September 2015

SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana announces Greg Kelley as Executive Vice President; Vows to meet challenges from regressive governor head on

CHICAGO—The state’s largest union of healthcare and child care workers announced Greg Kelley as its new Executive Vice President.
“Greg Kelley brings more than 20 years of experience fighting alongside working women and men for living wages, healthcare and fairness on the job. I look forward to Greg’s leadership as we build power and fight for a just society for all,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher.
Kelley said his passion for improving the lives of working families continues to grow, particularly as the assault on living wages, safe work conditions and benefits have increased as corporations have sought to drive even more to their bottom line.
“I look forward to using my talents and skills in the fight for social and economic justice for all families,” Kelley said. “These are difficult times for working people and we must confront the role of the wealthy 1% in breaking our economy. While Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is quick to scapegoat working people for our state’s problems, he is quietly passing on massive tax breaks to himself and his wealthy friends and dismantling vital public services.
“I will work with our membership and our partners in labor and in the community to build a progressive movement in our states that takes on issues of economic and social justice that affect working people everywhere.”
Kelley was nominated by President Kelleher and was approved by a unanimous vote of the local’s Executive Board on Friday. Kelley previously served as Vice President for Health Systems and Nursing Homes for SEIU Healthcare Illinois. [See brief bio below.]
Kelley succeeds former Executive Vice President April Verrett, who recently joined the leadership team of the California-based SEIU Local 2015.
Greg KelleyGreg Kelley – A Brief Bio
Greg Kelley brings a passion for social and economic justice to the position of Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas. Motivated by his faith tradition and coming from a family of Baptist pastors, Kelley views building power for organized labor as his form of ministry.
Born on the West Side of Chicago and growing up in Maywood, Ill., Kelley started his career in the labor movement as a worker in the Cook County Clerk’s office where he organized co-workers to improve workplace conditions.
With his leadership potential recognized, he went on to work as a union member-intern before being hired as an organizer for the former SEIU Local 46. He successfully organized the first union of museum workers in Chicago at DuSable Museum.
Kelley has held a variety of roles throughout his near 20-year career, including organizer, organizing director, business representative and political director.  In 2007, he became Secretary Treasurer at hospital workers union SEIU Local 20.
In 2008, when three SEIU locals merged to form SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas – representing 92,000 workers — Kelley continued his role of bargaining contracts for workers as Vice President of the union’s Nursing Home and Hospital Division.
Kelley attended Proviso East High School and the University of Iowa where he majored in Political Science. He was very active in student government and was president of the University’s Black Student Union. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Kelley enjoys running and sports, especially when the White Sox, Bears and Hawkeyes are playing.  He is the father of 3 brilliant and beautiful children.
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ICYMI: Bruce Rauner’s Extreme Cuts Forcing Some Parents to Seek New Child Care Provider: Craigslist

Even minimum wage workers can’t qualify for assistance anymore under Rauner’s new rules

Friday, September 25, 2015


CHICAGO – On July 1st, Bruce Rauner unilaterally implemented new “emergency” eligibility requirements to the highly-successful Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – without public input or legislative debate. Since then, a statewide effort driven by providers, parents, children’s advocates and even First Lady Diana Rauner, has sought to highlight this policy for what it is: Extreme and dangerous. 

We knew that thousands of Illinois parents had been forced to quit their jobs or remain unemployed because they no longer qualified for child care assistance. Rauner’s new rules are so extreme that a single parent earning the minimum wage now makes too much to qualify.  We’ve now learned that some low-income parents are so desperate to find child care assistance to keep their jobs since Rauner’s cuts that they’ve turned to a new source to care for their kids: Craigslist.

According to NBC News 25, many central Illinois families have nowhere else to turn:

For many families in central Illinois the only place to find affordable childcare is on websites like Craigslist. But many wonder, is it safe? “You never know who it is on the internet. They could say they’re one person and be completely different,” said Laura Everett of Peoria.

This news is just the latest evidence that Bruce Rauner’s extreme cuts to the CCAP program – which have absolutely nothing to do with the current budget impasse in Springfield – are causing huge economic harm to working parents throughout Illinois, and now possibly endangering the safety of our children by forcing them to seek care from unqualified or unlicensed providers.

