March 2013

Working Parents & Child Care Providers Unite in Springfield to Press for ‘Working Families Agenda’

MO Lobby day 3-12-2013

Watch Springfield ABC WICS Ch 20 report on our child care lobby day:

On March 21st, hundreds of child care providers, working parents, and kids united in Springfield to press for our ‘Working Families Agenda’, which includes a bill that would lower parent co-pays and expand access and eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program. Working parents and providers spoke out, sharing personal stories about why these reforms are so critical. See some of the testimony below:

 

Fatima Traore is a working, single mom from Moline and she shared her story with lawmakers in Springfield.
“I work 80 hours every 2 weeks,” explained Ms. Traore, “but one week I had the opportunity to work an extra day and make overtime. I struggle to make ends meet so I jumped on the opportunity for extra hours. Little did I know, those extra hours I worked would mean that I would lose the affordable child care that I rely on every day and be kicked out of the Child Care Assistance Program.”

Stories like Ms. Traore’s are far too common in Illinois, and thousands of other parents choose between co-payments and food on the table for their families.

Providers and parents also advocated for an increase in the state’s minimum wage so more Illinois families can bring home paychecks that can support a family, and a fair income tax system that would ensure wealthy individuals pay their fair share. With a fair income tax, programs like the Child Care Assistance Program wouldn’t be threatened by cuts year after year.

Our voices were heard in Springfield last week, but we need to make sure lawmakers got the message. We’re heading back to Springfield for our next Lobby Day on Thursday, May 16th. Click here to sign up and save a spot on the bus coming from your area!

Check out all the photos from Lobby Day below:

 

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Seniors ‘Sound the Alarm’ to State Lawmakers to Demand Emergency Funding for Home Care Services

DSC_0023Community Care Program in the Department of Aging Is Completely Out of Money as Political Stalemate Drags On

Our allies at the Jane Addams Senior Caucus held an incredible rally in downtown Chicago at the State of Illinois Building to call on state lawmakers to pass emergency funding to save our home care program that serves seniors.

Watch and share this video from the rally.

Seniors and community advocates blared alarm clocks outside the Thompson Center at the State of Illinois Building to literally ‘sound the alarm’ to state lawmakers that home care assistance for seniors is in crisis and needs emergency supplemental funding.  Seniors and community allies also delivered letters to the offices of Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Mike Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton demanding that state lawmakers act to protect seniors.

Emily Byrd, Chairperson of the Jane Adams Senior Caucus said in her letter to legislative leaders that: “If providing agencies are forced to cut back or stop services, it will have drastic impact on the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. It will also result in the unemployment of underemployment for the 25,000 workers who care for them. This is a situation the state cannot afford.” She added, “The personal cost of having to give up independence cannot be measured.”

On March 15th, the Community Care Program in the Department of Aging, completely ran out of money.  The state program funds home care for 80,000 seniors and allows them to live in their own homes instead of being forced into costly nursing home facilities.  In addition to protecting the dignity, privacy and security of seniors, home care assistance also saves the state hundreds of millions by avoiding costly institutional care.

The Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers (IACCPHP) says that without emergency funding the state’s home care system could collapse. The Association says that more than a third of its members have only 30 days to survive if the state’s funding is not restored immediately.

The Community Care Program through the Department on Aging serves seniors and faces a total shortfall of $313 million; $173 million in previous liability from FY12, and $140 million operating deficit in FY13.

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Service & Maintenance Workers at Touchette Regional Hospital Vote YES to Join HCII

photo 21Last week, Service & Maintenance employees at Touchette Regional Hospital voted ‘YES’ to join a group of co-workers who were already represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana. Existing HCII members came from Kenneth Hall, a hospital which was later closed and moved over to Touchette. Members found themselves in a situation where only 1 out of 3 employees were represented by our union and that made it difficult to win meaningful change.

The campaign centered on worker’s desire for a voice over issues that were impacting them, their families, and patients — things like jobs security, better working conditions, and better wages.

Hospital management fought workers hard, hiring a union-busting attorney to run their campaign. In the final weeks leading up to the election, workers were bombarded with anti-union materials, were forced to have one-on-one meetings with management, and some were even purportedly bribed with mileage money or being allowed to clock in early to vote no. Despite management’s attempts, workers prevailed and are now mobilizing to win a strong new contract.

