This week, 64 workers at Centers for New Horizons in Chicago voted to join together in SEIU, giving them the strength they need to fight for better conditions, better supplies, dignity and respect, and a real voice on the job.
“One of our teachers also works as a home child care provider with SEIU, and my mom was a nursing home steward for SEIU for 30 years, so I knew these were the people to help us get things done,” said teacher Evelyn Smith. “Once we all decided to organize, we got started right away and didn’t stop working till we won our union.”
CNH workers were motivated to get together in part because of supply shortages at the center.
“When we enroll parents, we tell them we’ll provide things like diapers and milk, but management would tell us to ask parents to bring those things when we ran short,” Smith said. “That’s not right. Those parents are barely making ends meet as it is.”
“Now that we’re together, we’ll have a say over things like breaks, meals, supplies, and vacation time. Our center is going to grow and shine!” said teacher Geraldine Robinson.
Personal Assistants are busy negotiating a strong new contract with the state right now, while fighting back budget cuts that could threaten our jobs and our consumer’s independence.
We decided our top priorities for this contract were:
It’s also important to fight back against Medicaid cuts in DC, create a fair tax system in Illinois so that home care is properly funded, and to support people with disabilities living in our communities. There’s a lot at stake and protecting what we’ve already fought hard to win will be a challenge in itself, but winning a strong contract is paramount to the continuation of quality care for our consumers.
Our last two contracts showed the strength we have when we stick together; we achieved incredible gains like significant raises, access to healthcare for the first time ever, and funds for a training program that helps us deliver better quality care to our consumers.
But this fight is unlike any other we’ve faced and it’s going to take all of us and our consumers to win. We’re up against our state’s struggling economy and greedy corporations that want more tax breaks on the backs of working families. That’s why PAs and consumers are stepping up around the state and taking action to protect our program and make sure the rich pay their fair share so Personal Assistants and consumers aren’t punished with devastating budget cuts.
“We are tired of handouts to greedy banks and corporations that wrecked our economy coming before quality home care in Illinois. This fight is bigger than a strong contract; it’s about changing our state’s priorities,” said Sharon Walker, a Personal Assistant in Chicago.
Recently, thousands of PAs got on an important call with home care workers across the state to share ideas and questions about our fight ahead to stop budget cuts. Over 3,000 of us committed to taking action during this interactive conversation. Then, hundreds of consumers and PAs converged in Springfield to lobby our lawmakers and rally in support of home care funding protection.
In communities across the state, members are also meeting locally with our lawmakers to make the case for the vital
services we provide. In Springfield, Carbondale, Rockford, and Metro East, Personal Assistants and consumers invited local lawmakers and candidates to ‘walk a day in our shoes.’ Our senators, representatives, and political candidates heard firsthand why the home care program must be protected and the impact that cuts would have on our communities. Members are also taking our message to the public by holding press conferences and joining actions to call on the richest of the rich to pay their fair share so the state can continue investment in vital human service programs like home care.
This fight is far from over and we need everyone to get involved if we’re going to win! Call the SEIU Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to learn how you can make your voice heard!