“The alarming revelation that Bruce Rauner’s cuts are forcing some Illinois parents to seek affordable child care from strangers on the internet – just to continue putting food on the table – should truly shake people to their very core,” said SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President James Muhammad. “The inhumane and dangerous nature of Bruce Rauner’s cuts gets magnified every day, and it’s long past time for Rauner to stop holding millions of Illinoisans hostage to his extreme personal political agenda.

“Craigslist is not the place to raise a child. Deliberate inaction and dangerous rules changes that harm children is not the way to govern a state.”



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State Rep. Litesa Wallace Joins Rockford-Area Providers and Parents to Save Illinois’ Child Care Program from Gov. Rauner’s Agenda

State Rep. Litesa Wallace speaks with Rockford-area child care providers and parents about stopping Gov. Rauner's rule changes that are decimating CCAP,  Wed, 09/23/15

State Rep. Litesa Wallace speaks with Rockford-area child care providers and parents about stopping Gov. Rauner’s rule changes that are decimating CCAP,
Wed, 09/23/15

Advocates Thank and Highlight Rep. Wallace’s Child Care Speech On House Floor that Went Viral With Almost 5 Million Views, Saying She “Speaks the Language of Working Moms”


(September 23rd, 2015) — Rockford-area child care providers, parents and young children held a successful press event with State Representative Litesa Wallace to call on state lawmakers to pass emergency bipartisan legislation to save Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  Right now, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s new eligibility requirements – enacted by Rauner himself without public notice or legislative debate – are currently denying 90% of previously-eligible families access to child care assistance, systematically destroying the program through attrition. (Scroll below to see press release).

See some of the incredible press clips below:

Rockford CBS: State Rep Litesa Wallace Fights Gov. Rauner’s Attacks on Child Care Program

Rockford CBS: State Rep Litesa Wallace Joins Providers to Fight to Save Illinois’ Child Care Program

Rockford ABC: State Rep Litesa Wallace Fights Gov. Rauner’s Destruction of Child Care Program

Child care providers and parents highlighted and thanked Rep. Wallace’s remarkable speech on the House floor – which has gone viral with over 5 million hits.

Rep. Wallace forcefully defended the child care program for working moms while debating SB 570, a bill to reverse Rauner’s extreme rule changes.

Charisse Levingston, a child care provider said about Rep. Wallace’s speech that “she speaks the language of working people.  We are deeply appreciative of her leadership. She spoke to every working mom, every child care provider –and frankly every person of color – and honored our contribution to our communities.”

Gov. Rauner’s new eligibility restrictions are so extreme that a single parent working a full-time minimum wage job now makes too money to quality for child care assistance.

Advocates and working parents demanded that the House bring SB 570 to the floor for a vote which will reverse drastic eligibility rule changes and open the program back up to thousands of families in desperate need of child care assistance.

Since Gov. Rauner’s rule changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) which went into effect on July 1st, 2015 thousands of parents applying to the program have been denied care.  An estimated 5,000 families apply for CCAP every month.

The Child Care Assistance Program has long enjoyed bipartisan support up until this point.  And recent research from Innovation Illinois shows the positive impact it has on our state’s overall economy. Every dollar spent on the Child Care Assistance Program generates up to $8 in economic activity and created over 120,000 jobs in Illinois in FY13.

Illinois businesses tout the flexibility that CCAP provides by accommodating parents with irregular work schedules, in addition to supporting a high quality, well-trained workforce by enabling parents to further their education.  If parents lose their child care, or are denied, they will be forced to make the difficult decision to quit their jobs to care for their children, leave their children unattended, or try to desperately patch together child care from those who may not even have knowledge or training unlike what providers can offer.


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As Bruce Rauner Persists In Illinois, Anti-Union Measure Fails in Missouri So-Called “Right-to-Work” Legislation Nixed

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 17, 2015)

SEIU Healthcare Missouri members celebrate the defeat of "right to work" legislation at the State Capitol, Sept. 16, 2015.

SEIU Healthcare Missouri members celebrate the defeat of “right to work” legislation at the State Capitol, Sept. 16, 2015.

CHICAGO – As Bruce Rauner continues to hold Illinois hostage by demanding anti-union measures be part of passing a budget, an anti-union piece of legislation has failed in Missouri.

