Press Releases

Allina Healthcare Workers File 10-Day Notice For ULP Strike

Strike Covering Nearly 4,000 Essential Healthcare Workers with SEIU Healthcare MN Could Happen Across Multiple Facilities Starting May 10th

Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota voted early this month to authorize an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike after months of bargaining and employer offering frontline workers a 0% pay increase in the coming year

MINNESOTA — Frontline essential hospital workers at multiple Allina facilities who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota announced that they have filed a 10-day notice for an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike for nearly 4,000 healthcare workers that could start on May 10th if the two sides don’t reach an agreement. 

107223Karen Cullen, who has worked in Environmental Services at Mercy Hospital for over 16 years and is a union steward with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared why she was part of the informational picketing Wednesday and why she is ready to join the ULP strike if needed: 

“I’m ready to strike because I feel like it’s a shame our employer isn’t willing to see how hard all of us have worked through the pandemic on the front lines. We’re being treated like a number, not valued employees, and that feels very disrespectful,” said Cullen. “COVID has been difficult because of the fear that we will bring it home to our family. It’s critical for us essential healthcare workers to be valued so we can give the best quality care to our patients and our community. I am ready to strike so management realizes we are valuable employees and we deserve a contract that shows that they respect our work.”

Gene Sparks, a EMT at St. Francis Medical Center in Shakopee, shared the frustration of many of the essential healthcare workers who are ready to join the ULP strike if Allina refuses to reach a fair deal:

 “It is frustrating that Allina seems to be treating this like any other year or any other contract negotiations. We’ve been through too much this last year to be ok with 0% increase in the coming year. We’ve seen other industries offering hero pay and extra benefits to their employees for work during COVID, yet this is what we’re being offered. You can’t get much more essential than healthcare workers, yet here we are,” said Sparks. “Hopefully Allina comes to their senses and bargains with us, but if they aren’t willing to do that we are willing to stand up and show our worth. I hope it doesn’t have to get to that, but we’re ready if it does.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents nearly 4,000 healthcare workers in the Allina system, doing jobs such as Environmental Service Aids, Nursing Assistants, Nutrition Services, Emergency Department Techs, Patient Transport Aids, Patient Access Specialists, Sterile Processing Techs, Surgical Techs/Instrument Specialists, Health Unit Coordinators, Linen Aids, Rehabilitation Aids, Receiving Clerks, Warehouse Clerks, Materials Handlers, LPNs, Phlebotomy/EKG Assistants, Radiology Techs and more. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members work at multiple facilities, including: Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Buffalo Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Unity Hospital, Owatonna Hospital, Phillips Eye Institute, St. Francis Regional Medical Center and United Hospital.

Brenda Hilbrich, the Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who is leading bargaining, shared details on plans:

“Our union is filing a 10-day notice for a ULP strike to start on May 10th if we can’t reach a contract settlement. The strike would start that Monday and last the whole week, with different facilities joining on different days,” said Hilbrich. “With our strike vote and this decision by our bargaining team we are making clear to Allina: we need a contract that respects us, protects us and pays us.”

Following informational pickets at Abbott Northwestern, St. Francis Medical Center and United Hospital earlier this month, Allina workers held an informational picket today at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. At the informational picket, SEIU leaders and community allies shared the news about the 10-day notice for a potential ULP strike at facilities across the state and highlighted how the healthcare workers who have kept Minnesotans safe and healthy during a global pandemic feel disrespected and devalued by current proposals from Allina management.

The two sides have bargained ten times since January and remain divided on key issues, including the fact that management is proposing a 0% pay increase for the first year of the contract. Allina has also refused to agree to needed changes around workplace safety and safe staffing, all while frontline healthcare workers still are dealing with the stress of working in hospitals during the pandemic. An overwhelming majority of workers voted to support a ULP strike if needed when voting happened in March. The two sides will meet again on May 3rd.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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SEIU Endorses Melvin Carter for Reelection as Mayor of St. Paul

In endorsing his campaign for second term, union members cite strong support for working families and commitment to fighting for underrepresented communities

SAINT PAUL — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council is proud to announce the endorsement of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter for re-election. In voting to endorse Mayor Carter, the SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board highlighted his leadership in the ongoing work to improve labor standards for working families in St. Paul by passing $15 and Earned Sick and Safe Time, in addition to his work addressing the racial and economic inequalities.

