Press Releases

SEIU Minnesota State Council call on Bloomington City Attorney to Drop Charges Against #BlackLivesMatter Activists

The following resolution was passed at the SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board meeting calling on Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against the 11 #BlackLivesMatter members who were part of the peaceful protest at the Mall of America on December 20, 2014:

 Having the right to take part in peaceful, non-violent protest is an essential part of any Democracy. Throughout history, many important victories have been won because brave women and men were willing to raise their voices and push back against the status quo. Any attempts to chill free speech will harm us all.

 At a time of staggering racial inequalities, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is using their voices to shine a light on structural racism in our society and the harm it causes to families: the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual damage to our sisters and brothers here in Minnesota and across the country.

 The decision by Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to prosecute protest organizers is wrong. We should be having thoughtful dialogue on how to close the painful racial inequalities that plague our communities, not spending time criminalizing peaceful protesters. We urge Sandra Johnson to do the right thing and drop the charges against these peaceful activists.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Hundreds of Hospital Workers Picket Allina

Workers and supporters hold informational picket at Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis to highlight need for safer staffing levels, other health and safety measures; more pickets planned Thursday at other Allina Hospitals

Minneapolis — Over 500 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members employed by Allina Health held an informational picket outside of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis on Wednesday to highlight the need for safer staffing levels and other health and safety measures after drastic cuts made by Allina in recent years have led to over a thousand staffing emergencies in recent years. (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEIU Members Are Joined By Elected Officials to Celebrate Successful Lobby Day

Group highlight main issues that could help working families ‘live, not just survive”

St. Paul – Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) came together today for their 2015 Lobby Day, which saw hundreds of members from across the state head to the Capitol to advocate for issues that affect working families in Minnesota. To cap off the day, members and elected officials held an event on the Capitol steps to call out a few of the main priorities to SEIU members in Minnesota. (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

U of MN Workers Attend Regent Vote at the Capitol and Call for Stronger Faculty and Community Voice

Faculty, Staff and Students engage Regent candidates in dialogue as they await the Legislature’s vote

St. Paul – Faculty, staff, and students from the University of Minnesota showed up at the Capitol on Wednesday evening to talk to candidates for the U of MN Board of Regents about the importance of soliciting input from faculty and students. As Regents awaited the outcomes of their elections inside the House chamber, University faculty, staff and students gathered in the hallway under a large print-out of the University’s mission statement and made themselves available to speak with candidates.  Faculty decided to invite Regents into dialogue after attending the Higher Education Committee hearing, which they felt revealed a troubling disconnect between Regent candidates and the people of the University they seek to govern.

UofM_LogoMany in attendance stressed the U’s land grant tradition and encouraged the Regents to defend this legacy from various threats. Harry Boyte, a Senior Fellow at the Humphrey Institute, observed that the land grant tradition means that universities are “owned by the whole people” and embody the idea of democratic excellence. At the heart of this idea is “that a diverse mix of people from many different backgrounds interacting and cooperating in learning and discovery can achieve greatness that a focus on individual stars and ‘the best and the brightest’ never can accomplish.”

This land grant tradition, argued Professor Karen-Sue Taussig, means that the U is not a business but a public trust. “I have become increasingly concerned that the administration and regents treat the U like just any other business rather than recognizing the distinctive public role the university plays in creating the kind of thoughtful, well-rounded and engaged educated citizenry that is essential to maintaining a vibrant democracy.”

The need to broadly educate citizens and serve an increasingly diverse populace was another recurring theme at the event. Student Alexandra Vagac noted that the U has a responsibility to provide a quality education to students regardless of their degree path. “When private dollars flood public education we begin to see situations like that of the Chicano and Latino/a Studies Department at the U, which is consistently underfunded compared to other ‘more profitable’ departments.” Echoing this point, Professor Irene Duranczyk observed that by “closing departments that embrace diversity” and that prepare Minnesotans to thrive in an increasingly diverse global society, “we are taking another step backward, away from our mission.”

In carrying out their duties, Professor Naomi Scheman emphasized that Regents should understand that they “are entrusted with the care of the University, and fulfilling that trust requires knowing about the history and the culture of the U and the complexities of the relationships with it and with diverse communities around the state, and protecting those relationships from being defined in narrowly economic terms.”