The Missouri Legislature failed to override the governor’s veto of so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation, similar to the kind sought by Rauner in Illinois.

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response:

“It’s welcome news that the people of Missouri have been spared, for the moment, from this corporate attack on workers.

“It’s unwelcome news that the people of Illinois continue to be held hostage here by a governor who believes in, funds and is harming so many of our vulnerable sisters and brothers in service of this dangerous anti-union ideology.

“In Illinois, we know that “Right-to-Work” really means “Right-to-Work-For-Less.” It’s well past time that Bruce Rauner abandon this billionaire’s agenda and come to the table to pass a budget.”

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ICYMI: Viral Vs. Virulent: 4 MILLION Views for Speech Defending Child Care Assistance

4 MILLION Views for Speech Defending Child Care Assistance Against Racist ‘Daddy’ Remarks Made by Rauner Lieutenant

Rockford lawmaker’s speech against plans to dismantle funding for child care goes viral

UPDATE: Check out Chuck Sweeny’s column for the Rockford Register-Star about State Rep. Litesa Wallace’s amazing vital video about the importance of child care in Illinois.  


CHICAGO – The video of a speech in the Illinois House of Representatives last week by state Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, defending the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) against the racist remarks made by state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Bruce Rauner lieutenant and Tea Party follower, has gone viral, topping 4 MILLION views. Rep_Wallace_child_care_floor_speech_SB_570_screen_shot_09_02_15

Wallace gave the Internet-busting speech last Wednesday, just after Ives spoke in defense of Bruce Rauner’s dismantling of the CCAP, which already has denied access to thousands of Illinoisans. Rauner himself remained silent on the despicable characterizations by Ives.

On the House floor, Ives, who has a history of bigoted remarks, defended Rauner’s devastating new rules changes, and conjured racist and misogynistic stereotypes of individuals who receive assistance, warning: “You better know who the daddy is…”

This prompted Wallace, a survivor of domestic abuse and former participant in CCAP, to rise to the program’s defense:

“The overtones, undertones, implicit and explicit, ongoing stereotypes about what working families look like are at the core of why we have cut so many services in this current discussion, or have voted not to fund services, because we believe a particular segment of people don’t deserve something, we think those people don’t deserve childcare assistance, those people don’t live in my district.”

You can watch the full video here.

You can watch the racist Ives defense of the Rauner changes here.

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Home Care Workers Speak Out in Support of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Legislation

Gail Hamilton, home care leader, speaks at State Capitol press event in support of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Springfield, Sept. 9th, 2015.

Gail Hamilton, home care leader, speaks at State Capitol press event in support of Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, Springfield, Sept. 9th, 2015.

(September 9th, 2015, Springfield) — A statewide coalition of advocates — including home care workers, seniors and adults with disabilities — converged at the State Capitol today to hold a press conference urging lawmakers to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.

The bill will finally grant domestic workers the same basic legal and workplace protections that other workers have, including the right to earn overtime pay, something home care workers currently don’t have.

Check out the statements below from our home care leader, Gail Hamilton, who spoke at the press event, as well as from Sherry Kline, an adult who lives with disabilities. (Also see the National Domestic Workers Alliance for more information).

Statement from Gail Hamilton:

My name is Gail Hamilton and I have served as a home care worker for over 10 years, taking care of both seniors and adults with disabilities.

I have cared for a variety of individuals, many with serious health issues, who rely on my hard work, skill, and energy to provide them with quality care that allows them to live independently.

I am honored to speak on behalf of all my fellow homecare workers and caregivers in Illinois in support of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.

As a homecare worker, I have to ask, why in the world would a worker like me, who saves the state of Illinois tens of thousands of dollars by keeping senior and those with disabilities out of nursing homes, NOT be entitled to basic labor protections and the right to receive overtime pay? In what universe is that justified?

It is time we remove the stigma of “domestic workers” as being looked down upon, disrespected, treated unfairly, and insulted by referred to as “The Help”, or as “babysitters” or “maids”.

It’s time that domestic workers came out of the shadows and received the acknowledgment that we deserve.

This is the 21st Century – and it’s time that our laws kept up with the times.

We are not shadows. We are people.

We are not ghosts to be looked past. We are human beings.

We are workers performing important, vital, necessary and demanding jobs.

