Press Releases

Allina Technical Healthcare Workers at Two Hospitals File 10-Day Notice For ULP Strike on September 14th

Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Abbott Northwestern voted to authorize a Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike after months of bargaining and employer refusing workers’ health and safety demands during COVID-19 pandemic 

MINNEAPOLIS & SHAKOPEE — Over 200 healthcare workers employed by Allina Health have voted over the last two weeks to authorize a two-day Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike after months of contract negotiations. Over 90% of the members voting supported the ULP strike. Their union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, filed a 10-day notice Thursday for a two-day strike that would start at 6 a.m. on September 14th and last until 6 a.m. on September 16th at two facilities, St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

80785Judy Grack, who has worked at Abbott Northwestern for over seven years as a CT tech, shared why she voted to authorize the strike. 

“We work closely with patients during hard times in their lives. We are there when their family can’t be, and we work hard every day to help people get healthy. I had to quarantine for possible COVID exposure, and now management has said I would need to use my sick time if I’m exposed again at work. Our work has become even more challenging during COVID, yet here we are fighting for safe working conditions and fair pay and benefits. We deserve better,” said Grack. “All frontline healthcare workers should get the pay and protections we need to keep ourselves and our patients safe. We haven’t gotten COVID pay despite the many challenges we’ve faced, and even before COVID we weren’t getting what we deserved. We’re willing to strike because the work we do is important and Allina needs to show they value their workers and patients.” 

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 around whether these workers will have language in their contract that will 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 their sick time if they faced a second exposure to COVID.The main sticking points center beyond these essential healthcare workers pushing to get the same health and safety benefits as other Allina workers include proposed increased Paid Time Off and improvements to their health insurance and retirement plans.
Phil Goodmanson, who has worked for St. Francis for 10 years as a Special Imaging Technologist, shared why he voted to go on strike.
“We want to be safe so we can serve our community. I’m willing to strike because we are fighting for basic health and safety for ourselves and our patients. We understand that because of our job we have a chance to be exposed to it, but we need them to take care of us if we are exposed,” said Goodmanson. “I love working with the community and my co-workers. Our facility feels like a close-knit family. We are simply asking for the things that other workers in our hospital already have so we can continue to provide high-quality care for our community. We hope our willingness to take this step shows Allina we are serious about fighting for what is right.”
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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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Following July 20th Strike, St. Paul Nursing Home Workers Win Strong New Contract

VICTORY!Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota at Cerenity Humboldt Care Center in St. Paul voted Thursday to approve new contract that blocked concessions employer was proposing and won strong gains for frontline, essential workers

Healthcare workers employed by Cerenity Humboldt Care Center in St. Paul voted Thursday to approve a new two-year contract with 94% support from members who voted. The tentative agreement was reached on August 10th following the healthcare workers holding a 24-hour ULP strike on July 20th. The two sides had been bargaining for six months, but came quickly to an agreement in bargaining sessions following the successful 24-hour strike. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents 85 healthcare workers who do work as Cooks, Housekeepers, Janitors, Nursing Assistants, Laundry Aides, Dietary Aides, and Restorative Aides.

 

Key gains won by the workers include:

  • At least 4% raises for all workers, with the base pay for cooks raising over 22% to $15 per hour and the base pay of housekeepers raising over 13%.
  • Pay increase for shift leads
  • Blocking proposals to roll back sick time
  • Stopping employer plan to restrict leaves of absences

Rhonda Little, who has been a cook at Cerenity for over 5 years and is a member of the SEIU Healthcare MN negotiating team, shared her reaction to the new contract getting ratified.

“It is clear that our strike was a huge success. I’m so proud that we stood together and were able to win such a strong contract. Our unity allowed us to go right back to the bargaining table after the strike and make sure we were able to keep our sick time and win increased wages for so many people. Finally getting this contract is a relief, especially during a pandemic. I’m hoping this means we can get and retain good employees who can help us continue to provide outstanding care and services our patients need,” said Little. “I know we would not have won all of what we won without going out on strike. To healthcare workers and all essential workers: stay strong and stick together during these challenging times, and never be afraid to fight for what you deserve.”

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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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Minnesotans Protest With Cars & Wheelchairs Outside Capitol Demanding Action to Support Home Care Workers and Clients

On national day of action, home care workers & clients demand emergency funding increase from legislators as low pay & benefits continue to hurt seniors & people with disabilities facing a“care crisis” made worse by COVID-19
As Minnesota grapples with the need to address racial disparities, protest shines a light on how racism and sexism continue to degrade the home care workforce that is 90 percent women and disproportionately women of color

SAINT PAUL – Nearly 60 cars and dozens of wheelchairs took to the streets Wednesday afternoon in front of the Minnesota Capitol demanding action on the home care crisis that is hurting thousands of families across the state. Despite bipartisan support, legislation that would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to pass during the original legislative session and the subsequent special session. House Democrats passed versions of the rate increase, as part of larger COVID related packages, in both the regular and special session. In their demands for a living wage and basic benefits, workers and clients call for a change to the exploitative history of disabled people and those who care for them.

