, which is why we fight so hard to improve our industry. We’re proud of the gains that we’ve made in this contract, but we know that we have a lot more work to do to get the kind of wages, benefits and recognition that can fix the care crisis,” said Annen, who lives in Winnebago, a small town near the Iowa border. “The money we secured for home care workers and our clients will help to make a more dedicated workforce and move us to our goal of making sure that every Minnesotan– no where we live, the color of our skin, or our income– can get quality care to be able to stay in their homes and not be forced into institutions. Because we’ve stuck together, caregivers are getting better wages and benefits than we had before.”

If the Tentative Agreement gets ratified by Union members, it will then go to the legislature for their approval and funding. The final step would be having it signed by Governor Walz and go into effect July 1st, 2019. The negotiations took place in the months preceding budget negotiations in order to ensure that legislators have the opportunity to review the terms of the proposed agreement and vote on whether to ratify it.

Lauren Thompson, a client who was on the bargaining team, stressed the importance of the legislature ratifying the agreement once it gains approval from home care workers.

“After years of under investment in this workforce, and undervaluing the people who rely on these services, this contract is a step towards addressing the care crisis. Elected officials statewide must look beyond party lines and understand the importance of investing in home care. It is a matter of dignity and quality of life, it is a matter of survival,” said Thompson. “Home care workers, clients and our families will be at the Capitol this session to make sure that the contract gets ratified and that these gains are upheld. We will continue to strive for better wages, benefits and professional standards that home care workers deserve. This is vital so that I, and the thousands of other Minnesotans like me, will be able to survive and thrive in our homes and in our community.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Bring Minimum Wage Proposal of at Least $15 to Negotiations with State of Minnesota

Proposal comes as seniors and people with disabilities in Minnesota face an ongoing care crisis that has grown to 8,000 unfilled job openings caused by low wages

SAINT PAUL – On Wednesday afternoon, at their most recent bargaining session with the state of Minnesota, the bargaining team for the home care workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota presented a proposal to bring all home care workers in the bargaining unit to at least $15 per hour during the next two-year contract they are currently negotiating. The home care bargaining team includes workers, clients and family members of seniors and people with disabilities who receive care services. (more…)

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SEIU Members Across Minnesota Celebrate Election of Tim Walz for Governor & Other SEIU-Endorsed Candidates

Members & staff contacted hundreds of thousands of Minnesota voters leading up to election, proud of work in win that shows state is Greater Than Fear

SAINT PAUL — With news that Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan have been elected as the next Governor and Lt. Governor of Minnesota, SEIU members expressed pride and excitement over their work to help elect these two champions of working people. SEIU members and staff door knocked, phone banked, texted and had worksite conversations with hundreds of thousands of Minnesota voters in the months leading up to the election, making sure they knew which candidates stood with working families.

Walz_SEIU_Member_rsNazra Ahmed, a home care worker who is a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared about the tireless work that SEIU members and staff put in this election in order to make sure our state elects candidates who will fight for our families.

“As a home care worker I know the importance of having people who understand and support our families in office. I’m proud of the thousands of hours that SEIU members in Minnesota have put in door knocking and phone banking supporting candidates who support us,” said Ahmed. “I’ve never been involved in politics before this election, but now I feel like I’ve found my voice as I join others working towards electing people who will work with us to build a state where every family — white, black or brown — have quality care so seniors and people with disabilities, and the people who care for them, can live full and happy lives.”

Seeing an educator running for Governor helped motivate members of SEIU Local 284 like Beverly Tinney, a para-educator in the Mounds View Schools and a member of the union who spent months talking to voters about SEIU-endorsed candidates in her free time.

“I’m one of many SEIU members who has been talking to voters across Minnesota for the last few months. I’m happy our hard work has helped move our state in the right direction. Electing Tim Walz, an educator, as our next Governor, is especially important to me. As a public school employee, I know how important it is to have someone in that office who values education,” said Tinney. “We know that we need to continue our work tomorrow for a more fair and equitable world for all families in our state, but I’m glad to know we will be doing it with so many champions of working families in office.”

SEIU members not only talked to fellow union members and general public voters, but ran campaigns to bring in underrepresented voters to the election process. Abdi Haybe, a security officer with SEIU Local 26, helped reach voters from the East African community both in the Twin Cities and in communities across the state.

“Some politicians and their corporate backers tried to divide us by the color of our color, our religion or where we live, but today, with our vote, we showed them that Minnesotans are greater than fear by electing the candidates who offered hope instead of scapegoating and division,” said Haybe. “We worked hard to make sure we got out the vote to elect candidates who support working families. I’m so excited to we elected candidates like Keith Ellison for Attorney General and Tina Smith for Senate to make sure Minnesota is a state that works for ALL families, not just those at the top.”

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The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their efforts to organize unorganized workers in critical sectors of our economy, improve wages, hours and working conditions, and build political and legislative power for all workers and their families.  The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, SEIU members and staff of the various SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota, and that board, with the active participation and input of our broader membership, determines our endorsements.

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