August 2014

Christian Care Nursing Home Workers Win New Contract

Christian Care TA pic120 nursing home workers at Christian Care stuck together and persevered through a long battle for their latest contract. Workers held two pickets, filed several charges with the local labor board, marched on their boss twice, organized around a petition to stop union retaliation from management, and even had a delegation of workers and their kids to call out the meager $0.05 raises that management offered. Through these actions and more, workers showed unity and stood one day longer!

Here are few highlights from the new agreement:

  • Removing limits on the amount of stewards
  • First-time new employee orientation language
  • Discipline and discharge article
  • Improved timelines to the grievance procedure
  • Improved labor management language
  • Removing language preventing members from wearing SEIU buttons and clothing
  • Improvements to vacation, sick, holidays, and minimum rates
  • Across the board increases for all bargaining unit members

Congratulations Christian Care workers!

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Missouri Members Step Up and Speak Out in Ferguson

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 Jerry Hart and Loreal Cornell, both Care Partners at St. Louis University Hospital, and Te’Aun Bell, a Cook at Truman Hospital Hill in Kansas City, all members of SEIU and the Future Fighters (Millennials), have been on the ground in Ferguson since the tragic shooting that left Mike Brown dead on Saturday, August 9. Each has their own reasons for standing up and joining the movement for justice, read on to hear their stories.

 

jerry hartJerry Hart, Care Partner at St. Louis University Hospital

“When news broke about what happened to Mike Brown, several of us went to our union staff to find out what we could do together in Ferguson. We have a lot of members that work and live there, and we knew that as a union we needed to step up and be there. We’ve had a presence ever since. Whether it’s been peacefully marching, attending vigils, picking up trash, handing out water, etc., we’re here to help and call for justice. No unarmed person should be gunned down in the streets where they live, no matter what color you are.”

loreal cornellLoreal Cornell, St. Louis

“When there’s an injustice, SEIU is there and Ferguson is no different. This affects our members and our communities. The Future Fighters in St. Louis immediately got involved and urged our union too as well. There must be justice for Mike Brown, and the so many others who are victims of racial profiling, harassment, and racism. I’m so proud to be on the ground in Ferguson, supporting this community and representing our union.”

te'aun bellTe’Aun Bell, Cook at Truman Hospital Hill in Kansas City. Currently residing in St. Louis participating in an internship with SEIU

“There were two main reasons why I felt like I had to be with the Ferguson community in the aftermath of Mike Brown’s death. The first being that could have been my brother, my father, or my husband. The second is that this happened in Missouri – my home, my state. It’s been a very emotional time for everyone here, I’m just glad that our union is here to help and fight for justice with this community.”

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Truth and Justice Needed in Ferguson, MO

The following statement was released by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas, in response to the shooting of Ferguson, MO, resident Michael Brown and the unrest that is occurring there:

The aftermath of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reveals the urgent need for justice to prevail in order to bring a level of calm back to the community. The initial lack of information coming from the Ferguson Police Department and its militarized response to protesters has clearly erased any faith in local authorities to uncover the truth.

To that end, the members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas call on Governor Jay Nixon to do everything in his authority to de-escalate the militarized atmosphere in Ferguson and allow residents to practice their 1st Amendment right to peaceful assembly and protest.

Additionally, we call on the governor to appoint an independent investigator to work along with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice, who also have been called in to investigate.

Michael Brown was shot six times while unarmed. Some accounts indicate that his hands were raised in the air when shot. The community demands that someone be held accountable for this abuse of force.

We express our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Michael Brown and call on Gov. Nixon to move swiftly and with transparency to review the facts, inform the community and bring charges wherever the investigation shows that there was misconduct.

We also believe that it is only when people of good will unite and organize for racial and economic justice that incidents like this will cease to occur.

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Human rights panel hears testimonies about workplace abuses in Indiana

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Panel hears testimony from Rev. Dwight Gardner about the impact of worker abuse on families and the community.

GARY, Ind.—SEIU Healthcare Indiana members helped to organize and attended a Workers’ Human Rights Hearing, Thursday, July 31, at the Gary campus of Ivy Tech Community College, 1440 E. 35th Avenue.