SEIU_Capitol_Group_Photo_rsBecause of the low wages and benefits, there is a “care crisis” in Minnesota that left over 8,000 unfilled positions before COVID-19, which means seniors and people with disabilities aren’t able to get the care they need to safely stay in their homes. The protest called out how the whole care system was built on racism and sexism that continues to degrade the home care workforce that is 90 percent women and disproportionately women of color as Minnesota grapples with racial disparities that are some of the worst in the nation.

One of the speakers was Brittanie Wilson, a self-advocate and a client who has received PCA services for over 15 years. Wilson talked about the frustration that inaction is causing thousands of Minnesotans and how the recent uprising following George Floyd’s murder have showcased how issues are connected.

“Societal beliefs say that we’re not worthy of accommodations because they cost too much and that we’re burdens. Societal beliefs say that PCAS don’t deserve a livable wage or access to PPE, all because those they serve aren’t worth it. But society and our lawmakers can’t hide behind these excuses anymore. If we want any chance at real change then we must make our lawmakers understand that they are hurting us and our caregivers by not doing their job and passing this bill,” said Wilson. “I’d also like to remind everyone that half of the black lives that are lost due to police brutality are disabled people. As a brown woman I am here, ‘your fight is our fight and Black disabled lives matter!’”

Another speaker at the event was Adrienne Kleinman, a Minneapolis resident who uses her voice to inspire change and bring perspective to those around her. Kleinman has used a wheelchair since she was 3 years old and at the event she shared the hurt and anger as she’s feeling from the PCA Emergency Bill not being passed.

“I use a motorized wheelchair due to having a form of muscular dystrophy. I am totally reliant on others to assist me with grooming, showering, positioning, cooking, cleaning, organizing, errands, and all of the minute and major things that you must do for yourself in a day. I can not do any of those things without another human being present. I struggle recruiting the folks to help me do any of the previously mentioned things because they don’t think $13.25 an hour is worth it,” said Kleinman. “I’m sick of being forgotten, cast aside, hidden, reduced to a body that simply isn’t worth the time or importance to help out. I’m sick of being an afterthought. Pass the PCA Emergency Bill and compensate home healthcare workers for being on the frontlines. Do your job and finish what you started!”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota brings together over 25,000 home care workers across Minnesota. Union home care workers and the clients they work for believe that every Minnesotan – no matter our race, zip code or wealth – deserve the right to live safely in our home. But right now many home care workers who provide critical service are paid as little as $13.25 with no health insurance because our leaders have refused to act.

To start the program, as the cars circled with messages like “Do Your Job” “Fund Homecare,” “Abelsim Sucks” and “Rise Up Homecare” written on their windows circled the Capitol and honked, Home care worker and Indigenous Autistic activist Jules Edwards shared what thousands of Minnesotans have been facing as legislators continue not to act.

“Homecare has been in crisis for years. The Minnesota legislature has had a bill to provide a 15% home care funding increase sitting on their desks since February, but has failed to pass it twice, despite bipartisan support! Home care work evolved out of domestic slavery and institutional disposal of disabled people. Care labor has always been paid as little as legally possible, back to when that labor was stolen,” said Edwards. “Today we face a global pandemic where disabled people are at increased risk of severe illness and death and over 80% of covid deaths are occurring in long term care facilities. We’re facing staffing shortages due to low wages and the general public shrugs their shoulders and claims that this pandemic isn’t a big deal because only the elderly and disabled are at risk. But we are not disposable. Today, we are demanding the 15% funding increase, but we know that the work doesn’t end there.”

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On “Justice for Janitors” Day, As Twin Cities Businesses Begin COVID-19 Reopening, Janitors Who Clean Twin Cities Buildings Highlight Safety Demands on Local and State Gov’t

MINNEAPOLIS – As COVID-19 restrictions continue to be rolled back and more Minnesotans are returning to work, union janitors with SEIU Local 26 who are the frontline, essential workers who clean buildings in the Twin Cities, spoke out Monday morning about their demands to ensure they have a safe work environment. You can watch the full press conference HERE.
 
 JusticeForJanitorsTwin Cities janitor Ernesto Garnica works for Aramark cleaning the General Mills buildings and is one of the nearly 100 SEIU members who have gotten the COVID-19 virus. He shared his experience and spoke about why it is so important that we work to keep everyone safe.
 
