February 2012

Vote now for pro-worker candidates in Illinois!

It’s time for us to come out and support the candidates who support working people. Use this link to locate your polling place. Early voting runs till March 15–don’t forget to make your voice heard!

Here is the list of candidates who have demonstrated strong voting records on issues related to income equality, affordable housing, consumer protections and other needs that help keep working families and their communities stable, healthy, and safe, earning the SEIU Illinois State Council’s endorsement.

U.S. House of Representatives
1st District Bobby Rush (D)
2nd District Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D)
3rd District Dan Lipinski (D)
4th District Luis Gutierrez (D)
5th District Mike Quigley (D)
7th District Danny Davis (D)
8th District Tammy Duckworth (D)
9th District Jan Schakowsky  (D)
11th District Bill Foster (D)
Illinois House of Representatives
7th District Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D)
10th District Derrick Smith (D)
14th District Kelly Cassidy (D)
21st District Rudy Lozano (D)
22nd District Michael Madigan (D)
23rd District Michael Zalewski (D)
24th District Elizabeth Hernandez (D)
26th District Christian Mitchell (D)
27th District Monique Davis (D)
28th District Robert Rita (D)
32nd District Andre Thapedi (D)
38th District Al Riley (D)
39th District Toni Berrios (D)
67th District Chuck Jefferson (D)
72nd District Patrick Verschoore (D)
78th District Camille Lilly (D)
96th District Sue Scherer (D)
Illinois State Senate
1st District Tony Munoz (D)
5th District Annazette Collins (D)
14th District Emil Jones III (D)
22nd District Michael Noland (D)
31st District Melinda Bush (D)
36th District Mike Jacobs (D)
46th District Dave Koehler (D)
48th District Andy Manar  (D)
57th District James Clayborne (D)
59th District Gary Forby (D)
Cook County Elections
Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez (D)
Cook County Recorder Karen Yarbrough
Cook County Water Reclamation Debra Shore (D)
Cook County Water Reclamation Patricia Horton (D)
City of Chicago Committeeman
5th Ward Leslie Hairston (D)
6th Ward Roderick Sawyer (D)
28th Ward Jason Ervin (D)
36th Ward Nick Sposato (D)
45th Ward John Arena (D)

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Candidates, Lawmakers Walk a Day in Our Shoes

This primary season, candidates and lawmakers seeking re-election are getting hands-on experience learning the role home care programs play in the lives of seniors and people with disabilities in Illinois.  Several political hopefuls agreed to participate in ‘Walk a Day in Our Shoes’ events around the state, where they spend a few hours with a local Personal Assistant and consumer in order to fully understand the vital need for home care services.

Personal Assistant Haley Stokes, Consumer Jaiden Harriott, and State Senate Candidate Marla Wilson

“Making sure our lawmakers understand what’s at stake is paramount to protecting our jobs and quality care,” said Haley Stokes, a Personal Assistant in Rockford.  “Connecting candidates with the consumers we serve and the work we do ensures that our voices are heard and our message gets out.”

During these events, candidates perform services for home care consumers and get a chance to hear personal stories about the devastating impact cuts to the program would have on that individual consumer, their families, and their communities.  In addition, Personal Assistants demonstrate their commitment to providing quality care and explain how cuts would hurt them as well, in the form of fewer hours to work and maybe even a loss of employment.

In Springfield, Personal Assistant Kevin Holmes and his consumer Ed Vorties hosted state representative candidate Sue Scherer.  Scherer performed the services Holmes normally would for Mr. Vorties, like meal preparation and cleaning around the house.

“I was in a nursing home at one point and I am not interested in going back,” Mr. Vorties explained to Scherer.  “I want to remain in my own home and in my community where I contribute by serving as an Assistant Minister at my church and volunteering my time as a Sunday school teacher.  Cuts to home care funding would mean a loss of independence for me and a loss to my community as well.”

“Nursing homes can be an important resource for people who need round-the-clock care,” added Holmes, “but people deserve to have a choice if they want to remain in their own homes and can do so with some assistance from a personal assistant like me.  The idea of taking that choice

Personal Assistant Kevin Holmes, Consumer Ed Vorties, and State Rep. Candidate Sue Scherer

away from someone like Mr. Vorties is wrong, and that’s why we want to make sure our lawmakers understand that cuts to home care will have devastating effects.”

