December 2012

Thousands of PAs Ratify New Contract with 99% Voting ‘YES’

Members of the DORS bargaining team after counting the ratification ballots.

Thousands of Personal Assistants in Illinois voted to ratify a new 3-year agreement with 99% voting ‘yes’ last week!

Together PAs achieved a new contract that:

-Raises wages to $13/hour, a 12.5% increase over 3 years;

-Protects the health insurance fund and expands access to new PAs;

-Protects funding for the training program and includes funding to start an orientation program for newly hired PAs;

-Strengthens language around job security and Union rights to ensure we have a powerful voice to continue to move home care forward.

Settling this contract was no easy feat, it took months of mounting pressure from thousands of PAs and consumers who were determined to stand up for living wages and quality home care. It also took a strong and determined bargaining committee that fought back against Governor Quinn’s wage freeze proposal both at the table and back in their communities.

“We beat back the wage freeze that the State proposed and won raises that will get us up to $13/hour in 2014. We’ve come a long way since we started organizing and PAs were making $1/hour,” said Flora Johnson, a PA from Chicago and member of the bargaining committee.

Many PAs owned a piece of this victory with 12,000 logging personal phone calls to Governor Quinn, thousands getting on buses and traveling to Springfield, and dozens more who took part in delegations directly to Governor Quinn’s offices carrying our message for living wages and quality home care services for people with disabilities.

“The action that PAs took throughout this campaign is what made the difference,” explained Carol Buckley from Decatur, another PA who served on the bargaining committee. “Our committee was at the table sharing our stories and pushing back on unacceptable proposals, while thousands around the State were either making calls or stopping by for in person visits with the Governor’s staff carrying the same message. When we’re united nothing can stop us.”

With the contract fight behind us, 2013 holds new challenges. The Home Services Program is underfunded by $40 million and lawmakers need to pass additional funding so thousands of people with disabilities across our state don’t lose their independence and workers don’t lose hours and jobs. Our struggle unites us with workers across Illinois fighting for living wages and a just economy where everyone pays their fair share. Building off the momentum of our contract victory, we can push for an end to income inequality for all workers.

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In National Day of Action SEIU Healthcare Members Urge Congress to Focus on Jobs, Not Cuts

SEIU, Labor Allies and Community Groups Hold Rallies Nationwide to Protect Vital Safety Net Programs In ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Debate

(December 10th, 2012) — SEIU Healthcare members, working families and community groups organized scores of rallies, candlelight vigils, and marches to call on Congressional leaders and Senators to focus on creating jobs instead of cutting vital programs such as Medicaid and Medicare as part of any ‘fiscal cliff’ deal. The “Day of Action” yesterday produced an overwhelming amount of press coverage across Illinois and Missouri in addition to other states.

For example, HCII organized a successful rally in Carbondale, Illinois outside of Senator Durbin’s office that generated remarkable news coverage.  Janna Miller, an agency home care worker, was interviewed on local CBS 12 and ABC 3.  It was also covered by the Southern Illinoisan newspaper and the local NPR affiliate WSIU. And to top it off the Associated Press posted this headline, “Fiscal Cliff Provides Bleak Outlook for Illinois

Safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide a critical lifeline for Illinoisans. According to a report by the AFL-CIO:

  • 2,033,345 Illinoisans receive monthly Social Security checks, including 274,692 workers with disabilities and 160,257 children;
  • 1,789,800 Illinoisans get their health care coverage from Medicare;
  • 2,698,787 Illinoisans get their health care coverage from Medicaid, including 1,469,950 children and 209,610 seniors.

In addition, cuts to Medicaid would hurt Illinois’s economy and threaten quality jobs.  If federal Medicaid funding to states was cut by just 5%, more than 146,000 Illinoisans in the health care industry will lose their jobs over the next five years according to the Economic Policy Institute. In addition the same 5% cut in federal Medicaid would reduce Illinois aid by $27.8 billion over the next 10 years and result in major shortfalls in the Illinois state budget which is already suffering from drastic state budget cuts and $8 billion in unpaid bills.

“Putting people back to work gives individuals a sense of pride about themselves.  It’s about self-respect,” said Tiki Tunstall a child care provider who rallied in Carbondale.  “The more people who work means more customers for small businesses which also means growing a stronger economy. When we put individuals to work we are investing in our future.”

Advocates rallied in every Illinois media market drawing enormous media attention in the fight to protect to vital services that support low-income families, children and seniors such as in Rockford and the Quad Cities.  In Peoria  union members called on Congressman Aaron Schock to support tax breaks for the 98% of middle class workers.

In Springfield, SEIU Healthcare and SEIU local 73 partnered with other labor allies interfaith leaders to hold a rally urging Senator Durbin not to accept a “bad deal” that will result in cuts to vital programs.  NBC Ch 17 did a live interview from the rally.