We're with MELVIIN!“Mayor Carter has impressed me by his work looking out for the little guy, whether that is passing $15 or helping to support rebuilding small community stores. He has shown that he is willing to fight for the people and neighborhoods who don’t always have money or resources to get ahead,” said James Matias, a security officer member of SEIU Local 26 who works in St. Paul. “I appreciate his focus on people and places that too often are left behind. He has helped all of St. Paul, but he really looked out for the people who too often are overlooked. He’s a good person who has been around and been involved as long as I remember and I’m excited to re-elect him as mayor of St. Paul so he can continue his work making St. Paul a better place for all of us.”

“I see Mayor Carter out in the community and know he is passionate about making St. Paul a great place to live. You can tell he knows and cares about the people of St. Paul,” said Nazra Ahmed, a home care worker of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who lives in St. Paul. “I look forward to seeing him reelected so we can continue to work together to address the homeless crisis, make sure working people are treated fairly and fight so every person feels safe and welcome in our city.”

“With everything that has happened over the last four years, it has been great having a leader like Melvin Carter as Mayor of St. Paul. Mayor Carter has fought for workers and at every step he has worked to bring people from different backgrounds to the table to find solutions. We have a lot of work to do going forward with COVID and our lingering racial and social inequalities, and we know Mayor Carter is the best person for the job,” said Kelly Gibbons, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “I’m excited our Union has endorsed Mayor Carter for another term and am ready to do the work to make sure he has another four years to continue his work.”

SEIU represents over 7,500 workers who live or work in St. Paul.

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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 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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Union Home Care Workers Reach and Surpass $15 Minimum Wage in Tentative Agreement For Contract With State of Minnesota

SAINT PAUL — Home care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with the State of Minnesota early Saturday morning, after more than 18 hours of bargaining, for their fourth union contract, including winning a $15.25 minimum wage for all home care workers in the second year of the two-year contract that would begin in July of 2021.

LaTanya Hughes is a home care worker in Minneapolis, Vice President of the Union and mother of two children who rely on care services. As a member of the bargaining team, she shared what these steps would mean for thousands of caregivers across the state:

IMG_0476“By raising wages it feels like our state is finally starting to recognize the importance of this job, done mostly by women and women of color, and getting closer to paying us the living wage this work deserves. Higher pay for this critical work is long overdue so caregivers won’t have to work so many hours just to survive,” said Hughes. “Not having to spread myself so thin would mean I can give better care to my clients instead of having to take on more and more clients just to pay the bills. This wage increase would not just help me as a home care worker, but also allow me to be able to find home care workers to help care for my two daughters who require care. I am incredibly proud of our bargaining team working so hard to get this tentative agreement. I also appreciate that Governor Walz has taken the time over the last two years to learn about home care workers and the struggles we are facing and thank him for following through on his commitment to lifting up the value of our work caring for seniors and people with disabilities.”

The full details of the tentative agreement, which covers over 20,000 home care workers across the state, are currently being shared with members who will have a chance to vote on its approval in the coming weeks, but highlights include:

  • Minimum wage increased from $13.25 to $14.40 in October 2021 and to $15.25 in July 2022, a 15% increase

  • More Paid Time Off: accrual rate improved from 1 hour per 40 hours worked to 1 hour per 30 hours worked

  • Two new floating holidays paid at time-and-a-half each year, allowing home care workers to receive extra pay when their clients need care on religious holidays for the first time, and bringing the total time-and-a-half holidays in the union contract each year to 7

  • Added funding to provide trainings and $500 stipends for home care workers who complete a set of training courses to enhance the quality of care they provide to seniors and people with disabilities

  • A commitment to work together to research future options for further professionalization of the Minnesota home care workforce in the future, such as establishing a higher wage for long-time/experienced home care workers and providing better orientation to new home care workers