Sue Scherer got the message and pledged to fight hard in Springfield to protect home care funding if elected.  Check out Channel 3’s coverage of the event here.

In Rockford, three candidates vying for a state senate seat also took part in these events.  Candidates Dan Lewandowski, Steve Stadelman, and Marla Wilson each joined local home care workers and consumers from Rockford, seeing firsthand how home care services support people with disabilities in their community.  In the southwestern region of the state, home care consumer Sandretta Howard and her Personal Assistant Silda Chapple will host State Senator James Clayborne.  Finally, State Senator Gary Forby will participate in March with a local Carbondale consumer and home care worker.  These statewide activities are one more way Personal Assistants and consumers are fighting back against budget cuts and helping to protect the future of the DORS program.

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Kids Understand Tax Fairness

We are pleased to post the following commentary from Leary Ann Crawford, a home care aide and HCII member organizer helping to build community in Chicago’s 6th Ward.  Leary Ann’s letter was originally submitted to the Chicago Tribune for consideration.

Two articles in the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 15th, one about tax fairness, the other about preschoolers learning finance, could have easily appeared side by side.  The first was a front page story about a statewide poll that showed 3 in 5 voters believe that the present tax code favors the rich, which it clearly does.

Readers should look no further for evidence than the massive tax breaks worth over $85 million given to CME Group which runs the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, even though the corporation made over $900 million in profit in 2010.  But the more interesting story, “Preschoolers get a lesson in finance,” quoted Joanne Dempsey, executive director of Eco Illinois as saying, “No matter what our financial situation is, we really cannot have everything we want. We have choices to make.”

This point being taught to young children should also be understood by lawmakers in Springfield.

State budgets are about priorities.  When we refuse to ask millionaires to pay their fair share in taxes and turn right around and cut access to health care for low-income families and seniors, or early childhood education, we are making “destructive choices.”

As a homecare worker on the South Side, I help vulnerable people with daily tasks to give them a quality of life.  I pay my taxes and struggle to make ends meet.  Why do we allow millionaires and large corporations to continue to manipulate our tax code for their own benefit while working people struggle just to get by?

It’s simply not fair. Even a three-year-old understands that.

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Budget proposal exposes problems with Illinois’ unfair income tax system

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2012

CONTACT: Mike Truppa, (312) 296-1956, mike.truppa@seiuhcil.org

In response to Governor Quinn’s budget address, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, issued the following statement:

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In painting a bleak picture of the state’s finances, the governor’s budget proposal is another glaring illustration of why Illinois must make the rich pay their fair share in income tax.

As long as our state is a place where millionaires and greedy corporations exploit loopholes to pay effectively less in taxes than the middle class and lower-income families, we will be doomed to an endless cycle of funding shortages that lead to the kind of crippling cuts proposed today.

Just two months ago, Illinois lawmakers doled out more than $100 million in tax breaks to CME Group and Sears Holding Corp., purportedly to keep both employers in the state.   Together, this giveaway totals a staggering $1 billion in the first 10 years, alone.  CME earned $900 million in profits last year.  For its part, Sears took its tax break and promptly announced store closures that will decimate its workforce.  That bait-and-switch exemplifies on how the state’s current tax policy makes winners of the rich and losers of the 99 percent.

And now those losses appear destined to mount.  The proposed $2.7 billion reduction in Medicaid obligations could drastically reduce access to quality health care for working families already struggling to make ends meet in a faltering economy.   It also raises questions about whether the safety net hospitals that support working class communities might suddenly find their own survival at risk.  We need to protect these vital resources that provide critical care and jobs in our communities.

After the last several years of budget cuts failed to solve our fiscal woes, we should know by now that a renewal of this approach is going to yield the same result.  In fact, if the economy is going to going to get back on its feet, we must stand up for working families – not cut them off at the knees.

We should not in good conscience heap $100 million in tax breaks on a financial colossus like CME, or a retain empire like Sears, while forcing families of modest means to give up even more in a climate of economic deprivation.

The Civic Federation and others who have advocated for drastic cuts should be asked why it’s fair to make working families sacrifice their health care and other vital needs while asking nothing more from the greedy CEOs and other corporate executives who caused our economy to implode.