“It is completely unfair and counterproductive to use the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ as a reason to slash vital safety net programs,” said Union Baptist Pastor T. Ray McJunkins, President of Faith Coalition for the Common Good. “We shouldn’t be trying to balance our budget on the backs of seniors, low-income families, and vulnerable children. It’s not right.”

“We need jobs and economic growth and our communities need it now,” said Kevin Holmes, a union member with SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “We are still feeling the pain from the worst economic recession in 70 years.  Cutting Medicaid and Medicare is simply not a solution for those Americans who desperately need assistance.”

In Missouri members joined faith leaders, community activists, and other allies across the state at press conferences in St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Columbia, and Jefferson City to urge Congress to reach a fair deal in fiscal cliff negotiations that protects vital services and makes the rich pay their fair share.

Supporters called on Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, and Representatives Emmanuel Cleaver, Jo Ann Emerson, Vicky Hartzler, and Blaine Luetkemeyer to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and education, programs that millions of Missourians count on every day.

In St. Louis, Ella Giles, a home care worker and member of the Missouri Home Care Union, participated in the press conference, sharing her perspective as a caregiver serving seniors who rely on Social Security and Medicaid.

“With any cuts to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the seniors and people that I care for would be forced to choose between whether or not they pay rent, buy groceries or purchase their critical prescriptions,” said Giles. “That’s not a choice we should be forcing our seniors to make just so that we can give another tax break to the wealthiest two-percent.”

Hundreds of letters were delivered to Senator McCaskill’s office immediately following the press conference that were collected from local constituents threatened by looming cuts as the fiscal cliff negotiations continue.

SEIU said it was mobilizing members and planning more actions to continue the fight to protect vital safety net programs leading up to the fiscal cliff.

“Now is not the time to choke off our progress by suddenly implementing a misguided plan to slash safety net programs in the name of deficit reduction. Instead, we must pursue a robust strategy to put Americans back to work, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and invest in our communities,” said Kevin Schott, a former fire fighter and now a labor organizer with SEIU local 73.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Press Release: SEIU Healthcare Illinois Praises State Senate Vote to Allow All Illinois Motorists to Obtain Driver’s Licenses

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Mike Truppa, Mike.Truppa@seiuhcil.org
Scott Vogel, scott.vogel@seiuhcil.org

Providing a Path for Undocumented Residents to Obtain Driver’s Licenses and Purchase Car Insurance Will Dramatically Improve Highway Safety.  Advocates Call on Illinois State Representatives to Immediately Pass Highway Safety Bill

(December 4, 2012, CHICAGO) – Today the state senate passed important highway safety legislation that would permit all Illinois motorists, including undocumented residents, to obtain driver’s licenses and purchase car insurance.  SEIU Healthcare Illinois, along with the statewide “Highway Safety Coalition,” called on the House of Representatives to immediately take up and pass this historic highway safety bill.

According to the Highway Safety Coalition, Illinois law requires anyone applying for a driver’s license to provide a Social Security number (SSN). This law prevents 250,000 Illinois immigrant motorists who cannot get SSNs from getting licenses— even though they need to drive to support their families. These unlicensed, uninsured drivers are involved in 79,600 accidents each year, costing $660 million in damage claims. Nationwide, unlicensed motorists are five times likelier to be involved in a fatal crash than licensed drivers.

In response to the state senate’s vote, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the state senate for passing important legislation today that will improve Illinois’ highway safety.  By providing a path for all motorists to obtain driver’s licenses and to buy car insurance, our elected officials rightfully put politics aside and focused on pragmatic solutions that will save lives.  This is the right time to finally enact this vital legislation and the House should not delay in passing it.

“With today’s vote, the senate took a dramatic step towards treating all Illinois residents with decency and respect. This historic bill begins a bipartisan approach to reforming our immigration issue by bringing undocumented residents from out of the shadows and fully incorporating immigrant families into our communities.

“If there is one clear conclusion based on this year’s election, it is that our country, and our state, must enact sensible solutions that protect immigrant families and stop the endless attacks and blaming of undocumented workers. It’s time for the divisive and cynical politics around the immigration issue to stop and for Illinois, and our country, to enact reasonable immigration reform.  Enacting this crucial highway safety bill is a good start.”

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SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana unites more than 92,000 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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Growing by leaps and bounds: YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago child care providers win their union!

Vivian Clark

Vivian Clark

On November 30, child care and Head Start workers at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago voted overwhelmingly to join together in SEIU! This victory brings 170 new members from 13 YMCA child centers into the Child Care and Early Learning Division of SEIU HCII.

“Winning our union gives us the opportunity to face the issues we all face as child care providers together,” said Vivian Clark, an Administrative Aide at the Marshall Head Start site. “This victory was long overdue.”

“We’re excited to get working on a strong first contract, and uniting with other SEIU child care workers to make sure there’s a child care voice at the table when big decisions about the future of Head Start are made,” said Assistant Teacher Luvonne Howery at the North Lawndale location.

Congratulations to our 170 newest SEIU HCII members!
YMCA Head Start workers celebrating victory!

YMCA Head Start workers celebrating victory!

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