FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(March 31, 2014, Chicago) – Raise Illinois, the statewide coalition working to raise the minimum wage, joined U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Governor Pat Quinn, and State Senate President, John Cullerton, along with low-wage workers and community partners for the Americans United for Change bus tour today at Federal Plaza.
April Verrett, who serves as the Executive Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, emceed the press event on behalf of Raise Illinois and issued the following statement:
“More than ever, we need leaders who are willing to fight for pragmatic solutions – not fight over ideology.
“That’s why over 600 of our nation’s top economists, including 7 Nobel Prize winners, all agree that raising the minimum wage will grow our economy, create more jobs, and support small businesses by giving working families more money in their pockets to spend in our local economy.
“In Illinois, no one can support a family making a minimum wage of $8.25 an hour, which equals $17,000 per year for a full-time worker.
“And yet, lifting the minimum wage in Illinois will immediately help over 400,000 minimum wage workers.
“No one who works full-time should have to live in poverty.
“Working families deserve real economic opportunity and fairness – not excuses for why they continue to struggle to pay their bills and see their wages continually decline compared to the cost of living.
“That’s why it’s urgent that Congress acts to raise the minimum wage and why we strongly urge Senator Mark Kirk to support the Fair Wage Act.
“But here in Illinois, we know that working families can’t wait any longer – which is why Springfield shouldn’t wait either.
“We call upon our lawmakers in Springfield to work on a bipartisan basis, and to partner with Governor Quinn, to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $10.65 an hour.
“It is crucial that our state lawmakers not view raising the minimum wage as a political issue but rather a moral imperative and an economic priority on behalf of working families.”
Raise Illinois is a coalition comprised of community, business, faith, and labor organizations, along with minimum wage workers and working families that are committed to raising the minimum wage in Illinois. www.raiseillinois.com
Our members in Missouri held our legislators accountable to working families earlier this month, meeting with Rep. Charlie Norr at a local library to discuss the issues that matter to all of us.
Members brought up raising the state’s minimum wage (which currently sits at $7.50), expanding Medicaid benefits to people who currently make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance, and protecting funding for home care programs. They also asked Rep. Norr to vote no on HB 1617, a paycheck deception bill that threatens the right of public employees to have union dues deducted from their paychecks.
“I think we did very well,” said Barbara Melton after meeting with Rep. Norr. “He understood our issues and committed to standing up for us in the Statehouse. But we’ll keep the pressure on!”
We drove our message home later in the month with a lobby day in Jefferson City, and we’ll keep taking action until workers’ voices are heard.
Contact: Scott.Vogel@seiuhcil.org or James.Muhammad@seiuhcil.org
(March 26, 2014, Chicago) – Governor Pat Quinn gave his annual budget address to the legislature today and released his fiscal year 2014-15 budget.
The Governor proposed a budget that provides hope for working families by maintaining the state’s 5% income tax rate to prevent Illinois from falling over the fiscal cliff.
SEIU HCII is praising the Governor Quinn’s budget proposal as an example of his leadership and concern for working families across Illinois. The Governor’s “responsible budget” protects a host of programs and vital services that support low-income workers and families such as education, early learning and child care services, college affordability, public safety, home care services for seniors, and investments in infrastructure.
If the temporary income tax is rolled back on January 1, 2015 it would cost the state an estimated $1.5 billion in lost revenue and leave a gaping $2.4 billion budget shortfall. Such a scenario would utterly devastate low-income and working families and result in massive cuts to programs and vital services.
In response, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, issued the following the statement:
“Budgets are moral documents that describe our values and demonstrate our priorities.
“Governor Quinn laid out in very stark terms the immense fiscal challenges facing Illinois. But this Governor is acting responsibly and demonstrating his concern for working families and not allowing them to suffer because of our state’s broken budget system.
“We applaud the Governor for leading on this critical issue and recognizing that in order to build an economy that gives all working families real opportunity and economic security, we must first provide a strong foundation and protect our vital services. It is critical that we invest in our child care and early learning programs and allow seniors and those with disabilities to live independently due to our home care assistance programs.
“We honor and recognize the Governor’s ongoing and fervent support for raising the minimum wage in Illinois as well as his passion for providing fair and decent wages to workers in his budget address as a means to strengthen our families and our communities.
“Today’s announcement by Governor Quinn proved once again what real leadership and courage looks like when it comes to standing up for working families.”
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.
On March 11, a delegation of hospital and nursing home SEIU HCIIMK members traveled from St. Louis and Kansas City to Jefferson City to meet with lawmakers on pressing legislative issues. Medicaid expansion and the need for fully funded home care programs dominated the conversation, but members also spoke out against Paycheck Deception that anti-worker legislators are supporting.
