Congratulations to SEIU Healthcare Missouri members at St. Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital on winning their first contracts! After 8 long months of bargaining, members overwhelmingly ratified these two new, historic agreements over the last few weeks.
The new contracts include across the board increases for all workers over the next 3 years, removes wage caps that covered nearly 50% of the workforce – which meant they were ineligible for any raises at all – time and a half for holiday pay, a grievance procedure, protection against unjust discipline, and a guarantee of current copays and deductibles for health insurance, just to name a few highlights.
Members are optimistic about the future at their hospitals and the improvements they’ve won for both their jobs and quality care for patients.
“It was excitement, anticipation, joy and relief rolled into one bright, beautiful package and tied with a giant purple SEIU bow! Our future is NOW. For 7 long months, we agonized over making the right choices for the right reasons because we wanted to do our very best for each other and those who elected us to represent them, and ultimately their families,” explained bargaining committee member Kim Luaders from Des Peres Hospital. “In the end we built a first contract that we could be proud of and knowing that this first contract would now be the foundation for all of our future contracts, gave us even more hope for the future.”
“We are so happy that we now have voice at SLUH and can advocate for the things employees and our patients need,” added Caprice Nevils, who served on the bargaining committee at SLUH. “By building our union, light was shed on issues we had and how they could be improved through our contract. It’s a very exciting time at SLUH and we’re looking forward to making our hospital even better. Our contract victory was truly for the people, so I’m all for it!”
With the close of legislative session on Friday, the threat of Right-to-Work for Less legislation in Missouri is postponed for now. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of SEIU Healthcare Missouri members, the rest of the labor community, faith allies, and community organizations, the Republican led legislature was unable to succeed in passing their entire anti-worker agenda as planned. Paycheck Deception was passed out of both chambers, however hopes are high that Governor Jay Nixon will veto the bill. A successful veto override would require every Republican lawmaker to support Paycheck Deception, but 25 crossed the aisle and joined Democrats in voting against the bill during session so it would be unprecedented for this to happen. We are staying vigilant though, and prepared to continue the fight into veto session this fall if the need arises.
Here’s a snapshot of the great work that members contributed to the fight:
Congratulations to all who assisted in defeating these bad bills, especially Addus home care worker Sherry Wade and Abbey Care Center nursing home worker Twayna Thompson who spent 6 weeks working full-time on the campaign targeting Republican represented districts.
On May 16th, nearly 1000 members of SEIU HCII united in Springfield to fight for vital program funding, support for working families, and fair wages and conditions for workers in our union and beyond it.
Members kicked off the day in Springfield by swarming the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to protest their opposition to closing corporate tax loopholes and raising the minimum wage. The hundreds rallying and chanting on the street actually drew out the President of the Illinois Chamber, Doug Whitley. Mr. Whitley got more than he bargained for when Personal Assistant Lanette Newman from the South Side of Chicago, armed with a megaphone, told him why his organization’s stances on these two issues are hurting seniors, people with disabilities, kids, and working families.
Watch the video below to see Ms. Newman break it down and leave Mr. Whitley speechless:
Back at the Capitol, we delivered thousands of letters from working parents to Governor Pat Quinn bundled in children’s book covers expressing how important it is that we protect the Child Care Assistance Program. The Governor came out of his office to meet with our members and shake hands with the kids as they presented their ‘books’ of letters from working parents: Amelia Bedelia Saves Child Care, Clifford the Big Red Dog Goes to Springfield to Fight for Child Care, What the Ladybug Heard – Working Parents Need Quality Child Care, Oh, the Place You’ll Go…with Quality Child Care, and Alice’s Adventures in Springfield.
At the Rotunda, Roseland Hospital worker Gerald Grant talked about the vital service his hospital provides to its community, calling on lawmakers to provide the funding Roseland needs to keep its doors open.
“Just three months ago I pulled a 16 year old out of a car that had been shot in the head, a 16 year old girl, just driving her car. Someone shot her through the window. If you close Roseland, what’s going to happen to those people? There are four high schools surrounding Roseland, and a mentally ill institution that’s closed. We’ve inherited the mentally ill who have nowhere else to get their prescriptions. And they want to shut us down. Help us, you all, because this is not right.”