“I suffered a few days but thank God I overcame that terrible disease. Many other members of my family also had COVID-19. It was scary, and I wish no one else catches this terrible virus. We have seen so many people get the virus even when the buildings have been mostly empty, and now if buildings begin to fill back up and no changes are made, it will be dangerous for both us and the office workers in the buildings,” said Garnica. “We haven’t seen the action needed by our employers, so we need our Government to step up and keep people safe. It is frustrating that not only are we still fighting to make sure people have essential worker pay and proper PPE, but now it feels even more dangerous as our state begins to reopen and employers aren’t taking it as seriously as they should.”
 
SEIU Local 26 President Iris Altamirano shared why this issue matters to the 8,000 SEIU Local 26 members who clean and protect buildings in the Seven County Metro area. 
 
“Our members are the front line securing and keeping Twin Cities business safe. During ‘shelter in place,’ with mostly empty buildings, we have already had one Local 26 member (Armano Solis) pass away and nearly 100 who have fallen ill with COVID-19. Imagine what will happen as office buildings fill up again,” said Altamirano. “We also know that ‘work from home’ and social distancing are almost never available for low-wage workers, many of whom are Black and Latino. Our members and our community have borne the brunt of this virus, and now as more people are venturing out, we demand safety. Our union has purchased and given away thousands of masks and gloves for our members because the employers have failed so miserably at these basic protections. But we’ve had enough. We need our local and state governments to step up and make sure working people in our state are safe.”
 

Thousands of essential workers who are people of color are keeping this country clean, safe and healthy, but they are risking everything—not only their own health but the health of loved ones after they return home after work. Monday was also a national “Justice for Janitors” day of action where janitors across the country will lift up the critical work they do on the 30th anniversary of the landmark Justice For Janitors campaign.

“Frontline services workers are always hit the hardest by our system, and this crisis has seen that happen again,” Altamirano continued. “We’ve asked, demanded and pleaded with employers to step up, asking for them to take these actions, but too many simply have not. Now we are releasing these demands and hoping our elected leaders will make sure people are safe as they “reopen” our state.”
Findings from a survey of hundreds of members.
  • 73% of workers said they were nervous about going to work
  • 1 in 5 workers said they did not have gloves and 2 in 5 said they didn’t have masks
  • 45%, reported no training around COVID-19 protections

The recommendations that have been approved by the SEIU Local 26 membership are:

  1. Conditions for Safe Working
    1. Personal Protective Equipment
      1. Employers should provide adequate personal protective equipment to all property service workers.
      2. specially trained “Hot Spot” decontamination teams: N-95 Respirators, face shield, disposable gloves and gowns for Cleaning and Disinfection After Persons Suspected/Confirmed to Have COVID-19 Have Been in the Facility,
      3. Front desk security officers interacting with the public should be provided with plexiglass shields or face guards, masks, for example
    2. Social Distancing, like touch free methods for clocking in and out, Stagger start/end shifts, staggered breaks. 
    3. Time to regularly Clean Hands. This means at least 15 minutes break on paid time for every 4 hours worked. 
    4. Workers uniforms should be sanitized/laundered daily by company.
    5. Immediate Notification of Potential Exposure to employees, union steward and union hall.
    6. Training:  provided on work time and at no cost to workers,
      1. for cleaners on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals, personal hygiene protocols, etc.
      2. for security on protocols of distancing, De-escalation and conflict management.
  2. Building Reopening Plans: publicly available no less than 2 weeks before reopening, and should cover the following:
      1. Social distancing policies and protocols – control inside building and at entrance, elevators and stairwells, nearby parking and sidewalks.
      2. Screening before entry of building, with touchless thermal scanners
      3. Policy on visitors and delivery persons
      4. High frequency for cleaning for decontamination and high-touch surfaces. 
  3. Fair Standards for essential workers
    1. Prevailing/Standard Wage. essential property service workers are paid no less than the prevailing or standard wage applicable to publicly contracted workers performing the same work, and airport workers need $15 and healthcare by MAC policy.
    2. “Essential Pay.” “Essential Pay” premium for essential property service workers.
    3. Quarantine Pay. All essential property service workers should be provided with no less than 14 days of paid quarantine leave.
    4. Employee Temperature Checks. If an employee has a fever and cannot work, that employee should be sent home with pay.
    5. Access to Vaccines and Testing All essential property service workers should have priority access to vaccines/testing (in appropriate line w/ 1st responders).
    6. More Staffing
      1. for decontamination:  Most buildings are being cleaned at levels appropriate for dusting.  Staffing to the level of daily decontamination will require a significant increase in resources. Cleaners in the building doing the work now must be at the table with contractors, and building ownership to set the right levels for the challenges of this moment.
      2. for enforcement of distancing:  this is not achievable with current staffing levels.
    7. Essential worker councils should be created by the government to decide & enforce these standards.
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“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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