Denise Givens, a CNA of 20 years at Grand Manor Nursing Home in St. Louis, participated in the Lobby Day and fighting for Medicaid expansion was especially important to her. “I have many family members who are struggling with illness because they can’t get access to the healthcare they need. They are the face of tens of thousands of Missourians who are counting on lawmakers to expand Medicaid. I brought their stories to Jefferson City with me, and I’ll be back on April 2nd for our next Lobby Day too.”
From the other side of the state, Kansas City nursing home worker Cherie Brown also participated in Lobby Day, visiting the Capitol for the first time ever. “These issues are so important for us as workers, for our communities, and for the people we serve,” explained Brown, a CNA at Highland Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. “I couldn’t wait to get back and tell my coworkers about my experience. Between the lobbying and the rally we participated in for Medicaid expansion, it was a very exciting day!”
Missouri members are gearing up for a larger Lobby Day on April 2. If you’d like to save a seat on the bus, please call Tina Coggin at (816) 698-2748 or Twyla Craven at (816) 982-4008.
After 9 months of back and forth at the bargaining table, Touchette Regional Hospital employees succeeded in winning a strong new contract with first-ever guaranteed raises. Workers built a community-based campaign, garnering support from local leaders, lawmakers, and businesses who called out the hospital for their refusal to invest in their dedicated workforce.
In addition to enlisting community support, workers held rallies, a one-day strike, and some even took arrest in their quest for a contract that recognized their hard work and contributions to the hospital and community. The determination of members of the bargaining team is no doubt what carried the unit to victory.
The final agreement that was reached with management will benefit both sides of the table, ensuring workers earn a decent wage and maintaining high quality care standards for patients.
Child care providers are fed up with late payments and the broken child care IT system, so we came together to do something about it!
Deloitte is the company that was hired to implement the new system and were dragging their feet until their contract expires to avoid putting in resources to fix the system. Meanwhile, child care providers, working parents, and kids were suffering.
On Thursday, February 27, child care providers and kids descended on Deloitte in Chicago to call on the company to fix the broken Child Care Management System that processes parents’ CCAP eligibility and providers’ certificates.
Our voices were heard!
From ABC Channel 7, CBS Channel 2, to Chicago Tonight, and even the Chicago Tribune, we let the public know what was going on and shared our stories about the hardship providers are facing. The pressure we created on Deloitte and the State has resulted in a commitment to quickly fix this system and get providers the money they are owed.
Then on Tuesday, March 4, we held a telephone town hall meeting with representatives from the State of Illinois about the payment crisis and what the State is doing to fix the problem.
Here’s a summary of what was discussed:
Representatives from the State apologized for the many problems with the new Child Care Management System that have held up the processing of certificates, provider payments, and case approvals and redeterminations for parents. The State reported that many problems with the system were corrected and that the system was working properly as of March 1, 2014. The focus now is for DHS and CCR&Rs to process the back log of eligibility paperwork.
In order to quickly address the backlog problem, the State is streamlining a few processes that will move paperwork through the system more quickly.
At the time of our telephone town hall meeting on March 4, the State reported that almost all February payment errors had been fixed and over 70,000 payments had been processed in the new Child Care Management System.
The State has also set up a list of contacts that providers can call for help and updates:
You can also download all applications and any other forms here.
Many providers are continuing to have problems with the State’s IVR phone system not recognizing providers’ Social Security numbers. If this applies to you, please contact your CCR&R.
All issues are not completely resolved yet, and we have heard from many of you who continue to experience hardship and frustration with the Child Care Management System. We will continue to keep pressure on the State and contractors like Deloitte who are responsible for the new Child Care Management System until all providers’ problems are resolved.
You can reach our union’s Member Resource Center at 866-933-SEIU (7348) if you have additional questions.
Early voting begins March 3rd, and continues to Saturday, March 15th. (Click here to find your early voting locations in Chicago and Cook County).
If you can’t vote early, then definitely make sure you cast a ballot on Election Day, Tuesday, March 18th!
SEIU Healthcare Illinois is urging all of our members to vote for our endorsed candidates during this primary — see our list of endorsements below.
In 103 precincts in the city of Chicago, on the VERY LAST QUESTION ON YOUR BALLOT, there is a non-binding referendum that asks:
HCII List of Endorsed Candidates
Attorney General – Lisa Madigan
Comptroller – Judy Baar Topinka
Treasurer – Michael Frerichs
State Senate District 39 – Senator Don Harmon
House District 29 – Representative Thaddeus Jones
House District 39 – Will Guzzardi
House District 40 – Nancy Schiavone
House District 79 – Representative Katherine Cloonen
House District 96 – Representative Sue Scherer
House District103 – Carol Ammons
House District 115th – William Kilquist
Cook County Board- Deborah Sims, John Daley
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District – Josina Morita, Tim Bradford, Frank Avila