This skewed approach can cause a chain reaction of inequality for the middle class and working families:  They’re penalized first by an unfair tax system that goes easy on the rich, and again by budget cuts needed to compensate for what the rich don’t pay.

If we’re ever going to balance our budget in Springfield, we need to restore balance to the discussion about how to do it.  That begins by shifting the focus from a cuts-only ideology to a core principle of equality:  making the rich pay their fair share in taxes.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana unites more than 91,000 healthcare, home care, nursing home and child care workers across two states in the fight to raise standards across industries, to strengthen the political voice for working families and for access to quality, affordable care for all families.

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“Nothing stops a bullet like a job”: 6th ward residents unite against gun violence, unemployment

Child care, home care, nursing home, and hospital workers organized a candlelight vigil against gun violence in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood this month, highlighting a need for greater job opportunities to keep young people away from gangs.

Members of SEIU and the Chatham community displayed flyers about the connections between gun violence and a lack of economic opportunity in the community.

Members of SEIU and the Chatham neighborhood displayed flyers about the connections between gun violence and a lack of economic opportunity in the community.

Members held the vigil on the site of a tragic shooting. On Nov. 5th, 2011, three innocent bystanders, two men and one woman, all in their 20s, were killed in the parking lot of Church’s Chicken and A Piece of Cake bakery on 87th and South King Drive.  The woman who was slain was picking up a birthday cake for her two-year-old daughter. No one has been charged in the shooting.

Several residents of the 6th Ward who have been shot, or whose loved ones have been shot, spoke about the physical and psychological pain of dealing with shootings in their neighborhoods. Home care worker Cynthia Youngblood, who also works part-time for Chicago Public Schools helping special needs children, almost lost her 17-year-old daughter when she was shot twice by random gunfire last June. Her daughter Diamond was hospitalized for 15 days and still needs crutches. Seven months later, Cynthia still has to take significant time off work, unpaid, in order to take her daughter to physical rehabilitation, counseling and medical visits.

“Every time I take my daughter to physical rehab or counseling it means I’m not able to work. We struggle to get by. Those two bullets did a lot of damage to my daughter and to our family,” said Youngblood. “Why are we dealing with random gunfire in our neighborhoods? We need to build-up our communities by creating jobs, not tearing our neighborhoods apart,” Youngblood said.

6th ward alderman Roderick Sawyer came out to support our anti-violence initiative.

6th ward alderman Roderick Sawyer came out to support our anti-violence initiative.

Child care worker Jacqueline Smith was shot in the back in September 2008 in the Gresham neighborhood.  Jacqueline, who had just watched the four young children that she was caring for leave her home, was struck by a stray bullet that almost punctured her lung. Three other bullets struck the outside of her house but the children weren’t injured. Jacqueline eventually moved her child care service to the 6th Ward, thinking it would be a safer and quieter place to continue her business, but she worries that the community where she wanted to restart her life is becoming more and more dangerous.

“Let’s be honest, we have too many young men who don’t have jobs and don’t see any way that they can contribute their lives towards a future. We simply can’t allow our young people to slip through the cracks because they can’t find meaningful work,” said Smith, who could not attend the vigil but offered a statement. “If we want to reduce violence, we have to start by giving people a purpose and a job with a livable wage.”

The candlelight ceremony will be the first of many opportunities for members, residents and community partners to become involved in actions against neighborhood violence and the lack of job opportunities that allows it to flourish. Members are creating a community-based coalition in the 6th Ward to advocate for solutions, aiming to mobilize union members and to partner with interfaith groups and churches, non-profit organizations, small businesses, and civic leaders to create jobs, improve schools, reduce home foreclosures, prevent violence, and encourage economic development and investment in the 6th Ward.

Watch Alderman Sawyer and Cynthia and Diamond Youngblood address gun violence in their community:

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Child care providers win rate increase!

Child care providers united in SEIU Healthcare Illinois received a 3% rate increase, effective Jan. 1, 2012 that will be reflected in our February checks. The rate increase – the 5th increase in our current contract, with two more increases still to come – is possible because of our strong, united stand to win a good contract. (more…)

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