Faculty expressed hope that the conversations at the Capitol were just the first of many conversations with Regents. “Right now it seems to me that Regents mostly sit in rooms with administrators and digest reports and Powerpoint presentations designed to present a pre-packaged narrative about what’s happening at the U,” said Professor Teri Caraway. “Regents will carry out their public responsibilities more effectively if they actively solicit input from faculty and students about what is going on at the U.”

Faculty organized this event as part of their ongoing work to build a faculty union to increase faculty and employee voice in decision-making at the University of Minnesota.

###

U of MN Academics United is the faculty union forming to represent faculty and professional employees at the University of Minnesota. It is affiliated with SEIU Local 284, which represents over 7,000 education workers statewide, including the recently unionized adjunct faculty at Hamline University

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

During National School Breakfast Week, St. Cloud School Staff Join Fight for Universal Breakfast Proposal

New Video Highlights Need for Statewide Legislation

St Paul, MN —  School cafeteria workers and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 284 released a video this week urging legislators to pass legislation to provide free breakfast for all elementary students.

As part of National School Breakfast Week (March 2nd- 6th), Westwood Elementary cafeteria workers in St. Cloud were featured in a new video to promote the proposal for expanded free school breakfast. Lori Smith, Jackie Gall and Jo Bouer are urging fellow union members, school support staff and members of the public to join the campaign to fight hunger in schools.

Hundreds of members of SEIU will be at the Capitol on Wednesday March 4th to fight for policies that help working families, including the universal breakfast proposal. This bill would increase support for Minnesota’s neediest students and improve academic performance. School support staff from across the state will also be talking to legislators about improving the equity in school funding.

“I’m more than a lunch lady. I’m a community advocate, a union leader and a concerned parent,” said Lori Smith, a cafeteria staff worker at Westwood Elementary School in St. Cloud. “Too many students in our community come to school hungry and I’m fighting to change that.”

Research by the University of Minnesota showed that children who go to school hungry are also twice as likely to need special counseling and to repeat a grade,  and three times more likely to be suspended from school. In addition, childhood food insecurity costs Minnesota about $642 million annually in direct costs as children experience illness when they are not adequately fed.

“We all know there is a direct negative impact on a child’s ability to learn who is in the classroom hungry. Yet it happens every day in every single school district in our state,” stated SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Carol Nieters. “It’s time Minnesota does the right thing to ensure that every child has what they need to succeed to start their school day. A free breakfast for all children in Minnesota is a good start.”

Governor Mark Dayton made an expansion of the breakfast program part of his budget proposal for K-3rd grade. Senate Bill 344 & House Bill 671 would expand free breakfast through elementary school. Currently, kindergarten students receive free breakfast at school.

 

###

SEIU 284 represents 8700 bus drivers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, early learning employees, clerical staff and custodians throughout the state of Minnesota. 

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

In Groundbreaking Appointment, Airport Worker Becomes First Somali-American To Serve On Metropolitan Airports Commission 

The appointment by Governor Dayton lifts current airport employee into important governing role

St. Paul, MN –  On Monday, February 9th, Governor Dayton announced his latest appointments to the 14 member Metropolitan Airports Commission. One of the two new Commissioners selected was Ibrahim Mohamed from Rosemount, a cart driver who works for Delta sub-contractor AirServ and has been employed at the airport for 11 years. Mohamed will be the first Somali-American to serve on the MAC and will be the only current airport employee.

Metropolitan Airports Commission Member Ibrahim Mohamed

Metropolitan Airports Commission
Member Ibrahim Mohamed

In his 11 years at the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Airport, Mohamed has served many roles, including Baggage Runner, Ticket Verifier and Lavatory and Water Services. He said that his range of experience, on both sides of security, will allow him to serve the residents of his district and be a voice for the workers on the front lines.

“I am excited to bring the voices of the people that I speak to on a daily basis to the MAC. In my current position as a cart driver, I speak with hundreds of elderly and disabled passengers each day. I hear about their time in MSP and am the first line of response to help,” said Mohamed. “I am excited about this opportunity to serve and to be a leader in connecting new communities to the important work of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.”

