To Stop Unfair Budget Cuts to Vital Programs, Seniors, People with Disabilities Get Arrested at Board of Trade Demonstration While Children, Parents and Child Care Providers Hold Massive Rally in Downtown Chicago
(May 23, 2012, Chicago) — Mike Ervin sat upright in his wheelchair in front of the Chicago Board of Trade. He offered a poetic opening in what would become a day-long series of protests to demand that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (owned by CME Group) give back its corporate tax breaks on the day of the company’s shareholder meeting.
“A home care worker came and got me out of bed this morning. Another home care worker will come in tonight and help me get back into bed. I am able to do everything I can do because a home care worker comes into my home. And that is how it will be for the rest of my life.”
Ervin, and literally thousands of protesters, called on CME to give back its tax breaks in order to stop the state of Illinois from slashing home care programs that help seniors and those with disabilities. Ervin said that CME Group doesn’t need, nor deserve, its estimated $1 billion tax cut over the next 10 years, especially after the corporation earned nearly $2 billion in profits in 2011 alone.
Fifteen protesters were arrested, including three individuals in wheelchairs, when they first blocked the door to the Chicago Board of Trade and then refused to move from Jackson Blvd in downtown Chicago. Home care programs are facing $210 million in state budget cuts that could impact 90,000 citizens.
Hours later, a massive rally was held at the Thompson Center, the State of Illinois Building, to fight $85 million in cuts to child care programs that support working parents, especially single moms. Even though CME Group is the most profitable corporation in the state, the cuts could impact 160,000 kids, which advocates pointed to as the very definition of unfairness.
The rally to stop child care cuts provided a carnival-like atmosphere for the children and parents to make their voices heard in a playful fashion which included balloons, a tug-of-war against a giant puppet representing a CEO, a game of “duck, duck, taxes,” and a march around the Thompson Center where children blew whistles sounding the alarm to stop the cuts.
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Child Care Providers and Parents Applaud State Emergency Funding, But Vow to Fight Deep Cuts in Next Year’s Budget
SEIU’s Child Care Providers and Parents Mobilized On Massive Scale to Win Emergency Funding After State Said It Ran Out of Money to Pay Providers Until July 1st
(May 18, 2012, Springfield, IL) – Illinois took a crucial first step toward preventing a surge in unemployment Friday when legislators passed a supplemental spending bill to plug a $73 million shortage in funding for child care providers around the state. But SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, which represents over 35,000 home-based child care providers, warned that working parents continue to face threats to their job security unless lawmakers restore $85 million in cuts to child care funding included in Gov. Pat Quinn’s FY 2013 budget.
Child care providers and parents called such budget cuts “completely unacceptable” and said that slashing vital assistance would devastate working parents, especially single moms who are trying to go to school and work to support their families.
“We applaud lawmakers for sparing child care providers and the parents who rely on these vital programs from a potentially crippling three-month delay in payments this year,” said Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana. “We must fully fund the child care system in Illinois and keep working families on the job and in school where they can contribute to our economic growth.”
The state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) supports more than 85,000 working families and 160,000 children. CCAP is intended to promote employment in Illinois by providing working families with resources that they need to hold down a job or finish school. If the state cuts CCAP, it will fuel joblessness among people who are willing and able to work.
“Working parents can breathe a sigh of relief that their child care providers won’t immediately shutdown. But we must be vigilant because our programs are still at risk of being slashed in the Governor’s budget,” said Annie Yarbary, a home-based child care provider in Decatur. “These cuts could result in working parents, and especially single moms, being unable to go back to school and who are desperately trying to improve their lives. This is why we are fighting for those without a voice. ”
“Our state should not be slashing early education programs for our children that teach and empower them for future success. It’s not right, and it’s not fair,” said Angela Bradley, a child care provider in Danville. “Our state has a revenue crisis and our children are being hurt because corporations and the rich in Illinois don’t pay their fair share of the tax burden to invest in our children’s future.”
Providers said that state cutbacks are also incredibly shortsighted. Child care programs help parents work, contribute to the economy, and are key investments in children’s education. These investments save taxpayers money by reducing special education, remediation and juvenile justice costs in the long term.
“Cutting child care assistance will devastate the parents and the children of Illinois, and cost the taxpayers more money in the long run,” said Faith Arnold, a child care provider in Bellwood, outside of Chicago. “Times are already hard for the families that we care for and support – they have few choices as it is. Our politicians are neglecting their responsibilities when they refuse to tax the rich in order to fund child care programs that will give children early learning opportunities to strengthen their education.”