McCray

 

“I would do anything to support my wife and sons,” said Ronald McCray who works in Materials Management at Touchette. “Organizing our union is a way for me to provide for them and make sure we have a brighter future. Surely management can easily take care of their families, and the rest of us should be able to do the same. By winning our union, we’ll now have a seat at the table and a say in how our hospital prioritizes spending.”

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UPDATE: Illinois’ Home Care Program that Serves Seniors Ran Out of Money – Lawmakers Must Pass Emergency Funding

Money_Runs_Out_Home_Care_Funding_Crisis_infographic_3facebook_banner_03_15_13UPDATE 2: As state lawmakers continue to dither around passing emergency funding to save our home care program that serves seniors, media attention continues to grow. (Scroll below to see a list of news clips to share on your social media channels).

State lawmakers must immediately pass a $173 million supplemental funding bill to save the Community Care Program (CCP).  This home care assistance allows seniors to live in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing home facilities.  The Department of Aging notified home care providers that the state completely ran out of money on March 15, over two weeks ago.

 UPDATE 1: Listen to WBEZ Public Radio’s report and interview with our home care member, Annette Jones, and Carl Cirillo, a senior who receives home care services:

The Illinois Department of Aging’s Community Care program, which pays for home health care workers for the elderly, has run out of money. Over 270 homecare agencies received a letter saying the state would not be able to pay them.

Annette Jones is a home care worker. She worries about who would care for the seniors she looks after if the program isn’t fixed.

“They won’t have anyone to do anything for them. I cook for them. I make sure I bathe them. They would be devastated,” Jones said. …

Carl Cirillo is one of 80,000 seniors who rely on the program. He worries about his aide. Some workers have gone months without payment.

“These people live paycheck to paycheck,” Cirillo said. “And it’s so unfair. She is always here, everyday, no matter what the weather or the circumstance. She works much too hard for the job.”

Overall the program saves the state money by keeping more seniors out of nursing homes.

Funding could be restored if legislatures grant a supplemental appropriation.

On March 15th, 2013, Illinois’ Community Care Program, which provides home care assistance to 80,000 seniors statewide, ran out of money.

In addition, the 25,000 home care workers who support them, were plunged into limbo as the state allowed funding for this vital program to lapse — despite ample forewarning to legislators that this crisis was about to erupt.

State lawmakers must pass emergency funding immediately to save and protect our seniors.

The $173 million cost of the emergency supplement equals approximately 0.5 percent of the state’s total budget.

If the state doesn’t make pass emergency funding to save the Community Care Program, it will incur larger costs in the form of nursing home expenditures and lost tax revenues from workers forced into unemployment or under-employment.

Here is what you can do to help to get the word out about this crisis:

We can’t put a price on the value of a senior’s independence.

It’s time we stop short-changing home care and pass emergency funding for the Community Care Program NOW!

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HCII Press Release: Fate of Seniors ‘In Limbo’ as State’s Home Care Program Runs Out of Money

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  IMG_1557

March 15, 2013

CONTACT: Mike Truppa, mike.truppa@seiuhcil.org

 

SPRINGFIELD, ILIllinois’ Community Care Program, which provides home care assistance to 80,000 seniors statewide, ran out of money today, despite ample forewarning to legislators that this crisis was about to erupt. In response, SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher released the following statement:

“Today, the fate of 80,000 Illinois seniors, and the 25,000 home care workers who support them, were plunged into limbo as the state allowed funding for the Community Care Program (CCP) to lapse.

“After inching closer to the brink for months, the program has now gone over its own fiscal cliff. We urge lawmakers to reverse course and preserve this crucial bulwark protecting seniors from the loss of their independence.

“Earlier this week the association representing agencies that provide home care warned legislators that, without passage of an emergency funding bill to plug the CCP deficit, Illinois risks “a collapse of the home care agency infrastructure.” If that occurs, seniors who depend on CCP for their independence could be forced into long-term institutional care that costs the state more money.

“Meanwhile, 25,000 low-income home care workers in our union will also see their economic security threatened.

“The $173 million cost of the emergency supplement equals approximately 0.5 percent of the state’s total budget. If the state doesn’t make this commitment, it will incur potentially larger costs in the form of nursing home expenditures and lost tax revenues from workers forced into unemployment or under-employment.

“Perhaps most importantly, we can’t put a price on the value of a senior’s independence. It’s time we stop short-changing home care and pass supplemental funding for the Community Care Program.”