And it means we should be treated with the sense of fairness, decency, respect and integrity that we would give to any other worker and caregiver.

It is time that domestic workers be given our rightful place at the table, and recognized for our contribution to the families we serve, the communities we support, and the local economy that we strengthen.

On behalf of homecare workers across Illinois, I urge the State Senate to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to empower all low-wage workers and to give us the basic workplace protections and due process that every other worker has earned.

Thank you.


Statement from Sherry Kline:

Sherry Kline says domestic workers deserve respect, fair wages, and basic protections, State Capitol, Sept. 9th, 2015.

Sherry Kline says domestic workers deserve respect, fair wages, and basic protections, State Capitol, Sept. 9th, 2015.

My name is Sherry Kline.

As someone who lives with a disability I work extremely hard for my low-wage.

But my time, and energy, and labor is not respected.

I am paid UNDER minimum wage.

People with disabilities are still treated unfairly. And there continues to be a stigma that my work is somehow less valuable than others.

This has got to change.

But as someone who has felt the pain of being disrespected, not paid a fair wage, or given basic workplace protections, I am honored to speak today.

I’m here to call upon the legislature to pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, HB 1288.

Although this bill won’t impact me directly, there are tens of thousands of domestic workers who need these protections and the right to earn overtime for their labor. Who can possibly be against this bill?

Caregivers and home care providers are workers and they deserve the same respect and fairness that any other worker gets.

Caregiving are some of the most important, and necessary jobs in our community.

And as someone who benefits from home care assistance it is critical that we retain a good and effective workforce. We must give them the reasons to continue working in home care by recognizing their worth.

As someone who has felt stigmatized and look past because I live AND WORK, with a disability, I hope this bill passes today.

Because it’s time that we finally give home care and childcare providers, and domestic workers their rightful place at the table with a sense of respect and fairness.

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SEIU Healthcare Illinois Statement on Senate Bill 1229 Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Contact: Graeme Zielinski,

SEIU Healthcare Illinois Statement on Senate Bill 1229 Vote

SPRINGFIELD-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher following the House veto override vote Wednesday on Senate Bill 1229.

“Rauner Inc. spent a lot of time and effort mischaracterizing this legislation, which would have prevented damaging service disruptions forced by the bargaining approach Rauner has chosen, specifically in hopes that no deal will be reached. Yet despite Rauner’s threatening and bullying of both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in unprecedented ways – leveraging limitless money and every last ounce of his political capital – a strong majority still voted to in favor of these common sense reforms.”

“Now that this fight is over, we hope that Bruce Rauner heeds the advice of Gov. Jim Edgar and other Republicans to abandon his “my-way-or-the-highway” approach and come together with legislative leaders to fashion a budget that benefits all Illinoisans-not merely a political document that punishes his enemies and satisfies his extreme ideology.”


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Rauner Rejected: Statement Regarding Vote to Ensure Home Care for Low-Income Seniors and People With Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Contact: Graeme Zielinski, (312) 980-9128,

SPRINGFIELD – Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Wednesday’s vote on House Bill 2482 regarding the scoring used to determine whether low-income seniors and people with disabilities qualify for home healthcare:

“This vote provides necessary protections to seniors and people with disabilities who were being forced by the Rauner administration into long-term care or nursing homes and placed in positions that threatened their health and welfare. Kicking 34,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities to the curb was downright cruel. And it was shameless  for the Rauner administration to do so administratively when they knew they could not possibly achieve this end through proper legislative channels.

“It’s a shame that this vote was needed in the first place and hopefully serves as a lesson that, in bipartisan fashion, the people of Illinois are not prepared to sacrifice the welfare of our most vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities to a cheap and unprincipled political agenda.”

Four Republican House members voted for the legislation including State Representatives: Mark Batinick, Sheri Jesiel, Michael McAuliffe, and Terri Bryant.



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Letter: Lawmakers, Overturn Governor Rauner’s Veto On Labor Arbitration Bill, SB 1229

Julie_Pilgrim_Woodstock_Independent_Letter_Interest_Arbitration_SB_1229_09_01_15Julie Piligram, a home care worker in Marengo, Illinois, wrote an amazing guest commentary for the Woodstock Independent, a weekly publication, about why home healthcare and child care providers need Interest Arbitration to resolve state contracts, especially with Gov. Bruce Rauner in power.

Interest Arbitration Is a Fair Way to Resolve State Contracts

As a homecare worker, I support a man who is paralyzed from the waist down with an entire range of tasks that allow him to live independently. I love caring for people like my client, but the low-wages I am paid make it very difficult to make ends meet. It’s ironic because my work, and other homecare providers, keeps clients like him out of nursing homes thereby saving Illinois taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.

But right now, our state’s essential workforce of homecare workers have yet to come to an agreement with Gov. Rauner. And based on his public statements and actions it appears that Rauner has no interest in finalizing any agreements with any unions whatsoever.

So what are working families to do? That’s why homecare workers and child care workers are urging state lawmakers to follow the Senate’s bipartisan lead and overturn Gov. Rauner’s veto and enact an interest arbitration law (Senate Bill 1229). This legislation simply creates a panel of independent mediators who can come to a fair resolution when there is such a huge divide over union contracts.

Just like police officers, firefighters and prison guards who have a fair process to finalize a labor agreement, this legislation simply extends the three-decades-old option of fair arbitration to other workers who serve the state, like home care workers.

Our two state contracts, which expired June 30, represent some 52,000 workers. Gov. Rauner has shown a level of hostility toward unions that we have ever seen.  Gov. Rauner insisted at various points that we give up health care for our already low-paid workers; that our fellow providers, already the lowest-paid workers in the state, agree to a four-year wage freeze; that we give up our ability to communicate with our own union; and that we eliminate vital training for thousands of providers.

This legislation is a solution to the conflict between Rauner’s agenda and the need to continue the vital services that we give to our seniors and adults with disabilities every day. I strongly urge the House to vote for a fair and neutral process to resolve our divide over state contracts and pass SB 1229.

Julie Pilgrim
Marengo, IL

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As House Veto Override of Labor Arbitration Bill Nears, Caregivers Hold Demonstration to Highlight Rauner’s Extreme Agenda to Slash Benefits that Improve Quality Care 

As the House prepares to take up a veto override of SB 1229, Illinois caregivers make the case for arbitration as Governor continues to push for elimination of training and health insurance for the low-wage workforce

(Springfield) – Local caregivers gave lawmakers and reporters a glimpse into the vital training program that Governor Rauner is intent on eliminating at the bargaining table, highlighting the dire need for a successful veto override of SB 1229 in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Given Governor Rauner’s extreme hostility towards Illinois unions and his stance at the bargaining table to eliminate both training funds and health insurance for home care workers and child care providers, local workers say SB 1229 is a critical step to protecting benefits that improve the quality of care for vulnerable populations.

“This is the type of vital state service that is threatened by a strike or lockout. This legislation prevents the drastic consequences of a shutdown while protecting both workers and taxpayers,” State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

The training demonstration presented a sample of key skills taught in the ‘Early Childhood Education’ course, which educates child care providers about child development and learning environments.

Governor Rauner has made his vendetta against workers represented by labor unions clear in public remarks and at the bargaining table. In addition to eliminating health insurance for 20,000 low-income child care and home care workers and the fund that has trained more than 20,000 caregivers and improved the safety and welfare of tens of thousands of kids and people with disabilities, he is insisting on a four-year wage freeze for the state’s lowest paid employees.

SB 1229 would extend the same fair arbitration process available to police officers, firefighters, and prison security for the last thirty years to other state employees, including home care workers and child care providers. This legislation does not require arbitration; rather, it creates the option in the event of impasse. Governor Rauner could avoid arbitration altogether by remaining at the bargaining table and negotiating in good faith.

“SB 1229 represents common-sense reform to labor contract negotiations, allowing critical services to continue if state employees and the Rauner administration cannot reach a contract agreement,” said State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview). “The legislation would provide for neutral arbitration by a 3rd party panel in the event of an intractable impasse between the parties. A YES vote on SB 1229 is a vote to protect the taxpayers in the state of Illinois.”

Springfield caregivers urged state representatives to support the veto override of SB 1229 to preserve economic stability, avoid the shutdown that Rauner has promised in the past, ensure continuity in care for tens of thousands of vulnerable Illinoisans, and protect low-paid workers who just want a shot at entering the middle class.


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