Press Releases

“Enough Talk, We Need Action” Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Plead for Action From Legislators In Special Session on Bipartisan Funding Increase to Address Care Crisis

Home care workers and clients across Minnesota continued their call for Minnesota lawmakers to take action on the bipartisan bill that would provide an emergency wage and benefit increase for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities.

73517The legislation would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and would help tens of thousands of families across the state. A bill was passed off the floor of the Minnesota House as a priority of the House DFL and a similar Senate bill had bipartisan support. Home care workers are overwhelmingly women and many are Black and people of color. Currently many home care workers make only $13.25 to do this critical work.

Home care workers and clients were frustrated by the inability to pass this commonsense bill during the regular session and are calling on legislators to prioritize this important bill during the special session.

Saint Paul home care client Brittanie Wilson shared why this increase would be so helpful to people with disabilities and seniors across the state who rely on home care workers to stay safely in their homes.

“Now, more than ever, we need our elected leaders to do what is right and pass this emergency increase to help support Minnesotans across the state who rely on home care to stay safely in our homes,” said Wilson. “An increase in wages during this crucial time will have a huge impact on this industry – not only for PCAs, but for clients too. Higher wages will allow me to retain and recruit more staff who I’m relying on more and more for these critical services in order to stay home.”

Deb Howze, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who participated in a “Walk-A-Day” with Governor Walz last winter to highlight the important work done every day by home care workers, demanded action from lawmakers.

“With everything that has happened over the last few months, home care workers continue to put ourselves and our families at risk to make sure seniors and people with disabilities across our state can safely stay in their homes. Even with everything going on, we are doing this hard work, with many workers still making as low as $13.25 per hour. During the legislative session we appreciated the words of support for our work from the Governor and elected officials from both parties in the House and Senate talking about how this work desperately needs to see a pay increase, but we’ve heard enough talk. We need action,” said Howze. “Minnesotans who are struggling need our leaders to use the special session to pass this bill to show they care about seniors, people with disabilities and the workers who help keep them safely in their homes.”

The proposed increase would help address the state’s care crisis. Prior to the pandemic, there was a shortage of thousands of home care workers for all the Minnesotans who need them, due to the low wages and lack of benefits for this critical work. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that shortage far worse, leaving many seniors and people with disabilities without the care they need to remain safely in their homes.

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SEIU Local 284, Union of 500 MPS School Employees, Join Calls Supporting MPS Plan to Cut Ties With MPD

MINNEAPOLIS – SEIU Local 284, the Union that represents 500 Minneapolis Public School employees who do custodial and food service work, joined the calls supporting the Minneapolis School Board plan to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd. The Board is expected to vote Tuesday on the issue.

mpsAhead of the vote, SEIU Local 284 Executive Director Kelly Gibbons released the following statement:

“SEIU members in Minneapolis and across our state believe in making a future where all families – no matter our race, zip code, job or wealth – have public schools where our students feel safe and have the resources they need to thrive. But in Minneapolis it has long been clear that Black families aren’t able to feel safe from the people who are supposed to serve and protect us. The killing of George Floyd last week has made clear for anyone who had any doubts that our system is broken and needs to be changed. A positive first step to enacting change in our public schools would be for the Minneapolis Public Schools to cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. Not only will this make our schools safer and more welcoming, but imagine what kind of community-driven projects we could fund with this money to actually help and support our students. We are in full support of MPS cutting ties with MPD and believe this can be a first step towards building a better future for all students in the Minneapolis Public Schools.”

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Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Criticize Inaction In Addressing Care Crisis, Call For Solution in Special Session

SAINT PAUL – Home care workers and clients across Minnesota criticized inaction by Minnesota lawmakers following news that the bill that would have provided an emergency wage and benefit increase for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities was not passed in the final hours of the 2020 legislative session.

70540The legislation would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and would help tens of thousands of families across the state. A bill was passed off the floor of the Minnesota House as a priority of the House DFL and a similar Senate bill had bipartisan support.

Home care workers and clients criticized the inaction and called for legislators to prioritize this important bill during the upcoming June special session.

Deb Howze, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who participated in a “Walk-A-Day” with Governor Walz last winter to highlight the important work done every day by home care workers, demanded action from lawmakers when they return in June.

“Home care workers are on the front line, putting ourselves and our families at risk, all to make sure our clients can stay safely in their homes. In addition to Gov. Walz speaking out about the need for higher pay for our essential work when he worked with me, legislators from both parties mentioned many times in discussing the bill that large wage and benefit increases for Minnesota’s home care workforce are long overdue. Enough talk. We need action,” said Howze. “Minnesotans who are struggling need legislators to use the June special session to pass this bill to show they care about seniors, people with disabilities and the workers who help keep them safely in their homes.”

The proposed increase would help address the state’s care crisis. Prior to the pandemic, there was a shortage of thousands of home care workers for all the Minnesotans who need them, due to the low wages and lack of benefits for this critical work. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that shortage far worse, leaving many seniors and people with disabilities without the care they need to remain safely in their homes.