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.
More than 1,200 health care, home care, and child care providers traveled to Springfield on May 15 to speak out against massive budget cuts that threaten Illinois’ working families, seniors, and people with disabilities. Members delivered more than 12,000 postcards from Illinois residents against these cuts to Governor Pat Quinn’s office.
“Each and every one of us got on a bus early this morning to come here and make sure our voices are heard. Our presence here today reaffirms our values – doing what’s right for seniors, people with disabilities, kids and working parents, providing quality care for the people of Illinois, and fighting for fairness in our communities,” said child care provider Faith Davis.
In recent weeks, child care providers have been fighting an immediate budget shortfall that could leave them without pay till June, threatening to shut down the Illinois child care system that working parents depend on. But proposed cuts to next year’s budget would affect our entire membership, with cuts to home care, Medicare, and Medicaid putting thousands of people who use home care, nursing homes, and community hospitals in danger.
“I’ve worked at Mt. Sinai for 13 years and have been a patient for 25 years. If these budget cuts go through, it will be drastic for our community. Our state doesn’t have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem,” said Sansaree Brinson, a Chicago hospital worker. Throughout the day, members called on legislators to support a fair tax system in Illinois that puts community resources before tax breaks for rich corporations.
See our members in action:
Member activists spent this spring fighting to raise the minimum wage to $8.25/hour in Missouri and working to make sure reforms of the predatory payday lender industry are passed. SEIU Healthcare MO and the Missouri Home Care Union members helped collect over 350,000 signatures that were delivered to the Secretary of State on May 6th. Upon certification of these signatures, Missouri voters will be allowed to decide these two critical issues at the ballot box in November.
Home care attendant Valerie Gordon spent the last several months tirelessly gathering signatures and has had firsthand experience as a minimum wage worker in Missouri. Below is Valerie’s testimony from the day the signatures were submitted.
“I have spent the last several months gathering signatures in support of a raise to our state’s minimum wage – I went to churches, to parades, to my friends, neighbors, and co-workers; everyday Missourians who know firsthand why our state needs a raise. I have been married to these petitions and let’s just say I’m ready for a divorce – it’s time to turn them in so the voters of our state can decide on this issue at the ballot box next November.
Right now a minimum wage worker in Missouri earns barely $15,000 a year working full-time and that’s not enough money to live on when the cost of everything else continues to increase. Almost half a million Missouri families would get a raise through this initiative, which would bolster our state’s economy and put working people first.
I have been one of Missouri’s minimum wage workers for a long time and I can attest to the struggles that come with increasing cost of living and stagnant wages. In 2003 I made $6.65 an hour and did not get a raise until our federal minimum wage laws increased to $7.25 in 2009. Since then I have only had a thirteen cent increase and I face difficult decisions everyday about which bills to pay. When I get sick I have to decide whether I can spare the $35 to see a doctor at the clinic on top of the cost of gas it would take me to get there. If I’m too sick to go to work and cannot get the care I need, my client suffers and I don’t get paid at all.
I’ve been a home care attendant for 20 years and I’m still living in poverty. Missouri workers need a raise and I’m proud to be standing here today when we take the first step in direction of accomplishing this goal.”
This week in six cities across the state, people with disabilities, home care workers, and disability rights advocates united to denounce proposed cuts to home care services. In Springfield, Rockford, Marion, Peoria, Chicago, and East St. Louis workers and consumers held protests outside of state offices, DRS offices, and at the Thompson Center in Chicago calling on Governor Quinn to stop cuts to home care and invest in good jobs for home care workers. Activists collected signatures on letters that were faxed to Governor Quinn and brandished signs reminding onlookers that ‘there’s no place like home.’
As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, mothers who rely on home care like Pat Whitman in Rockford also took the opportunity to speak out about the fact that home care services allow her to remain living in her home, surrounded by family and
loved ones. “My home care worker allows me to stay in my community and with my family, where I want to be. Cuts to home care services would not only end the independence I enjoy right now, but would also cut me off from my children because I’d be forced into institutional care. These cuts are wrong for Illinois – the services people like me receive are critical to our lives,” Whitman said.
Rockford home care worker Heather Lindstrom also shared her perspective as a mother who relies on her job through the Home ServicesProgram to support her family. “My consumer relies on me for a lot and I take pride in the quality care I provide for her. It’s getting harder and harder to get her everything she needs in the hours I’m allowed to work and talk about cuts would mean her hours would be slashed even further, and she won’t get the care she needs. It would also make it much harder for me to support my family with even lower take home pay,” said Lindstrom. “We need to invest in quality home care services and jobs.”
Check out the video below from the action at the JR Thompson Center in Chicago:
On Tuesday, hundreds of Missouri students, retirees, jobless workers, shareholders, and SEIU HCII members joined a national wave of growing discontent targeting corporate tax-dodging and the devastating impact it has on our communities. In Kansas City, 200 protestors swarmed the Great Plains Energy shareholder meeting demanding that the greedy utility company pay its fair share and stop making kids, seniors, and struggling families suffer through lost revenue and social programs cut to the bone.
35 shareholders attended the meeting and voiced opposition to corporate leaders, before being escorted out. Mic checks, testimonials, and poignant questions from unhappy shareholders were too much for the corporate leaders who like business as usual like CEO Michael Chesser, who raked in $11.9 million during 2008-2010.
EVS Technician Ed Hayes, an HCII member from Menorah Medical Center, was one of the shareholders who attended the meeting on Tuesday and described his participation as, “a really positive experience.”
“Actions like the one at Great Plains Energy is exactly how we get this message out to the public,” said Hayes. “Corporations that are dodging taxes need to be held accountable and standing up and speaking out is how we do that. We brought our message to their front door when we attended the shareholder meeting and they had to hear us.”
Expelled shareholders were greeted by a banner drop, signs highlighting facts like how many teachers that could have been hired if Great Plains paid their fair share, and chants of “Corporate taxes must be paid, people’s lives are not for trade!”
We’re acting now to fight off devastating cuts to child care in Illinois. Sign up here to join us in Springfield on May 15th, and do your part for kids, working parents, and providers in Illinois.
Parents and child care providers across the state hit the ground running after Wednesday’s announcement that a $73 million shortfall in the Illinois budget could leave providers without pay until July– on top of a proposed $85 million cut to the Child Care Assistance Program in FY13– creating a crisis for parents, children and providers.
“There’s no way I can pay my mortgage if we can’t stop these cuts—the bank doesn’t want to hear that the state can’t pay me,” said Victoria Williams, a home child care provider on Chicago’s South Side. “If I have to close down, parents are going to lose their jobs, because other daycare centers won’t be accepting new kids knowing that they won’t be able to support them.”
“It’s up to us as parents and providers to make sure our lawmakers understand just how devastating this is to all of us,” Vanessa said.
Watch Vanessa’s story, which appeared on Fox’s 12 o’ clock news the day after the state announced the shortfall. Several other news outlets around the state have approached providers and parents to learn how Illinois residents will suffer from this budget disaster.
Home child care provider Pamela Franks is holding a meeting for parents and providers at her home in Springfield to involve working families in the fight to protect the Child Care Assistance Program.
“I’ve been a child care provider for seventeen years, I’m a single mom, and I rely solely on child care payments for my income. Since I got this announcement from the state yesterday, I’m worrying not just about how I’m going to feed my own kids and keep my lights on, but about the five families I care for who are going to suffer because they’ll lose their jobs if I can’t keep going,” Pamela said.
“I just started calling and emailing newspapers with my story because we’ve got to make lawmakers see the ripple effect this crisis could have on the state,” Pamela said.
More than 35,000 child care providers could be put out of business by this funding shortage, leaving more than 85,000 working parents out of options for childcare when they need to get to work. On May 15, we’re rallying in Springfield to stand up for the thousands of Illinois families who will be devastated by these cuts.
This week hundreds of home care workers, seniors, and people with disabilities took to the Capitol to fight back proposed cuts to home care funding. Supporters rode buses in from around the state and kicked off the day with a rally outside the statehouse, before heading in to talk with lawmakers face to face about the devastating effects the proposed cuts would have on seniors and people with disabilities who count on home care workers to help them continue living independently at home.
Governor Quinn has proposed $150 million in service and eligibility cuts to the Community Care Program that seniors rely on. These cuts would impact up to 8,000 new seniors that will not be able to access the program and would mean fewer hours of care for seniors who are already enrolled.
In addition, the Governor’s proposed budget includes huge cuts to the DHS-DRS Home Services Program that provides access to home care services for people with disabilities in Illinois. The proposed $60.5 million in service and eligibility cuts would kick thousands of people with disabilities out of the program, prevent thousands from entering and receiving the services they need, and drastically reduce services for over 14,000 consumers.