Dawn Burnfin, a home care worker on the bargaining team from Chisholm on the Iron Range, shared her feelings about the tentative agreement as someone who does this critical work:

“This contract gets us closer to the living wage that every home care worker – no matter where we live or what we look like – should have for doing this important work. This wage increase will mean material improvements for both the people who get the care and those of us who do this hard work every day. Lifting up this work is a win-win for both us and the state, helping to recognize this important work and also keeping people in their homes instead of expensive institutions. That was always the right thing to do, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even clearer how essential it is for people to have that option to remain in their homes and communities,” said Burnfin. “I also am excited we won two floating paid holidays, allowing us to get time-and-a-half whether it is a family event or a specific religious holiday. I’m proud we fought for and won a benefit that recognizes the diversity of our membership and allows everyone to recognize whatever religious observance or other day is most important to them.”

“Every one of us will need care for ourselves or for a loved one at some point in our lives, and when that time comes we want every Minnesotan to be able to have a professional workforce that keeps them safe and healthy,” Burnfin continued. “We’re excited to reach this agreement and look forward to working with our legislators from both parties in ratifying this contract.”

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, 2021, with some of its economic provisions taking effect on October 1st. 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 from Champlin who was on the bargaining team, shared the importance of this contract for people who rely on home care services to live their lives:

“Our history of paying home care workers poverty wages has meant that we’ve treated people with disabilities poorly and it means not valuing our lives. By raising wages for home care workers to something closer to a true living wage, we are helping to improve the quality of life for clients like me who rely on home care workers to live our lives. This contract is a step towards showing that Minnesota values the independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” said Thompson. “The decisions our state makes through things like our budget and this contract determine whether we recognize and respect people with disabilities and our caregivers. I am glad that our bargaining team reached a deal that moves us forward and will help thousands of families. Now I look forward to the legislature ratifying and funding this contract.”

The bargaining team — made up of home care workers, clients and family caregivers — negotiated with the state over four months to reach this agreement. Even before COVID, thousands of families across Minnesota were struggling with a care crisis causing seniors and people with disabilities not being able to find workers to provide the care that they need to stay safely in their homes.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Essential Workers with SEIU Praise Introduction of Emergency Leave Bill in Minnesota House

SAINT PAUL – Essential workers in Minnesota who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) praised the introduction of a Minnesota House bill that would provide emergency paid leave if Minnesotans have to miss work to quarantine after contracting or being exposed to COVID-19. HF41, chief authored by Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope), would provide 100 hours of emergency paid leave to full-time workers who have missed work because they quarantined after COVID exposure. The bill also allows paid time if a family member contracts COVID-19 or if schools are closed related to the pandemic. 

Screen Shot 2021-01-12 at 11.00.46 AMNaomi Zeiss, a Registered Nurse at HealthPartners and member of SEIU Healthcare MN, shared why this bill would be so important for healthcare workers across the state. 
“Healthcare workers have been praised as heroes throughout this pandemic, but as we’ve been working tirelessly to keep Minnesotans healthy we have often had to struggle to get the support we deserve. Despite our advocacy, healthcare workers exposed to COVID still have to use our PTO or sick time, or go unpaid, if we are exposed to COVID,” said Zeiss. “If an employee has to quarantine after an exposure but doesn’t yet have symptoms or if a child cannot attend school or childcare due to a Covid exposure and a parent has to stay home, we have to use vacation time or go unpaid. We are only being allowed to use our accrued sick time if we or a household member is exhibiting symptoms of Covid. We are working in a pandemic with less staff and higher stress than ever before.” 
 
“HealthCare workers should not be financially penalized for being honest and reporting exposure,” Zeiss continued. “I am hopeful all of the elected officials who have praised our work will put some action behind their words in order to make up for where employers have unfortunately let essential workers down. This bill, especially the provision of retroactive pay for people who were forced to use personal time or go unpaid earlier in this pandemic, is something that would help thousands of families across Minnesota.”
Elia Starkweather, a janitor and member of SEIU Local 26, talked about losing a co-worker to COVID and the urgent need for action to protect Minnesotans.
“Throughout this pandemic essential workers have risked our health and safety to keep our state running. My Union, SEIU Local 26, has seen four members die and over 650 members dealing with COVID. One of the deaths was my co-worker and friend Lorenzo Palma. We are tired of being treated like numbers instead of people,” said Starkweather. “Our coworkers are like family, and when essential workers like us get exposed to COVID, we shouldn’t be punished by having to use our paid time off, or worse, not getting any pay while we quarantine. Employers should already be paying emergency leave, but too many are not, so I am glad to see our legislature step up and try to support working families across Minnesota.” 
 
Laura Carpenter, a food service worker in the Minneapolis Public Schools and member of SEIU Local 284, spoke about how this bill would help school employees and families across the state. 
“Working families have been doing so much during this pandemic to keep each other and our state safe. As a school employee, I know we all want to be back at school as soon as we safely can, but right now the policies in place mean that people who do get COVID are forced to choose between doing the right thing and quarantining or keeping the paycheck they need to support their families,” said Carpenter. “Minnesotans have stepped up during this pandemic and I’m glad to hear that our legislators are working to pass laws to support essential workers. This bill is common sense and I hope it is passed immediately with overwhelming support.”
SEIU members plan to push their elected officials to take action and pass this bill as soon as possible to provide much-needed support for essential workers across the state.
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SEIU Essential Workers Celebrate Massive Voter Engagement and Victories of Joe Biden and Pro-Worker Candidates in Minnesota

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, bringing together over 60,000 Minnesotans across race and place, celebrated a massive voter engagement effort and the election wins of pro-worker candidates up and down the ticket. 

President Biden (SQ)In Minnesota SEIU reached out to over 1.24 million voters and had over 105,000 contacts during the election season. Across the country,  SEIU members and partners have made more than 33 million phone calls, sent 58 million texts and knocked on 1 million doors of infrequent voters across battleground states.

The heart and soul of SEIU’s infrequent voter engagement program are its Member Political Organizers (MPOs). These are everyday Americans who have put their lives on hold to do everything in their power to elect Joe Biden and champions up and down the ticket for healthcare, the right to join a union, and racial and economic justice. 

One MPO was Laura Carpenter, who is a food service worker in the Minneapolis Public Schools and a member of SEIU Local 284, who celebrated the work done and pushed elected officials to count every vote. 

“SEIU members are essential workers of every race and background across Minnesota. We keep America fed, clean, safe, and healthy, and this election season we showed that our votes are as essential as our jobs. Now that we’ve voted in record numbers, it’s time to make sure to count every vote,” said Carpenter. “I’m proud of the work so many of us did reaching out to Minnesotans, especially voters who may not always be part of the election process, to help elect candidates who will work with us to build a multi-racial democracy where every family can thrive.”

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Another member who worked tirelessly during the election season was Shari Lackey, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. 

“Essential workers have experienced President Trump’s failure of leadership firsthand. Home care workers have seen the harm that this failed administration caused to healthcare workers and the people we care for every day. Our votes have been cast and now we need to count every vote,” said Lackey. “The health and safety of our families is just one of the reasons why we worked so hard to make sure we had leaders like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Tina Smith and Angie Craig in Washington D.C. I’m proud of the countless hours we worked to make sure we have people in office who will work with us to get our state and country back on track.” 

Abdi Haybe is a security officer and member of Local 26, and did electoral organizing in Minnesota’s growing East African community, and shared the power of turning out votes this election season. 

“In Minnesota, as was the case across the country, a handful of politicians hoped that by sowing chaos and stoking fear, they could bully and cheat their way through this election, but our solidarity and unity proved stronger than their attempts to divide us. Now it is time to count all of our votes. Because of the work done by regular Minnesotans, we turned out in record numbers, especially workers in communities of color who don’t always vote, “said Haybe. “Essential workers of different backgrounds voted for a $15 minimum wage and good union jobs to provide for our families. We voted for healthcare and long term care that everyone can afford. We voted to end police violence in Black communities and for investments in proven solutions to reimagine public safety.”

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Workers Celebrate as MSP Airport Passes $15 Minimum Wage

MSP Airport workers celebrated the passage of a $15 minimum wage by the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The Commissioners voted unanimously to pass the policy, which will see a first increase on January 1st, 2021 with workers reaching $15 on July 1st, 2022, the same time as the Minneapolis minimum wage. Workers have been pushing for a wage increase for years and thousands of workers, mostly immigrants and people of color, will see their wages increase dramatically over the next 2 years. Many currently make just $11 per hour, the current airport minimum wage.

VICTORY! (1)Glen Brown, a father, wheelchair agent at MSP for over five years and member of SEIU Local 26 who currently makes $11, spoke at a press conference ahead of the vote with other airport workers and airport commissioners.

“After years of fighting, after rallies, protests, meetings, hearings and more, today we have a vote to raise the minimum wage at the MSP Airport to $15 per hour. This is an important step towards making sure this wonderful airport, which has won so many awards, is a place where everyone who helps make it run is treated with the respect we deserve,” said Brown. “This has been a hard year. COVID has changed our world and taken so many people. George Floyd was murdered not far from here. We all are dealing with the uncertainty of what comes next. But today I’m glad to say we have some good news. When we talk about people finally getting the respect we’ve always deserved but too often not gotten, it’s important to note that most of the people making the lowest wages here at MSP are people of color. Today’s vote will increase the economic security for thousands of people, but it is also a step towards fixing our state’s racial disparities.”

Steps to $15 in Proposal

$13.25 January 1, 2021

$14.25 July 1, 2021

$15.00 July 1, 2022

Annual Cost of Living Adjustments Every January 1 thereafter

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Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Praise Minnesota Senate Passing Emergency Rate Increase for Critical Care Work

Following rallies Saturday in the streets and Wednesday in front of the Capitol, care workers and clients one step closer to getting long-overdue COVID-19 emergency funding for this critical work 

85926Home care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota celebrated the Minnesota Senate joining the Minnesota House in passing the emergency wage and benefit increase in the omnibus special session bill Thursday by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The rate increase, when signed by the Governor, will be available to help support the workers who have been on the front lines of caring for tens of thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities through over seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Home care workers, who are almost all women like me, and many of whom are women of color, have stepped up throughout this pandemic, working to keep seniors and people with disabilities living safely in their homes and with their families. We’ve put our lives on hold to ensure we are being safe for those we care for, but we haven’t gotten any support at all for this critical, life-saving work. By passing this emergency rate increase, and doing so on a strongly bipartisan basis, the Senate joins the House in taking an important step to finally showing that our elected officials value and appreciate the work we have been doing every day during this pandemic,” said Robin Pikala, a home care worker and member-leader with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota from Fridley. 

“But this temporary support during the peacetime emergency is just a stopgap. We have so much work left to do as a state to fix the care crisis that has been hurting workers and clients for many years even before the pandemic, by finally providing a living wage and real benefits and professional standards to this critical workforce,” Pikala continued. “We are looking forward to addressing those long-term challenges and injustices in the contract negotiations we’ll be starting with the state of Minnesota in just a couple weeks. But for today, with these votes, I’m glad to feel like our work, which has been praised by everyone as essential, is finally getting some real, needed support as we work on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

The Senate vote comes just days after care workers and the seniors and people with disabilities they care for shut down the road outside the Capitol to showcase the urgency of needing support for this critical work during COVID-19. A delegation also rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday when the House was in session, to make sure elected officials didn’t leave behind this essential workforce. 

Because of years of underfunding, thousands of Minnesotans are currently struggling to find quality care they need. Home care workers make as little as $13.25 per hour, with few benefits despite the critical nature of their work. The temporary rate increase for home care workers that was approved by the House as part of the bonding bill, when signed into law by Governor Walz, would be a huge boost to Minnesotans all across the state. 

