December 2014

Take Action: Illinois State Lawmakers Must Pass Emergency Funding to Save Our Child Care Program

Politicians in Springfield failed to pass a budget that funds our child care program for the entire fiscal year leaving a massive $295 million hole.

This means that the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is about to run out of money in late January or early February 2015 and our hard-working child care providers will not be receiving checks from the State unless urgent action is taken.

Watch WTTW Chicago Tonight’s story about how Illinois is facing a child care funding crisis — then take action and send a letter to your state representative and senator. 

Our state lawmakers must immediately pass an emergency supplemental funding bill to protect 85,000 low-income families who rely on child care for over 150,000 children.

TAKE ACTION NOW to send a message to your state representative and senator demanding that they pass an emergency funding bill to save our Child Care Assistance Program.

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Home Care Workers Stand with Fast Food, Airport, and Convenience Store Workers for $15 as Movement Continues to Grow

Movement for higher pay and a union in fast-growing home care industry spreads throughout country

 

(Chicago) – On Thursday, December 4, home care workers in Chicago called for $15 and a union alongside fast food workers as the Home Care Fight for $15 doubled in size and thousands of fast-food strikers walked off the job in 190 cities from coast to coast. Two years after New York City fast-food workers sparked a nationwide movement for higher pay and union rights, the movement continues to spread to new cities and industries.

Home care workers in Chicago protested Thursday alongside their clients, as the movement of workers who care for the elderly and people with disabilities doubles in reach since its launch in September.

“Just like fast food and convenience store workers, home care workers can’t wait for higher wages,” said Chicago home care worker Alantris Muhammad. “The gas and electric companies and won’t wait for payments, and neither can we. This movement continues to grow, with more working people adding their voices everyday – the time is now for $15 an hour.”

“I’m here because staying in my home and my community depends on home care workers,” explained Susan Aarup, a home care consumer. “If we don’t make home care jobs good jobs, there won’t be enough home care workers for all the people who need them now and in the future. My home care workers support my dignity and independence every day, and I support a $15 an hour wage for them – it’s a win-win.”

As baby boomers age, home care is America’s fastest-growing occupation. Already, there are 2.5 million home care workers across the country—not including many more who work in the informal economy. The median wage of home care workers is just $9.57 per hour, and unpredictable, part-time scheduling reduce those wages further. The result is a median annual income of just $17,000 a year.

In Illinois, home care workers made history September 4, 2014, joining fast food protests for the first time. Since then, workers have traveled to St. Louis, MO, for a first of its kind Home Care Rising Summit that united workers, seniors, people with disabilities, and allies around the call for a stronger home care system across the United States.

Home care workers registered and mobilized Chicagoland voters throughout October ahead of critical mid-term elections around issues like raising the minimum wage and protecting and expanding access to home care services during a Care Canvass.

US Representative Jan Schakowsky also met with Chicago home care workers in October, pledging her support for the Home Care Fight for $15 and committing to stand with workers until they win.

Across the country, airport baggage handlers, skycaps, wheelchair attendants and aircraft cleaners are joining together with fast-food workers and home care workers as the Fight for $15 reaches a new low-wage industry in the service-sector. Also Thursday, fast-food workers went on strike for the first time in Jackson, Miss., Knoxville, Tenn., and Buffalo, NY.

The strikes will come one week after Walmart workers led nationwide strikes on and leading up to Black Friday to protest the company’s illegal threats against workers calling for $15 an hour and full-time work. The growing Fight for $15 has been credited with elevating the debate around inequality in the U.S.  Slate called the movement a “stunning success” and wrote that, “dedicated fast-food workers have managed to completely rewire how the public and politicians think about wages.” What seemed like a far-fetched goal—$15 an hour—is now a reality in SeaTac and Seattle, where Bloomberg News said the city adopted “the rallying cry of fast-food workers” and where local low-wage airport workers played a leading role in winning the historic wage increase. In November, San Francisco became the third city in the U.S. to adopt a $15 minimum wage, and since the first strike in 2012, 7.6 million low-wage workers across the country have gotten raises through local ballot measures, city and state legislation and contract negotiations. Just this week, Chicago’s City Council voted for an incremental minimum wage increase to $13 an hour.

“The fast-food giants have seemed clumsy, and wrong-footed by the surge of protest,” according to the New Yorker, responding to the workers by telling them to get a second job, sing away their stress and apply for public assistance. But fast-food workers have responded by turning up their movement. At their first nationwide convention in Chicago last summer, they vowed to do whatever it takes to win $15 and union rights, and in September, nearly 500 were arrested during strikes that hit 150 cities. Now, inspired by the bold national actions of fast-food workers, home care and airport workers are joining together for higher pay and union rights.

The Fight for $15 is drawing support from key political figures. President Obama praised the fast-food workers, saying in a Labor Day speech that they are, “organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.” And Hillary Clinton applauded them in a speech to leading Democrats, calling the fast-food workers’ fight for higher pay, “a movement that is not waiting for Washington with its gridlock and grandstanding.” The urgent need for solutions to America’s low-wage crisis is already emerging as a key issue in the run-up to the 2016 election. In the New York Times, David Leonhardt wrote, “[a]s the 2016 presidential campaign begins to stir, the central question will be how both parties respond to the great wage slowdown.”

 

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SEIU Healthcare Illinois releases statement on passing of Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka

It is with deep sadness that we at SEIU Healthcare Illinois received the news of the sudden and unexpected passing of state Comptroller Judy Barrr Topinka. Judy was an elected official cut from the cloth of bi-partisan politics and her legacy will be one of a willingness to reach across the aisle and work with whomever necessary in order to get things done. This legacy is reflected in her consistent ability to win statewide elections, winning the trust and votes of not only Republicans, but also  Democrats and Independents.
Judy brought integrity and passion to every office she held. But most of all, she brought a love for the people she served.
The Executive Board, staff and membership of SEIU Healthcare Illinois extend our deepest condolences to the family of Judy Barr Topinka and will keep you all in our prayers.
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Members Only: SEIU Scholarship Opportunities!

Fulfill your college goals with the SEIU Scholarship Program 2015-16

SEIU has a long and proud history of helping union members pursue their dreams through higher education. We offer scholarship opportunities to support studies in areas incuding the arts, social justice, and the healthcare field. All scholarships are open to SEIU members and their children, and over 50 scholarships are awarded each year.

The 2015-2016 SEIU Scholarship Program kicks off December 1, 2014 – apply now!

SEIU Scholarships include:

SEIU Lottery Scholarships:

$1,000 scholarships renewable for up to four years as well as $1,500 scholarships for one year of study.

SEIU JJ Johnson Scholarship:

One $5,000 scholarship renewable for up to four years i given to a student whose work and aspirations for economic and social justice reflect the values and accomplishments of JJ Johnson, former president of SEIU Local 617 in New Jersey and one of the founding members of SEIU’s African American Caucus (AFRAM).

SEIU Moe Foner Scholarship:

Moe Foner founded Bread and Roses, a cultural program for union members. One $5,000 nonrenewable scholarship is available to students who are pursuing a degree or training in the visual or performing arts, and who, like Moe Foner, believe the arts are a vehicle to advance social change.

Application information is available here. Applications must be submitted by March 2, 2015.

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