Mohamed and hundreds of other employees of AirServ at MSP have been advocating for improved working conditions over the last few years.

“There are hundreds of workers like myself who are paid minimum wage, with no benefits. I’ve made up to $12.50 at various positions, but currently make minimum wage, which just went up in August to $8.00 per hour. I will work to make sure that workers at the airport are part of the conversations at the MAC, because when workers have fair pay, decent benefits and a reliable schedule, we are able to provide world-class service to passengers,” said Mohamed. “I will continue to stand together with my fellow co-workers as we fight for dignity and respect for all workers at MSP, and will always fight to make sure the needs and concerns of workers and passengers are part of all decisions made by the MAC.”

AirServ workers like Mohamed have been fighting for years to have the right to form a union with SEIU Local 26. They have taken direct  action with disability rights activists to highlight the need for sub-contractors like Air Serv to value seniors and people with disabilities by paying the workers who serve them a fair wage with decent benefits and a stable schedule.

SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo praised Ibrahim’s work to improve conditions at the airport and his new role as MAC commissioner.

“We applaud Governor Dayton for insisting that a worker be represented on the MAC, and appointing a great candidate like Ibrahim Mohamed,” Morillo stated. “I am excited to see Ibrahim continue the work he has always done fighting to make the MSP airport the best airport it can possibly be for both employees and passengers.”

Mohamed’s first MAC hearing will be this Tuesday, February 17th.

###

SEIU Local 26 is Minnesota’s Property Services Union, uniting more than 6,000 janitors, security officers, and window cleaners in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. SEIU unites more than 225,000 property services workers nationally, and over 2 million including workers in healthcare and the public sector.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

School Support Staff Comment on Senate ‘excellence in Education’ Package

St Paul, MN — School support staff and members of SEIU Local 284 praised the “Excellence in Education” package released today. The goal of the collected bills is to close the achievement gap by increasing support and equity for all school districts.  (more…)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Home Care Workers and State of Minnesota Reach Agreement on First Contract

Members to vote on contract in coming weeks

St. Paul, MN – Home care workers and the state of Minnesota have reached an agreement on a first contract for the 27,000 home care workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. The tentative agreement will be brought to members of the union for ratification in the coming weeks. If members vote to approve it, the Legislature will then vote on its ratification.

HCW_Capitol_Rally_rsWhen home care workers were fighting at the Capitol to get the right to form their union, the pay floor was $6.15. In surveys conducted by the union, over 20% of workers said they had lost wages at some point as a home care worker. Workers also noted the lack of training they receive, despite their important work. The contract that workers will be voting on would move the floor to $11.00 per hour, provides funding for training and gives workers protections against situations where they are not paid for their work.

Francis Hall, a home care worker from Crosby and also a member of the bargaining team, stressed the importance of this contract for both home care workers – the fastest-growing job in the country –  and the clients they serve.

“For too long we have had to fight against the notion that care work isn’t ‘real work,’ from a lack of respect, fair pay or any benefits,” Hall said. “Our clients depend on us to be there to support them, and we love the work we do. But there is constant turnover in our field, because workers can’t afford to make ends meet on poverty wages and no benefits. This undermines the quality of care our clients receive. Home care workers, like workers in other low-wage industries who have raised their voices for a more fair society, are fighting to live, not just survive. This contract is a critical step towards that goal, but we know that our work of winning dignity, respect and a decent livelihood for home care workers has just begun.”

Sumer Spika is a home care worker from St. Paul who was part of the bargaining team for negotiations with the state and a leader of the campaign to win the right to vote to form a union. She highlighted the fact that the contract provides five days of paid time off per year for full-time home care workers, something sorely lacking in a workforce of approximately 90% women.

“This contract provides for five days of PTO for home care workers, something I know is incredibly important. My daughter was recently in the hospital for over three weeks with a respiratory illness, and with no PTO, my family felt the stress that too many families have had to face,” Spika stated. “No one should have to choose between caring for their sick children and paying the bills, and this part of the contract is an important step towards fixing one of the many injustices facing the workers like me who care for seniors and people with disabilities across our state.”

Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood who was part of the bargaining team, spoke about what the contract will mean for those who receive home care services.

“I am proud of this agreement and glad that it is included the Governor’s budget, so we know it won’t take funding from other vital services”,” said Villavicencio. “My family will benefit from the increased stability that will come with a higher pay floor, paid time off, new training funds and the other benefits that this contract will provide the workers who care for us.  In addition to being the first choice of most families, we know that home and community based services that home care workers provide will save the state money over having seniors and people with disabilities go into institutions. This is an important step in our fight, so that both workers and care recipients like my family can finally live the lives we choose.”

After fighting for years to make their work “invisible no more,” home care workers won the right to vote whether to form a union during the 2013 legislative session. In August of 2014 they voted decisively to form their union, which will represent all workers in the bargaining unit, but has voluntary membership. If approved by members and the legislature, this tentative agreement will become the first new union contract with the state of Minnesota in decades.

 ###

 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 42,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 57,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Minneapolis Airport Workers Win Groundbreaking Paid Sick Time Policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Workers Cap ‘Week of Action’ with Protest at Airport, Call for $15 and Union Rights

Days after Delta worker was fired for speaking out about low wages, Rep. Keith Ellison and Disability Rights Advocates joins over 200 protesting for higher wages and union rights

Minneapolis, MN – Airport workers employed by Delta and Delta sub-contractor protested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport this afternoon with calls for $15 per hour pay and union rights. Over 200 workers and allies were joined by Delta flight attendants who are fighting to form a union, Walmart and fast food strikers, elected officials and leaders from labor, faith and community organizations. The protest came as part of the “Week of Action” that also featured strikes from Walmart and fast food workers.

End_poverty_wages_15_nowKip Hedges, a leader in the 15 Now campaign and the Delta employee who was fired this week for speaking out about the low wages paid by Delta, told the crowd that he wouldn’t let Delta’s actions silence him or the campaign.

“In spite of being fired by Delta, I don’t plan to stop speaking out about low wage workers at Delta, or the issue of unionizing. In the past two days, I’ve received massive support from my co-workers, from brother and sister flight attendants at Delta, the International Association of Machinists and the Labor movement in Minnnesota,” said Hedges, a 26 year airport employee whose firing has rallied workers to this cause. “This is the kind of force that it will take to win $15 at MSP, and it’s the kind of spirit that will lead to unionizing Air Serv and Delta ramp workers.”

Randa Jama was one of the workers present at the action who work as Cart Drivers, Wheelchair Agents and Cabin Cleaners for Delta sub-contractor Air Serv. Despite their important work, these workers are often paid minimum wage, with no benefits, and have been fighting for $15 and the right to form a union.

“As a mother of two, all the money I make goes into paying for food, rent, clothes and bus fare. I have to catch three buses to get to work but I can’t save for a car because there is no money. I only sleep a few hours at night because between work, travel and kids I have no other time,” said Jama, a Wheelchair Assistant for Air Serv. “I do important work at the Airport for other peoples families, and I wish AirServ would support my kids the way I help Delta passengers and Unaccompanied Minors.”

Also joining the protest was Nikki Villavicencio, a leader in the disability rights groups ADAPT Minnesota and the SEIU Home Care Workers Union, who highlighted that the workers who support them as they travel are too often paid poverty wages with no benefits.

“If you are saying this work isn’t valuable enough to be paid fairly, you are saying you don’t value my family,” said Villiavicencio. “We call on Delta sub-contractor Air Serv and the MAC to recognize the value of the work done by workers like Randa by paying workers $15 an hour and ensuring they have union rights.”

Workers received support via a statement from Erica Prosser, a Commissioner on the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), the entity that coordinates aviation services at the MSP Airport.

“As a MAC Commissioner, I am a firm believer that the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is a world class airport for most, but we need to ensure it is a world class airport for all. This includes the workers who make our airport run. I support the workers raising their voice today and agree that we must make certain that all workers at the airport are able to provide for their families.”

Workers and supporters made clear that no intimidation tactics would work, and they would do whatever was necessary to win $15 and union rights for Delta and Air Serv workers.

 

###

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

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment