Press Releases

Home Care Workers and Clients Disappointed at Lack of Action on Home Care Crisis During Legislative Session, Vow to Mobilize “Care Voters” in November

Saint Paul, Minn—The 2018 legislative session ended without any new investments in home care work, despite high profile attention to a care crisis that is affecting seniors and people with disabilities across the state. The crisis was front-page news with stories highlighting the fact that there are over 8,000 vacancies in the state’s personal care attendant programs due to low wages and lack of benefits.

While disappointed about the lack of investment in care work, home care workers with SEIU did praise legislators from both parties for standing up to protect their union rights from those who attempted to weaken them this session.

“Minnesotans want a state where our loved ones can get the care they need and deserve in their own homes. Home care workers and our clients came to the Capitol throughout the session to make sure our elected officials understood the crisis facing families in every corner of the state,” said Dawn Burnfin, a mother and home care worker from Chisholm in Northern Minnesota and elected member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota executive board. “Make no mistake, inaction means more pain, frustration and heartache for families across Minnesota. This is wrong and we will mobilize home care workers to make sure legislators understand the need for investments in care between now and the November elections.”


The advocacy by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members, seniors and people with disabilities generated bi-partisan support to raise wages, with bills being introduced in both the House and Senate. Money for a pay increase was included in Governor Dayton’s proposed budget. Despite broad support for the issue, the pay raises were not included in the final budget bill. This inaction has caused frustration for the thousands of families across the state personally affected by this growing crisis.

“While I’m extremely disappointed we didn’t win steps forward for our families around home care funding, it serves as a reminder about the importance of elections and getting people into office who share our values around the care and dignity of our families,” said Delores Flynn, a Union supporter and mother and caretaker of an adult son who needs 24-hour care to stay in his home. “I’m ready to work as hard as possible to make sure we have people in office who understand the challenges facing families like mine.”

Following session, Delores joined home care workers, clients, faith, labor and community organizations in launching a “Care Voter” effort for the 2018 election. The “Care Voter” initiative will seek to mobilize voters to educate candidates and fellow voters about ways the next legislature can support care givers and the people they care for. The “Care Voter” initiative will be a key part of SEIU’s member electoral program this fall and summer.

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SEIU Albert Lea Members Reach Agreement with Mayo

New contract ratified Monday following agreement reached after 2nd strike had been authorized

Albert Lea, Minn — After a contentious, multi-year fight, members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who work at the Albert Lea Mayo Hospital have reached an agreement with Mayo Clinic. The two sides reached a tentative agreement the week of May 7th for both groups of workers (general group and skilled maintenance) that have been without contracts for nearly two years.

rs_Albert_Lea_Mayo_HCMN_strikeAfter giving members time to look over the tentative agreement, a majority of SEIU members voted to approve the plan Monday. The agreement came following members authorizing a second strike in a vote in late April. With a possible second, longer strike looming, the two sides were able to reach an agreement that found both sides compromising at the May bargaining sessions.

Workers expressed pride in standing up for good jobs and quality rural healthcare, even as Mayo dug in on certain policy proposals that the group had hoped to stop.

“Being able to win really good pay raises and making sure our contract does not include a subcontracting clause for skilled maintenance jobs were big wins,” said Nate Johnson, Chief Engineer and 20-year Mayo employee. “We wish we had been able to get them to move on everything we wanted, but I’m incredibly proud that we stood up for what is right and won the positive changes that we did. We hope we showed other workers, both here in Albert Lea and across the state, that there is power in standing up for what is right for working families.”

The groups won pay increases ranging from 7.25% to 10% over the three years of the contract. While Mayo won the right to change four core benefits during the term of the contract, workers won a contract provision that those benefits will be offered to all full-time and part-time (.5 and over) employees during the term of the contract, an important win for members. The contract also included protections and support for workers who may have to transition to Austin, even as the union continues to oppose any reductions in staff or services in Albert Lea. It also preserved holiday pay, which was one of the driving issues behind the Dec. 22nd strike and Christmas lockout.

“We took a stand, against the odds, because we believed that the work we do in our community hospital is important for our families, our neighbors and our communities,” said Sheri Wichmann, who has worked in sterile processing for 18 years. “Going on strike and being locked out showed we firmly believed in our fight for good jobs and good healthcare here in Albert Lea. We remain committed to those values. While you always wish you had been able to win everything you set out for at the start, we are proud we were able to move Mayo on important issues facing our families and community.”

As part of the agreement, both sides agreed to drop NLRB charges against the other.


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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SEIU Endorses Rep. Erin Murphy for Governor

St. Paul — The SEIU Minnesota State Council, which brings together over 50,000 working people across the state, announced today the endorsement of Rep. Erin Murphy for Governor of Minnesota. SEIU members are on the front lines of the fight for good union jobs, quality affordable healthcare, fully-funded public schools and communities that are safe and welcoming for all families.

Murphy_rsShowcasing her strong support across the state from working people, SEIU members from both the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota highlighted why they will be working this summer and fall to elect Erin Murphy as the next Governor of Minnesota, and the first woman to hold the office in the 160 years Minnesota has been a state.

Barbara Andrew of Rochester, a Morrison food service worker at the Mayo Clinic:

“I am very proud today to see my union vote to support Erin to be our next governor. Over the last couple years she has stood with us, as healthcare workers in southeastern Minnesota, every step of the way in seeking respect and justice. I have seen her actions, not just her words. She stood beside us — the food-service workers Mayo Clinic outsourced last year — in our struggle for union rights and a fair contract after we were outsourced. Then when our fellow SEIU members were locked out by the Mayo Clinic for a week in Albert Lea — the first lockout of healthcare workers in the history of Minnesota, and it happened over Christmas — Erin showed up on the picket line in Albert Lea every single day. She didn’t just come by one day for the TV cameras like other politicians. Everyone who walked that picket line, sometimes in the bitter cold and during a time we would normally all be spending with our loved ones for the holidays, knew that Erin was really with us. She cares about the workers of Minnesota, because she is one of us.”

Dawn Burnfin, a home care worker from Chisholm in Northern Minnesota and elected member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota executive board:

“There are several different reasons I’m proud my union has voted to support Erin Murphy for governor. To start, Erin is a healthcare worker. She understands the joys and difficulties that all healthcare workers face. Also, before she became a state legislator, Erin was a union leader with the Minnesota Nurses Association, so she truly understands what it takes to build a strong union, and how important it is that we defend union rights in our state. And while lots of politicians show up to support our members when we’re in a big fight, Erin shows up again and again — whether the TV cameras are going to be there or not — and she follows through on her word. People in communities all over this state know that, from towns like mine on the Range to Albert Lea to Montevideo, and all across the state: she has spent time with us, in our own homes and communities, and she is going to be a strong candidate able to win support this November in every corner of the state.”

Angela Negash, production worker in Minneapolis and member leader of CMRJB Workers United Local 150:

“Erin is a person who not only cares about her patients, but for all people. She is a leader who we know cares about Minnesota families. We connected over stories about caring for our parents and the power of having a strong union to support our families. She told me that the love for her mother helps drive her to make sure everyone has the care they need. I know she will be a great Governor and I’m excited for her to be the first female Governor.”

Maxine Maxon of St. Paul, a Nursing Assistant at Fairview-Riverside hospital in Minneapolis and elected Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota:

“I support Erin because she is a true fighter. For civil rights, for healthcare, and for people in every part of the state of Minnesota. Erin knows and is committed to tackling the racial disparities that plague our state, in our schools and our communities. This fall we need a candidate for governor who can excite and inspire people to get out and vote, and that candidate is Erin Murphy. Finally, I am proud and excited about my union voting today to support Erin because after 160 years as a state, I think we are more than ready to have our first woman governor!”

In addition to SEIU members, community allies who have fought alongside SEIU in our work to create a state that works for all families, not just those at the top, shared why they are excited to help elect Rep. Murphy as the first woman Governor this November.

Nikki Villavicencio, a recipient of home care services from Maplewood and active leader for many years with her home care workers’ union:

“I support Erin Murphy to be Minnesota’s next Governor because she is a leader with integrity. Working with her at the Capitol on disability policies over the years, she has proven to be consistent and honest. Home care workers in our state — the people I rely on for support every day, who are chronically underpaid —  never would have had the legal right to form a union at all if it weren’t for the tireless work Erin did when she was the House Majority Leader, guiding her fellow legislators through all-night debates and votes that stretched over an entire week back in 2013. Along with dozens of home care workers and other people like me who receive home care services, I camped out in the House galleries that week, watching to make sure home care workers’ basic rights would be respected — that they would be Invisible No More. Erin made sure that they were.

“As a person who receives home care services, I know that Erin seeks out the experiences that people like me face every day and engages us as true partners when she’s making policy decisions,” continued Villavicencio. “I support Erin Murphy for Governor because she approaches issues like a mother, with care and compassion and also the experience and wisdom to lead this state forward!”

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 over 50,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.


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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SEIU File News Charges Against Mayo for Retaliation Against Albert Lea Workers Who Went on Strike

Albert Lea, Minn – SEIU filed new charges against Mayo Tuesday evening relating to retaliation against employees following the 1-day strike in Albert Lea and the subsequent Christmas Lockout. This comes just weeks after Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found merit to the Union’s charge that Mayo illegally locked out employees over Christmas. The new charges allege that Mayo took retaliatory action against Albert Lea employees who spoke out around the strike immediately after workers returned to work. It also highlights that Mayo has refused to engage with the union about ongoing concerns from longtime employees (via the legal grievance process) and is not allowing the union their legally-protected communications within the hospital. The formal language of the charges are at the bottom of the release.

rs_Albert_Lea_Mayo_HCMN_strikeDave Larson, who has worked in utilities at the hospital for 11 years, expressed the continued frustration that Mayo seems to be choosing every option except bargaining in good faith with their employees.

“SEIU members in Albert Lea want what every family in Minnesota wants: good jobs and quality healthcare for our families. But Mayo continues to push their demands that would undermine our jobs and take away healthcare. Now information is out that when workers stood up and called out Mayo for their un-Minnesotan behavior with a 1-day ULP strike (and were subsequently locked out for 7-days), leaders of the group faced retaliation when they returned to work. This is wrong. SEIU members are willing to meet halfway — and have proposed many options that would allow for compromise — but Mayo continues to demand that it is their way or the highway. Mayo executives have taken this attitude to the extreme in the behavior described in the most recent NLRB charges. It is beyond time for Mayo to treat their workers, patients and the entire Albert Lea community with the respect we deserve.”

Formal NLRB charges filed against Mayo:

“Within the past 6 months, the Employer has interfered with Section 7 rights and otherwise retaliated against bargaining-unit employees by, for example, taking adverse action against those employees for filing and successfully pursuing unfair labor practice charges against the Employer and for engaging in other protected concerted activity. Also within the past 6 months, the Employer has failed to bargain in good faith by, among other things, refusing to process or even recognize valid grievances timely filed by the Union and by making unilateral changes to interfere with and otherwise impede the Union’s communications with bargaining-unit employees about Union-related matters.”


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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SEIU Statement on Mayo Board Member Resignation

Rochester, Minn — Following news that former Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson had stepped down from the Mayo Clinic board after it came out he had donated tens of thousands of dollars to a group promoting hateful anti-Islam messages, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley released the following statement.

“It is good that Mr. Anderson is no longer on the board of Mayo, but the question now is why was a corporate CEO with no connection to Rochester or healthcare on the board in the first place? Even before the vile work he was funding came to light, why did he have a seat at the table making decisions about jobs, healthcare and investments in Rochester and across Southern Minnesota instead of someone from the community? Could it be that Mayo’s actions that have increasingly put profits and their own power over the health and security of families in our community comes in part from a board of directors who see profit and power as the ultimate objectives? Mayo should use their latest controversy as a chance to reevaluate how they do business and consider putting someone with roots in our community on the board so there are not more future embarrassments like this.”


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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Mayo’s Christmas Lockout of Albert Lea Workers Deemed Illegal by Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board

Albert Lea, Minn – Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found merit to the Union’s charge that Mayo illegally locked out employees over Christmas. (ruling attached) The union based its charge about the Mayo Albert Lea Christmas Lockout on the fact that, despite saying they were locking out over 80 workers because they needed to ‘honor contracts’ for replacement workers, Mayo in fact hired only a handful of workers – most of whom quit before the week was over. This left large chunks of essential work undone while Mayo locked out dedicated employees with decades of experience following the group’s 1-day strike, the first in the history of Mayo. The Christmas Lockout was the first time that healthcare workers had been locked out at Mayo and in Minnesota’s history. (more…)

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Cambridge-Isanti School District Votes to Eliminate Over 50 Special Ed Para Positions

Workers, Parents, Students and Community Vow to Fight to Stop Move

Cambridge, Minn — Last night the School Board of the Cambridge-Isanti Independent School District (ISD) 911 voted to eliminate over 230 staff hours, per day, for special education paraprofessionals at seven schools. This would result in the loss of 50-60 special education paraprofessionals–over 25% of the workforce.

ISD911_Paras2_rsThe board meeting saw an overflow, standing-room-only crowd of supporters demanding the Board not vote to make cuts that could hurt students. The cuts were announced less than a week ago in a surprise move, and the public was only given five minutes to testify about the damage that would be done by these cuts.

Testifying before the vote, paraprofessionals and parents shared the harmful effects that special education cuts would have on students and the community. Nic Johnson, who is a para at the High School and utilized special ed support when he went to school in C-I, shared why paras are so important to so many people in the community.

“I see kids just like me, and I know what they are going through,” said Valland. “I just don’t know what is going on and what will happen if you make these cuts.”

Talia Fluth, an Instructional Assistant in the schools and a parent of children who receive special education support service, spoke before the board voted to cut services to special needs services in the district.

“Ultimately, the needs of our students, my children, your children, is what is at stake when this decision is made. For the sake of our children’s future, my instructional Assistant peers, and our community as a whole, I urge you to reconsider this layoff proposal,” said Fluth. “At the very minimum we demand that this decision is postponed until members of the public and our education community can have more than six days to weigh in and share ideas on how this decision will impact the day-to-day education of our special needs students.”

Tara Valland, a para in the schools and parent of a child with dyslexia, shared how important SpEd Paras are for families the community.

“I am afraid for our community and what might happen to all of our kids. My son has dyslexia and it has been a struggle. After years of trying, we finally got a para for him and he has gone from failing to A’s. He has gone from thinking college was out of reach to wanting to go to college!,” said Valland. “Board members need to make sure every student is taken care of from Kindergarten to graduation. We want you to curb this decision until more information can be gathered by the community, teachers and most important parents in our district.”

After the decision, the overflow crowd committed to continuing to fight against the cuts that would do so much harm to students, paras, families and community members in the Cambridge-Isanti ISD 911 district.


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SEIU Endorse Tina Smith, Angie Craig, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum

St. Paul ­– The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council is proud to announce the first batch of endorsements for the 2018 elections. The Executive Board of the State Council voted to endorse Senator Tina Smith for the United States Senate, Angie Craig for the House of Representatives in the 2nd Congressional District, Representative Betty McCollum in the 4th Congressional District and Representative Keith Ellison in the 5th Congressional District. There will be more endorsements for federal, state and local elections throughout the spring.

Sen_Tina_Smith_SEIU“Tina Smith understands that for our state to be strong, working people need to have a seat at the table. When the security officers & janitors in my union were fighting for a fair contract in 2015, we fought hard to win decent wages that allow us to afford safe housing, healthcare that can support our families, and a voice to fight for what is right at a time when corporations and wealthy CEOs have more and more power,” said Haybe. “When we needed support, Tina Smith was there. We won important gains for our families, but we believe that every person in Minnesota should have the dignity and security that comes with good pay and quality, affordable healthcare. Tina Smith stood with us well before she was running for statewide office, so we know she means it when she says she will be a champion for working families as our Senator. Tina has proven time and again she wants to make Minnesota a state that works for all families, not just those at the top, and I am excited my union will be working to ensure she continues that work as our United States Senator.”

In announcing the endorsement of Angie Craig, home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Leilani Madden shared why she supports Craig and will be voting for Craig in November.

“As a home care worker and mother of a disabled and chronically ill daughter, I am so proud my union endorsed Angie Craig because I believe she not only understand us, she is one of us,” said Madden, who lives in Farmington with her family. “Angie and her family experienced first hand the financial suffering that comes along with medical complications. Raised by a single mother, at times, Angie went without health care coverage.  When her sister experienced a medical complication, Angie felt the weight of her mother’s distress as bills became unmanageable. These skills will help make her a great Congresswoman.”