George White, who has served in several positions at the Winston Manor Nursing Home, summed up our effort in the Capital best:
“I’m not going to stop until every member is making a decent wage, with top-flight health care, not just for nursing home workers, but for every single person in the state of Illinois! And as I look out among us, I see truly that we stand when we’re together.”
Demand for Long-Term Care Is Expected to Grow Dramatically to 27 Million Seniors By 2050
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and the Caring Across Generations coalition held a rally in downtown Chicago to highlight the need for long-term home care services and support for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
Congresswoman Schakowsky recently introduced a House Resolution to express support for expanded home health care services for millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities. Currently 12,000,000 adults, nearly half of whom are 65 or older, are in need of long-term services and supports due to functional limitations. This number is projected to grow to 27,000,000 by 2050.
Caring Across Generations presented Congresswoman Schakowsky with a Mother’s Day card thanking her for her support of working mothers every day. Mothers are often the primary caregivers for their children and other family members, and one day, all of our mothers will need care themselves. Many direct care workers are themselves mothers, often struggling to support their own families.
Advocates, caregivers and care consumers also tried to deliver a card calling on Senator Mark Kirk to honor mothers by highlighting the importance of making quality care available to everyone and supporting current resolutions in congress.
Caring Across Generations is a campaign that unites people to change the long-term care system that supports each of us, our family members and our neighbors, to live and age in our own homes and communities. www.caringacross.org
The Chicago Care Council is a local coalition of Caring Across Generations that includes care worker organizations, care consumer groups, and other advocacy and policy groups. Council members include: Access Living, ARISE Chicago, Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago Coalition of Household Workers, Chicago Coalition of Labor Union Women, Gray Panthers, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Heartland Alliance on Human Rights, Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Latino Union, National Jobs with Justice, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Sargent Shriver National, Center on Poverty Law, SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana, Women Employed, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health
Home care providers and SEIU HCII members Gilda Brown and Annette Jones traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to join allies in pushing for reforms aimed at strengthening home care. The trip was organized by Caring Across Generations, a coalition of over 200 organizations that stand united for job creation, job quality, training and career ladders, a road map to citizenship, and support for care consumers and their families.
Jones and Brown participated in over 40 legislative visits and introduced Senate and House resolutions calling for a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce. They shared personal stories with Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk from Illinois, and Gilda Brown brought tears to lawmaker’s eyes during a panelist briefing with Representative Jan Schakowsky as she explained the struggles home care providers and consumers face every day.
With our aging US population, it’s estimated that by 2014 there will be a need for one million home care providers across our country. We applaud Gilda Brown and Annette Jones for helping to lead the fight to ensure seniors, people with disabilities, and their families have access to the quality home care they need, and that providers have quality jobs to meet their needs as well.
As part of what’s being called potentially the largest organizing effort in decades, St. Louis fast food workers walked off the job yesterday demanding living wages and a union. St. Louis workers joined fast food and retail workers in New York City and Chicago who held similar strikes over the last several weeks.
The average fast food worker in St. Louis earns only $7.35/hr, amounting to a yearly salary of under $19,000. As Jimmy John’s worker, Rasheen Aldridge, explained, “It just isn’t enough to cover our basic needs. With rent, food, health care, transportation, and often times a family to support, we’re struggling to get by. A lot of us are forced to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. It’s downright shameful that someone who works for a living is forced to rely on public assistance because their employers aren’t paying them enough.”
That’s why Rasheen and his coworkers kicked off the strikes on Wednesday, which spread to McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, Panera, Subway, and more throughout the day Thursday.
The truth is, paying fast food workers a livable wage will not only help workers support their families, but it will also help strengthen St. Louis’s entire economy. When workers are paid a fair wage, they have money to buy the everyday items they need, keeping the money in the community and making neighborhoods safer.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri members were out in full force to lend support to these brave workers, turning out to their picket lines and marching side by side in this fight that impacts us all.
“I’m here because I know that ensuring everyone makes a living wage that can support our families will lead to a better, stronger St. Louis overall. People who get up and go to work everyday should not have to live in poverty, and I’m proud to support fellow St. Louisians who are standing up for what’s right,” said Bettie Collins, a home care worker employed through Addus and an SEIU HCIIMK member residing in St. Louis.
As St. Louis strikers return to work today, the movement spreads to Detroit. You can support striking workers by adding your name to the following two petitions: