May 2015

Illinois House passes Domestic Workers Bill of Rights

16378934506_028caaab91_o (SPRINGFIELD) The Illinois House of Representatives passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights late on Friday. The bill includes the following protections and rights to domestic workers:

  • the right to be paid no less than the minimum wage
  • the right to be paid for all work hours
  • the right to at least one day off a week
  • the right to meal and rest periods

The bill now moves forward to the Illinois Senate. We’ll have more info on the House vote soon.

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Wrapup: Rauner Hurts Women Day of Action

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Sun-Times: Dems want Rauner to testify over why money for ‘frailest, most vulnerable’ went to $250k appointee

from Chicago Sun-Times

by Natasha Korecki

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Democrats are asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to appear before a House committee to explain why the governor’s office arranged to have his $250,000-a-year education czar paid out of money meant for “the frailest and most vulnerable populations in the state.”

The move follows a Chicago Sun-Times story, which revealed that Rauner’s office penned a $250,000 annual contract with the governor’s hand-picked education czar, Beth Purvis, to be paid out of the Department of Human Services budget. The contract was signed three weeks before the governor’s office authorized $26 million in cuts to that same agency.

In a letter to Rauner, obtained by the Sun-Times, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Ill., questions testimony by then-Acting DHS Secretary Gregory Bassi and then-interim secretary James Dimas “that the lack of available funding was responsible for the decision to eliminate or reduce funding for these vitally needed programs. These programs serve many of the frailest and most vulnerable populations in the state.”

Read the full article from Chicago Sun-Times

 

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Sun Times: Rauner paying education czar $250k from agency that funds autism, epilepsy services

IMG_0054

 
from Chicago Sun-Times

by Natasha Korecki

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner has defended his practice of paying top dollar to high-level state employees, saying he was willing to take the arrows to lure good people to government.

But records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times under the Freedom of Information Act show that one of the highest-paid state employees hired under Rauner isn’t making a dent in the governor’s office budget.

In March, Rauner tapped Beth Purvis, a former charter school director, as his education secretary at an annual salary of $250,000.

At the time it was the highest-paid position in the governor’s cabinet.

But her contract, signed March 13, indicates that she’s being paid out of the Department of Human Services, even as it indicates she will “report directly to the governor’s chief of staff or designee.”

Three weeks after Purvis’ contract was signed, the governor’s office announced that the Department of Human Services was strapped for cash, and sliced $26 million in services including for autism, epilepsy and burials for the indigent. The cuts, later known as “the Good Friday Massacre,” caused some programs to completely shut down. The cuts caused a furor, prompting House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to call a public hearing on why it happened after Democrats said they believed a budget deal with the governor protected such services.

The Department of Human Services in its mission statement says it aims to serve “those who are striving to move from welfare to work and economic independence, and others who face multiple challenges to self-sufficiency.”

On Wednesday, the chair of the Appropriations-Human Services Committee in the House said he was unaware that DHS was paying Purvis’ salary, calling it “financial trickery.”

Read the entire article from Chicago Sun-Times

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Dem Legislators Put Budget on Right Track

Protecting Essential Services the Right Thing to Do

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: James.Muhammad[at]seiuhcil.org

Springfield (Wednesday, May 27, 2015) – Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President James Muhammad regarding budget developments in the General Assembly:

“We applaud the Democrats in the General Assembly, who have listened to the people of Illinois and now are moving to pass spending plans that protect the most vulnerable among us, including seniors, people with disabilities and those working families who rely on affordable child care.

“By protecting these services and standing up for those most in need, these legislators have lived up to the promises they made when they were elected.

“Now, with real spending plans in place, it’s time for bold discussion on fixing the structural inequities in Illinois. This means both fair revenue measures to protect vital services so seniors with disabilities and those who depend on care never again are placed in danger’s way–and ensuring that the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.”

 

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SEIU members call on Bank of America to support home care and childcare workers

image1 On Friday, SEIU members went to Bank of America in Calumet City to deliver a letter for the manager to fax to Illinois Bank of America President Timothy P. Maloney.

The letter calls on BoA to refund money from toxic swaps to help fund home care and childcare services in the face of Governor Rauner’s massive service cuts in his proposed budget.

The members rallied inside the bank branch, chanting and engaging customers until security moved them outside where the rally continued in front of the bank. While waiting for a confirmation sheet to prove that the message had been faxed, members distributed fliers to passers-by, explaining that Rauner’s budget cuts would hurt seniors, children, and the workers who provide care through loss of hours, loss of care, elimination of workers healthcare benefits, and more.

The police arrived just as the bank manager emerged from the bank and delivered confirmation of the fax.

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Harmon: Rauner is “bullying” and “holding the entire state hostage” | Capitol Fax

From Capitol Fax

by Rich Miller

Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon

Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon

* Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon responds to Gov. Rauner’s SJ-R op-ed, in which the governor threatened a long overtime session unless Democrats agree to support his reforms…

After reading Governor Bruce Rauner’s opinion piece I agree with the governor on some of the problems the state faces: Our pensions need to be funded and our property taxes are too high.

Unfortunately, we don’t begin to agree on solutions.

Let’s start with pensions. I voted for a major reform two years ago. The Supreme Court just struck it down, ruling that once someone is hired by the state, pension benefits cannot be diminished.

Yet the governor continues to call for diminished benefits “going forward.” We need pension reform, but we’ll never get there with a governor who ignores the Constitution, the Supreme Court and reality.