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Healthcare Workers’ Union Applauds Legislative Move Towards Lower Drug Prices

SAINT PAUL – After the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Minnesota Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (SF 1098/HF 1246) Saturday afternoon by a large bi-partisan majority of 99-33, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley made the following statement:

capitol blng“All Minnesotans – no matter our wealth, race or zip code – deserve to have the medicine we need to keep our families healthy. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota was proud to join a diverse coalition of business, labor, and consumer groups who came together to help reduce the high cost of prescription drugs. This is just a first step toward ensuring access to affordable prescription drugs for all Minnesotans, but it is an important first step. We want to thank the authors Rep. Kelly Morrison and Sen. Julie Rosen for bringing together large bi-partisan majorities in each body of the Legislature. This broad support reflects the fact that the high cost of drugs is a universal and crippling problem for Minnesotans. Greater transparency will bring some relief and we look forward to working together with elected officials and advocates to pursue further protections that will ensure that every Minnesotan can afford a trip to the pharmacy.”

The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.

 

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Respond to Vice President Pence Ignoring Safety Policies During Mayo Visit

ROCHESTER – In response to reports that, while visiting Mayo Clinic, Vice President Mike Pence did not follow the mask policy, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley issued the following statement.

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic

“Every day our members go to work and follow proper safety protocols to protect their patients, their co-workers, and their families. When Vice President Pence ignores the safety policy and refuses to wear a mask, he insults the hard work and sacrifice of all health care workers. Worse, he puts them, their patients, and their families at risk.

“As the union that represents thousands of workers at Mayo, we are deeply disappointed that Mayo failed to enforce their own policy.”

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Minnesota Home Care Workers Praise Bipartisan Votes as House and Senate Consider Wage and Benefit Increase for Home Care Work During COVID19 

Change would increase wages and benefits for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities

Saint Paul – The Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Division voted with bipartisan support Monday to move forward a bill that would increase rates for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services in Minnesota during COVID-19. Last week the Senate HHS Reform Committee took similar action.

HS_Remote_Hearing_rsThe bills, HF168 and SF3694, would lift wages and benefits for the workers who are ensuring Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities get the care they need to live in their homes by increasing rates by 15% during the current pandemic.

Stacie Zamora is a home care worker, Registered Nurse at United Hospital and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. She testified at Monday’s hearing about the need for this bill to help address the ongoing “care crisis” in our state, a situation where there aren’t enough home care workers to support Minnesotans who want to stay in their homes due to low pay and lack of benefits.

“A 15% increase to wages and benefits will give PCAs the hazard pay that all healthcare workers deserve,” said Zamora. “For the safety of [my client] Brent, his PCAs, myself, and my patients, we need this rate increase so these can be stable jobs with the tools to keep clients safe.”

This crisis has only become more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic when the low pay and lack of benefits have caused many of the people who care for our loved ones to have to choose between their health and their paycheck. This is happening at a time when it is even more critical for people with underlying health conditions to be able to stay in their homes to not risk getting exposed to COVID-19.

In a hearing on the Senate version of this bill last Wednesday, home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Debra Howze shared the urgency of this matter:

“It’s vital that PCAs and family caregivers get this wage increase, PPE, and sick time RIGHT NOW or the care crisis is only going to get more critical.”

Following the bipartisan votes of support, home care recipient Adrienne Kleinman shared her excitement about the momentum the bill now seems to have:

“I’m really pleased to know there’s broad bipartisan support for this bill. This increase would make it possible for me to recruit and retain the PCAs I rely on every day,” said Kleinman. “That’s a security that I need now more than ever!”

The next stop for the bills will be the Ways and Means committee in the House and the Health and Human Services Finance committee in the Senate.

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SEIU Healthcare MN Leader James Holt, Father of Alec, Responds to House and Senate Passage of Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act 

SAINT PAUL – SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member leader James Holt, father of Alec, shared his feelings following the passage of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act by the Minnesota House and Senate.

James_holt_insult_rs“Passing this bill means the world to me. It makes me feel like Alec didn’t die in vain. I think back to the first time I told this story, at a SEIU member meeting, and I just knew that we didn’t want anyone else to have to lose their child to corporate greed like we had. I’m thankful for the many elected officials who have helped make this a reality, from then Rep. Erin Murphy for being the first to support us telling our story to Rep. Mike Howard for helping bring it across the finish line,” said Holt.
“It was a long time coming. We know the creator of insulin gave it away for $1 to help save lives, but over the years the greed of Big Pharma made it so expensive that people like Alec were literally dying because they couldn’t afford this lifesaving medicine. I’m glad this bill moves us back towards a world where your life isn’t determined by what medicine you can afford. At moments it felt like we were hitting only potholes, but I am overjoyed to know that the passage of the  Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act will mean families won’t have to go through what we did. No one in Minnesota or anywhere should die because they can’t afford basic medicine. I’m thankful for today’s passage and thinking of Alec as we celebrate his bill becoming law.”
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Minnesota Healthcare Workers’ Union Post Banners Praising “Healthcare Heroes” Outside Hospitals and Clinics

SAINT PAUL – SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the Union representing over 40,000 hospital, clinic, nursing home and home care workers across Minnesota, has installed banners outside healthcare facilities across the Twin Cities that state “Healthcare Heroes Work Here.” The list of hospital locations as of this morning is below if you’d like to capture them in person. Additional photos are also available upon request.