The hearing was hosted by the Northwest Indiana Workers’ Human Rights Group, recently formed by union workers and social justice activists. The group formed to educate and organize in defense of workers’ rights that have increasingly come under attack since the passage of Indiana’s Right to Work legislation in 2012.

(L-R) Hospital worker Bernita Drayton and home care providers Kendra Bush and Annette Berry attend human rights panel hearing.

(L-R) Hospital worker Bernita Drayton and home care providers Kendra Bush and Annette Berry attend human rights panel hearing.

Workers and activists representing the unemployed, healthcare, warehouse and city workers testified about workplace abuses and how such abuses impact families and community conditions. Testimonies highlighted human rights violations such as wage theft, sexual harassment and discrimination.

The issues were heard by a panel of human rights advocates that included Merle E. Ratner, program director for the International Commission for Labor Rights; Renee Hatcher, Esq., Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Dr. Ruth Needleman, professor emeritus, Indiana University Labor Studies Dept., School of Social Work; and Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Gary, Ind.

“To hear the kinds of abuses workers experience on a daily basis was devastating,” said home care worker Kendra Bush. “Of course, we knew a lot of this was going on, but with the new Right to Work legislation in Indiana, we’re seeing more of these abuses. The attack on workers having a voice in the workplace has intensified.”

Indiana University Assistant Professor M. Thandabantu Iverson moderated the program.

 

 

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Nursing Home Worker, Erika Martin Says Bruce Rauner “Hasn’t Earned Our Respect to Become Governor”

Erika Martin and community activists protest outside Bruce Rauner's campaign headquarters on the anniversary of Medicare; Rauner uses a loophole to avoid paying his fair share of Medicare taxes - 7/31/14

Erika Martin and community activists protest outside Bruce Rauner’s campaign headquarters on the anniversary of Medicare; Rauner uses a loophole to avoid paying his fair share of Medicare taxes – 7/31/14

(July 31, 2014) — On the anniversary of Medicare where events were held across the country, HCII member and nursing home work Erika Martin protested outside Bruce Rauner’s headquarters.  Erika spoke about the candidate’s refusal to pay Medicare taxes,  highlighted Rauner’s troubling positions around short staffing at nursing homes and wanting to lower the minimum wage.

Erika Martin issued this statement:

Bruce Rauner is wrong for Illinois – he hasn’t earned our respect to become Illinois’ next governor.

Clearly Bruce Rauner cares more about his profit margins than he cares about nursing home patients and their safety.  His record shows that he’s more interested in profiting off of seniors than providing quality healthcare to all of our citizens.

Bruce Rauner doesn’t understand the struggles of working families and our communities. He wants to LOWER the minimum wage – which right now is $8.25 an hour, and $17,000 a year for a full-time worker. He simply doesn’t understand what it’s like to make low-wages and support a family. Bruce Rauner doesn’t share our working family values.

Rauner opposes any idea, such as the fair tax, that would ask him or his rich corporate contributors to pay their fair share in taxes to invest in our communities.

Background on Bruce Rauner’s Nursing Home Scandal from Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans

While Rauner was principal at GTCR, the private equity firm founded a company called Trans Health, whose business was to manage nursing homes. GTCR and other investors were accused of siphoning money from the nursing homes, loading them with debt, cutting staffing levels and providing poor care for the elderly patients. In the end, several patients of the facilities under their control died due to severe neglect including malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, infections and undiagnosed broken bones from falls. Several of the victims’ families have been awarded billions of dollar in civil suits- though it is money they will likely never see as the investors drove the company into bankruptcy and left it with few assets to pay the awards.

Juries have awarded billions to victims of Trans Health negligence that led to the deaths of their loved ones.

  • Arlene Townsend died in September of 2007 at 69 years old after suffering 18 falls in her six years at a Trans Health facility.
  • In October of 2004, 92-year old Elvira Nunziata fell down a flight of stairs while strapped to her wheel chair. She wasn’t discovered for nearly an hour. She died shortly after the paramedics arrived.
  • Juanita Jackson died at age in July of 2003 at the age of 76. She had suffered from pressure sores, over-medication, malnourishment, And dehydration.
  • Due to companies’ care, Rev. Joseph Webb suffered pressure sores and infections that required surgeries, including an above-the-knee amputation of his right leg. Rev. Webb died at the age of 80 in 2010.
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