-END-

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. Visit www.seiuhcilin.org for more information.

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Missouri Members Converge on Jeff City to fight ‘Paycheck Deception’ & ‘Right-to-Work for Less’ Bills

MO Lobby Day 3-12-2013On Tuesday, March 12, about 100 SEIU Healthcare Missouri members traveled to Jefferson City for our annual Lobby Day. Members met with lawmakers across both sides of the aisle, talking about the need for Medicaid expansion, and stopping ‘Right-to-Work for Less’ and ‘Paycheck Deception’ bills that threaten working families across the state.

‘Paycheck Deception’ is an attempt to further skew the political balance of power towards corporations by enacting tight controls and burdensome regulations that only apply to unions. Corporations already outspend unions more than 19-to-1 in the political process, but that’s not slowing down anti-worker politicians who are pushing the measure right now.

So called ‘Right-to-Work’ laws are another attempt by greedy CEOs and right-wing politicians to silence working families. ‘RTW’ lowers wages for all workers, endangers worksite safety and health standards, and is unfair to union members who play by the rules. Like ‘Paycheck Deception,’ this bill is backed by big business interests who support initiatives aimed at undermining our ability to negotiate for fair wages and benefits. Instead of looking out for working families, proponents are trying to weaken or eliminate our voices at work and in politics.

“This was my first time ever at the Capitol, let alone a Lobby Day for our union,” said Drew McClure, an Anesthesia Technician at St. Louis University Hospital. “I met with six different lawmakers and talked to them about the need to expand Medicaid so more Missourians have access to the care they need. I personally have many family members who would benefit from the expansion and sharing my personal story really illustrated why this is important.”

Another first time Lobby Day participant was Corita Brown, a Cook 1 at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. “This was a great experience for me and I was able to go back to work and share it with my co-workers. We all should know who our lawmakers are and they should know who we are too. We put them in office and it’s our job to hold them accountable after that,” said Brown.

“I make sure I never miss Lobby Day because I know I’m not just going for myself, I show up to advocate for the seniors I care for who can’t make it all the way to Jefferson City,” said home care provider Val Gordon from St. Louis. “There are so many issues that are critical to workers like me and seniors across our state. On Tuesday, I spoke with a republican lawmaker about the importance of Medicaid expansion, sharing personal stories from my clients about the difference it would make. I also pressed her about the negative impact ‘Right-to-Work for Less’ and ‘Paycheck Deception’ would have on working families in Missouri. We have a lot more work to do but getting on the bus and making sure our voices, and the voices of our clients are heard all the way in Jefferson City is one way we can fight back.”

Anti-worker attacks in Missouri continue, as the state lawmakers move forward with ‘Paycheck Deception’ today. It’s not too late to call your representative and urge them to oppose attacks on working people. Call 888-907-9711 right now to reach your state lawmakers.

Check out all the photos from Lobby Day below:

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HOME CARE IN CRISIS

Home care consumers, providers, and allies are taking action to avert a budget shortfall that could threaten home care for 80,000 Illinois seniors.DSC_8216

With some home care agencies already struggling under a five-month backlog of overdue state payments, the situation could get drastically worse for seniors and their home care providers, as Reuters explains:

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Illinois warned that it will run out of money next

week to pay for a program that allows 80,000 elderly and disabled people

to live at home, the latest illustration of the state’s fiscal crisis.

The Illinois agency that oversees home healthcare providers said in a

letter on Thursday that the money was “projected to be exhausted by

March 15,” 3-1/2 months before the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The shortfall will force some smaller nonprofit home healthcare agencies

to close, trigger layoffs at others and leave thousands of elderly

people scrambling for alternatives to in-home care, said Bob Thieman,

executive director of the Illinois Association of Community Care Program

Healthcare Providers.

“The state’s going to pay for this one way or another. If these seniors

cannot be picked up by other in-home providers, they’re going to wind up

in nursing homes, which will cost a lot more,” he said.

State officials say the situation is improving, but Thieman said it is

getting worse for home healthcare providers… they already wait as long as six months to get paid by the state.

“This one is critical,” Thieman said, predicting hardship for providers.

 

Illinois seniors and the workers who make it possible for them to live independently at home are relying on us to take action to save home care. Watch and share this video and tell your representatives how much home care means to you.

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