HCMN_banner_praising-2_rsSEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley shared why the Union felt it important to make sure healthcare workers and the community see how much we all value their work during these trying times.

HCMN_banner_praising-1_rs“Healthcare workers have shown during this COVID-19 pandemic what we have known all along: Minnesotans care for each other and healthcare workers provide heroic support to those in need every single day. We want SEIU members and all healthcare workers to see these signs and know that our state understands and appreciates all they have done and sacrificed to keep our families safe,” said Gulley. “While we want these workers to see that we support them, we also know that these signs aren’t a replacement for what these workers really need and deserve, which is protective equipment they’ve been asking for from the federal government from the early days of this pandemic. We thank these amazing workers across our state and also demand action to make sure they have what they need to be safe while they continue to be on the frontline of making our state safe and healthy during this pandemic.”

Banners are currently at:

Abbott Northwestern Hospital

North Memorial Hospital

HealthPartners Riverway Clinic

Allina Mercy Hospital

Bethesda Hospital

St. John’s Hospital

Southdale Hospital

U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital

More to come

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Nursing Home, Hospital, Clinic and Home Care Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Praise Agreement on Expanded Workers Comp for Workers Facing COVID-19

SAINT PAUL – After the Minnesota House and Senate passed a bipartisan bill expanding workers’ compensation today for frontline workers helping Minnesotans during the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare workers praised the decision and spoke out about why it is so important for our state to care for those caring for us.

HCMN_Groupshot_rsLaTanya Hughes, a home care worker from Minneapolis and Vice President of the Home Care sector of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared how important it is that tens of thousands of home care workers, mostly women and people of color, are included in this legislation.

“Home care workers across the state work every day to make sure seniors and people with disabilities are able to safely stay in their homes. But this means that those of us on the frontline of caring for Minnesotans who possibly have COVID-19 are taking increased risk to our health,” said Hughes. “I’m so thankful that our Union family fought to make sure we were included and proud that our elected leaders are passing this legislation. I am happy that Minnesota is a state that is making sure jobs done by women and people of color are included in these bills as we know that has not historically been the case. This fight shows that the labor movement in Minnesota believes every person – no matter our race, gender, job or zip code – deserves to be safe and protected.”

Kathy Meyer, a cook at the Crosby Regional Medical Center in northern Minnesota, praised the bipartisan nature of this bill that shows how serious Minnesota is about caring for frontline staff.  

“I’m glad to see that taking care of the people who care for our loved ones is an issue we can come together on as we deal with this pandemic. If people in frontline jobs do get COVID-19 from our work, we shouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills or draining our sick time. Passing this bill with strong bipartisan support shows that in these moments we are able to put our differences aside and work to build One Minnesota,” said Meyer. “Every day healthcare workers, firefighters and first responders are putting the good of our community ahead of our own fears, and it is great to know that if someone does catch this virus that we as Minnesotans have said that they will get taken care of.”

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SEIU Leaders Praise Governor Walz’s Leadership Following State of the State Address

SAINT PAUL – Following Governor Walz’s 2020 State of the State address Sunday evening, leaders of the three largest SEIU Locals in Minnesota praised the Governor and Lt. Governor for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic fallout our state and country are currently working to address.

mnsots-quotes-4_rs“Educators across Minnesota have seen how strong a champion they have in the administration of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. Through this difficult time they have proven that they value the staff who keep our schools running and ensure Minnesota students get a quality education,” said Kelly Gibbons, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “As we continue to figure out the best path forward for school staff and students, we hope the Senate leadership will follow the Governor’s lead in making clear that hourly schools workers should be paid during this crisis. As we figure out the best path forward, Minnesota is lucky to have an Educator-in-Chief guiding the way.”

“This has been a scary time for our members, but we have appreciated the steadfast leadership of Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan as they’ve worked tirelessly to keep families in our state safe. Despite all of the challenges, our members have continued their outstanding work to ensure buildings across the Twin Cities are safe,” said Iris Altamirano, President of SEIU Local 26. “The janitors, security officers, airport workers and other property service workers are ready to work with this administration to make sure workers on the front lines of this crisis – no matter who we are or where we were born – are safe both physically and economically as we deal with the challenges so many working families are facing.”

The three Locals represent over 50,000 Minnesotans from every corner of the state who provide care and support for Minnesota families in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, home care and property service in the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings.

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