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Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Celebrate Minnesota House Passing Emergency Rate Increase for Critical Care Work

Following rallies Saturday in the streets and Wednesday in front of the Capitol, care workers and clients one step closer to getting long-overdue COVID-19 emergency funding for their critical work

121308245_10158372556321928_6773060062189986962_oHome care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota celebrated the passage of the emergency wage and benefit increase in the omnibus special session bill late Wednesday night. The rate increase, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the Governor, would be available to help support the workers who have been on the front lines of caring for tens of thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities through over seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Home care workers, who are almost all women like me, and many of whom are women of color, have stepped up throughout this pandemic, working to keep seniors and people with disabilities living safely in their homes and with their families. We’ve put our lives on hold to ensure we are being safe for those we care for, but we haven’t gotten any support at all for this critical, life-saving work. By passing this emergency rate increase, and doing so on a strongly bipartisan basis, the House has taken an important step to finally showing that our elected officials value and appreciate the work we have been doing every day during this pandemic,” said Robin Pikala, a home care worker and member-leader with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota from Fridley.

“We hope to see a strong bipartisan Yes vote to approve the same measures in the Senate on Thursday. But this temporary support during the peacetime emergency is just a stopgap. We have so much work left to do as a state to fix the care crisis that has been hurting workers and clients for many years even before the pandemic, by finally providing a living wage and real benefits and professional standards to this critical workforce,” Pikala continued. “We are looking forward to addressing those long-term challenges and injustices in the contract negotiations we’ll be starting with the state of Minnesota in just a couple weeks. But for today, with this vote in the House, I’m glad to feel like our work, which has been praised by everyone as essential, is finally getting some real, needed support as we work on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

121216985_10158363049731928_7949666558590816296_oThe House vote comes just days after care workers and the seniors and people with disabilities they care for shut down the road outside the Capitol to showcase the urgency of needing support for this critical work during COVID-19. A delegation also rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday when the House was in session, to make sure elected officials didn’t leave behind this essential workforce.

Because of years of underfunding, thousands of Minnesotans are currently struggling to find quality care they need. Home care workers make as little as $13.25 per hour, with few benefits despite the critical nature of their work. The temporary rate increase for home care workers that was approved by the House as part of the bonding bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Walz, would be a huge boost to Minnesotans all across the state.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Home Care Workers and Clients Shut Down Street Outside Minnesota Capitol To Demand Action From Elected Officials as Care Crisis Grows During COVID-19

Minnesota home care workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the seniors and people with disabilities they provide care for shut down the road outside the Minnesota Capitol Saturday afternoon to forcefully call on elected leaders to take action to support this critical work.

The group came to the corner of University and Park in cars, on foot and using wheelchairs to rally outside the Capitol to disrupt the status quo that had resulted in a “care crisis” before the pandemic where there were not enough workers willing to do this work for the low pay and benefits to support the amount of seniors and people with disabilities who wanted to be able to stay safely in their homes. The crisis has been magnified since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet there has been no action from elected leaders to support this critical work.

Home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota leader Shari Lackey spoke from the intersection about why workers and clients took this step to show how serious they are about making change in the home care industry.

121216985_10158363049731928_7949666558590816296_o“Our legislators need to recognize that the work we do is essential and we deserve to be recognized for that hard work. We have been fighting for the last 7 months to get access to PPE, sick time, and a pay increase for those of us that do this work and are keeping our loved ones safe, healthy, and happy in their homes. But they have failed to deliver any of those things that I just talked about, and it isn’t for lack of information. We have gone to them and told them how difficult this work is and how it is even more difficult during this pandemic. They have had multiple legislative sessions since this pandemic began, and every time the message we’ve gotten in the end is that we and the people we care for are not important.”

There has been no action in spite of bipartisan support in both the Minnesota House and Senate throughout the legislative and special sessions, along with support from Gov. Walz following his experience working directly with a home care worker last fall, caring for Jay Spika, a Minnesotan with MS who receives home care services who also spoke at the event from the intersection. 

“We’ve all watched this pandemic shut down our entire country, but still my PCAs showed up to support me and my family, all while struggling to pay their bills. No one should have to risk death in their own family for a paycheck, but my PCAs have taken that risk all summer. They’ve given up time with their children and grandchildren so they can safely support me. We have already been struggling for years. My PCAs have to work up to 3 jobs just to get by. That’s not fair to any of us. When my PCAs are stretched too thin, I can’t even leave the house because of the added stress it causes all of us,” said Spika, who was joined by his daughter at the microphone. “Our Lawmakers have completely abandoned us to carry this pandemic on our backs. We should have been given emergency support this summer. I just don’t understand how lawmakers can hear our stories and our struggles and our cries, and choose to ignore us.I want to be an active member of society.”

“I want to parent my children without being constantly exhausted. But my caregivers can’t focus on me because they’re working multiple jobs. They can’t fully help me until you help them,” Spika continued as cars honked support and the crowd cheered. “If you only give them scraps, they’re forced to sacrifice to offer the rest. You would never allow your own loved ones to live this way. We are worth as much as you and your families. You need to wake up to your choices and the suffering you force on people.”

Despite all of the words of support from elected officials, there has been no action to provide support for frontline essential caregivers during this global pandemic. Home care workers are majority women and people of color, and they are on the front lines of facing the dual crises of COVID-19 and racial injustice. This essential work is the last line of defense for disabled Minnesotans and elders to stay out of nursing homes or congregate living institutions, where we’ve seen the highest rates of COVID-19 exposure and death.

Despite the increased risks to workers and increased need for quality staff from clients, there has been no hazard pay (workers currently make as little as $13.25), no PPE for workers and no extra paid sick time if workers are exposed to COVID.

The event came before the legislators hold another special session on Oct. 12th and also as home care workers and the state are beginning contract negotiations this fall for a new two-year contract for the 25,000 care workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. At the event, care workers and clients highlighted both opportunities as a chance for leaders to step up and take action to support this critical work.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Allina Healthcare Workers Will Strike On October 5th and 6th

Frontline Healthcare Workers More Motivated Than Ever to Fight For Safe Hospitals for Workers and Patients

Minneapolis & Shakopee – A group of 200 healthcare workers employed by Allina Health are set to strike Oct. 5th and 6th. The group authorized a two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike in early September after months of contract negotiations, but their original strike (set for 9/13 and 9/14) was postponed because of apparent gamesmanship by Allina management.

38557CD0-C8EE-49F9-B77E-93950B34288AOver 90% of the members voting supported the ULP strike when the vote happened last month, and Allina management’s evident stall tactics have only increased resolve among the workers. The group plans to hold the two-day ULP strike from 6 a.m. on Oct 5th to 6 a.m. on Oct 7th at two facilities, St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Their union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, filed a 10-day notice late last week. There is one bargaining session – set for Wednesday with management and the St. Francis group – before the strike dates.

Kia Pille, Radiologic Technologist at St. Francis for nearly 19 years, shared how Allina’s efforts seemingly to delay have only served to motivate the group even more to stand up for what is right as they prepare to strike Oct. 5th and 6th. 

“We were asking for better pay and safety for workers and patients before, but after these moves by Allina management our group is unified in demanding these changes. We have been fighting so long to be treated equally with others in Allina and our hospital, even before COVID, and now with Allina’s stunt we’re seeing even more solidarity from others in the hospital,” said Pille. “We’re ready to go out on strike and we’re more determined than ever to stand up for what is right. Both for our families and our patients, we are unified to finally see the changes we’ve been seeking for years. Despite management’s maneuvers and apparent scare tactics, we remain ready to move forward next week with this strike if Allina doesn’t come to the table with a fair proposal.”

The two groups represent over 200 workers at the two facilities. Jobs done by the striking SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at St. Francis include Medical Lab Technicians, Polysomnographer Technicians (sleep lab), Surgical Techs, Respiratory Therapists, Diagnostics Techs including: special imaging techs, diagnostic imaging techs, cardiac sonographers (ultrasound), nuclear med technologists. Striking SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at Abbott Northwestern Hospital work as Radiology Technologists in numerous specialty areas.

The two sides have bargained 8 times since May and remain divided on key issues, including around whether these workers will have language in their contract that will provide adequate safety protections and ensure pay and benefits for potential exposures to COVID-19. Unlike their co-workers, who have protections to keep their pay and benefits if they have to quarantine from COVID-19 exposure, these workers currently have a temporary agreement for the first time they have to quarantine, but in the last month multiple workers have been forced to use time earned under the contract before the pandemic when exposed to COVID a second time.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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