Yes, property taxes are too high. They’re also extremely unfair to hard-working families who end up getting hit much harder than the wealthy.

I’m working on a solution to provide tax fairness for the middle class.

My solution is a fair income tax, one where higher rates would apply to higher incomes and lower rates would apply to lower incomes. It’s logical and allows middle class families to keep more of their hard-earned money. Nearly every state that borders Illinois already has such a system.

What solutions does the governor offer? None that work for the working families.

He slashes funding for our communities and freezes property taxes. That results in fewer firefighters and police officers, slow snow removal and more pesky potholes.

Illinois deserves better.

It’s clear who Governor Rauner is looking out for and it’s not regular families.

Rauner’s looking out for his Wall Street friends, the corporate millionaires and billionaires who don’t want to pay their fair share.

Read the full article from Capitol Fax

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Press Release: Low-Wage Healthcare Workers Rally at Capitol Against Rauner Contract Moves

Home care workers and child care providers rally at Lincoln Statue at State Capitol to protest Gov. Rauner's actions to strip away union protections.

Home care workers and child care providers rally at Lincoln Statue at State Capitol to protest Gov. Rauner’s actions to strip away union protections.

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Contact: Catherine Murrell, Catherine.Murrell@seiuhcil.org

Urge Fair Revenue as Means to Meet Vital Needs of Seniors, Kids and People With Disabilities

SPRINGFIELD-Workers who provide health care and child care to thousands of families in need across the state spoke out on the Lincoln Steps today against the heavy-handed demands by Gov. Bruce Rauner to strip some 50,000 healthcare workers of bargained-for health insurance, union protections and vital training.

The Rauner administration revealed its moves against the low-income workers during contract negotiations Monday.The contract expires June 30th.

SEIU Healthcare had presented the Rauner administration with proposals to expand home care and child care for all Illinoisans who need it and to raise the wages of workers to $15-per-hour, funding these improvements by holding banks, corporations and the ultra-wealthy accountable through measures such as closing corporate loopholes, ending unfair bank deals and instituting the Fair Tax with higher income tax rates for the rich, and lower tax rates for working families.

According to the state’s own numbers from 2013, child care providers averaged $4.59 per hour.

Workers said Rauner’s approach to bargaining threatens to further destabilize a dependable and valued workforce who takes care of the most vulnerable in our society. Without such a workforce, the health and safety of our grandparents who need in-home care, people with disabilities and children are at risk.

“We know that our work is valuable and we’re hopeful that Bruce Rauner understands that,” said Cynthia Brown, a veteran child care worker represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Rauner made the choice to not only put us and our families at risk, by taking away our much-needed benefits and our right to speak out on the job–he is also choosing to put seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with young children at risk.”

“Governor Rauner claims what he’s doing is to ‘turnaround’ the state’s economy, but he can’t balance the budget on the backs of low-paid workers,” said Brenda McMillion, another child care worker. “We hope he joins with us to stand up for the seniors, children and disabled people that we serve and fully meet their needs by seeking new sources of revenue.”

Said Lanette Newman, an SEIU home care worker: “We’ve fought together for years to get health coverage, to get the training we need, and to secure our right to have a voice on the job. Now Bruce Rauner wants to take that away from us.”

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Capitol Fax: SEIU blasts Rauner over contract talks

SEIU rotunda

From Capitol Fax:

by Rich Miller

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is apparently playing hardball with SEIU over a union contract covering 50,000 childcare and home care workers. Negotiations began Monday, even though the contract expires June 30th. Rauner’s opening offer was pretty harsh. From a union insider…

Rauner wants to take away virtually all union benefits that have been bargained for by these employees over the years, including health care, for tens of thousands of low-wage workers. These employees don’t get state-insurance, by the way, but belong to a union-funded plan. Taking health insurance away would represent a real hardship for them.

What’s more, Rauner is demanding that his administration stop collecting dues from workers, a time-tested union-busting tactic.

He’d also cut training-which would adversely affect the quality-of-care for countless seniors and persons with disabilities.

Additionally, as if this were one of his newly-acquired private equity properties, he wants to convert these workers into “independent contractors.” He also wants to remove the state’s neutrality position on the union and make it much harder for workers and the union to communicate.

Read the full article from Capitol Fax

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Human & Economic Costs of Cutting Home Care Will Hurt Long-Term

Bill Hawk is an Edwardsville resident whose mother receives home care services in Alton, Illinois through the Community Care Program

My mother is in her eighties and has a number of health issues. She worked hard her entire life, raising five kids – one with special needs. Today she is living out her days at home in her apartment where she wants to be thanks to the Community Care Program. CCP provides a home care worker for three hours, five days a week, who comes in and performs important services like reminders about medication, picking up groceries, help with laundry and housekeeping. These are tasks that most of us take for granted, but for my mother they present daily challenges. As a son of an aging parent, knowing my mother’s home care worker is there to assist her is a godsend. I don’t know what we would do without home care.

Our Governor’s budget proposal would slash programs like CCP, kicking tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who count on these services out. Those who don’t have family support will be forced into nursing home care, which costs up to six times more than home care. It’s clear the state of Illinois is in a dire financial situation right now, but cutting programs that will end up costing the state more long term just doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to talk about revenue solutions before we start cutting off lifelines for people like my mother.

– Bill Hawk

 

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