“Angie understands how vital employee benefits are to home care workers, our families, and all Minnesotans for a safe and fulfilling career and life,” Madden continued. “Angie understands the link between high quality education and career training to increase stability. One of Angie’s fundamental values encourages fully funding Minnesota’s special education programs within the public school system. She wants all children to be given the same opportunities and be able to reach their full potential. I am excited to work with my union to make sure Angie Craig is the next Representative for CD2.”
The union also announced the endorsements of Rep. Betty McCollum in CD4 and Rep. Keith Ellison in CD5. Both are proven champions for working families and SEIU members in the Twin Cities look forward to re-electing Rep. McCollum and Rep. Ellison on Nov. 6th.

SEIU is Minnesota’s third largest and fastest-growing labor union, representing approximately 53,000 workers statewide who provide care and support for your family in your homes, hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, hotels, universities and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings, and who make and distribute products used by Minnesotans every day.  SEIU members are employed in a variety of occupations, including:

  • Hospital, clinic, nursing home and in-home support workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota
  • Public school and early childhood workers, and university faculty with SEIU Local 284
  • Commercial and public building maintenance employees and security officers with SEIU Local 26
  • Hospitality, commercial laundry, manufacturing and distribution workers with Workers United


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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SEIU Statement on Dr. Noseworthy Retirement Announcement

Rochester — Following the announcement that Mayo CEO Dr. Noseworthy will retire by the end of 2018, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley released the following statement:

“Under Dr. Noseworthy, Mayo has taken major steps backwards in relations with their hardworking employees and patients in communities like Albert Lea where they are undermining rural healthcare. Mayo’s actions over the last seven years under Dr. Noseworthy’s leadership have put profits over the health of our communities. From locking out workers with decades of experience to closing parts of hospitals to outsourcing workers, it has been disappointing seeing what Mayo has become under Dr. Noseworthy. SEIU members who help make Mayo hospitals and clinics across southern Minnesota run smoothly and efficiently are ready for new leadership and hope that the new CEO will return back to when Mayo executives valued workers, patients and the community.”



SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 35,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota.

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Statement From Home Care Worker After Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Home Care Workers’ Union

The ruling is the latest in a series of losses for anti-union groups. Workers remain committed to addressing care crisis and improving lives of workers and families across Minnesota

Saint Paul — On Tuesday a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) dismissal of a union-decertification effort by a group calling itself “MNPCA” in December 2016, working in collaboration with the right-wing think tank the Center of the American Experiment. It is the latest in a string of losses for the anti-union organizations fighting to roll back the gains won by unionized home care workers over the last four years. In response to this latest court victory for workers and for the seniors and people with disabilities who receive care and families across Minnesota fighting to address the care crisis in our state, Anoka home care worker and elected union Vice President Corey Van Denburgh released the following statement:

Somali-HomeCareWorkers“Over the last few years we have made some crucial gains for home care workers and the people we serve. It’s a far cry from all the change that’s needed – wages are still far too low and there’s no health insurance for our jobs, for example – but still, we’ve made important progress in the short period of time since we voted to unionize. We’ve won sick pay for the first time, raised the wage floor by $3/hour, won free access to trainings, won over $150,000 in back-pay awards for workers who were underpaid, built an online matching registry to help home clients find the workers they need, and established time-and-a-half pay for holidays, among other gains.  Through these accomplishments, we are finally beginning to address the severe care crisis in our state, which has only been getting worse for years because of the low pay and lack of benefits provided for this important work.

“I am relieved and happy that this latest court case was ruled in our favor, as so many others have been over the last few years. The first two lawsuits trying to take away our union were filed a month before our union election, way back in the summer of 2014, and we have been under nonstop legal and public assault by anti-union groups ever since. As home care workers and people who receive home care services, we resolved to never let these extremist attacks stop us from making progress for the people of Minnesota, nearly every one of which will need home care services at some point in our lives.

“We have a lot of work left to do to address the state’s care crisis. Big-money groups fighting for years to tear down what we have won so far is a tragic misuse of time and energy. As someone who’s done home care work for over ten years and also as someone who has family members who receive care, I believe we should all be united as Minnesotans in working towards solutions to fix the care crisis. Whether Democrat or Republican, we all have been or will be impacted by the shortage of caregivers because of low pay and lack of benefits, so I hope we can put these divisive court cases and anti-union attack campaigns behind us. Let’s come together to make sure every Minnesotan can get safe, quality care and stay in their home with their loved ones.”

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