Court Mandates that Rauner’s Administration and Ally Munger Must Pay Into Health Fund and Protect Health Insurance for Nearly 5,000 Workers Who Provide Home Care for Adults with Disabilities
EAST ST. LOUIS – The St. Clair County Circuit Court has ruled in favor of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which was granted a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger. The ruling issued late Wednesday (attached) protects health insurance for nearly 5,000 low-wage home healthcare workers in Illinois. The home healthcare workers serve adults with disabilities in Illinois’ Home Services Program. (Case No. 15 CH 475.)
(View Court Order here — 15-CH-0475 – 2015_11_25 – ORDER).
Despite a contract requiring the State of Illinois to contribute health insurance benefits for home healthcare workers, Gov. Rauner refused to pay the State’s contribution to the workers’ health fund. Rauner’s administration owes the health fund $1.5 million from fiscal year 2015, as well as approximately $11.8 million for work already performed for the months of July through October in fiscal year 2016. If Gov. Rauner failed to honor the State’s contractual obligations to continue health contributions, workers would have lost all of their health insurance after December 31st, 2015.
The state’s 52,000 home healthcare and child care workers-the largest bloc of workers in Illinois-continue to work without a contract.
In response to the temporary restraining order, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the St. Clair County Circuit Court ruling to protect our home healthcare workers from a potentially devastating economic and health crisis.
“The Court’s ruling is yet another major rebuke to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s extreme agenda and another example of Rauner’s failure in leading and managing Illinois’ finances, contracts and basic state operations.
“Lisa Viti, a home healthcare worker in Berwyn, suffers from diabetes and extremely high blood pressure and must take eight medications daily. She is among thousands of other home care workers whose health insurance was protected by the Court’s ruling. If Gov. Rauner had been successful in stripping away Ms. Viit’s health insurance that she currently gets from the health fund, her life-saving prescriptions would have cost more than $1,000 a month, forcing Ms. Viti to choose between her health or losing her own home. This is an example of Gov. Rauner’s agenda in a nutshell.
“Let’s not forgot how we got here. Gov. Rauner chose to use low-wage home healthcare workers, and their health insurance and economic security, as ‘leverage’ for his extreme anti-worker and political agenda.
“Gov. Rauner manufactured the State’s ongoing government shutdown for over five months now with no resolution in sight. But then Rauner claimed he had no budget authority to pay money into the health fund, putting workers, their families, and adults with disabilities in jeopardy and potentially devastating our vital workforce.
“Rauner’s attempt to manipulate and gamble with peoples’ livelihoods and health security is utterly reprehensible. Rauner’s actions show how little he cares about the struggles of low-wage workers and families in Illinois and how willing he is to use them as pawns in his political game.”
The following statement by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri & Kansas Executive Vice President Greg Kelley concerns the Nov. 24, 2015 release of the police dashcam video of the October 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald, an African American teenager, by a Chicago police officer, and the statements of city officials leading up to the video release:
State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were derelict in their duty to discipline and prosecute the officer responsible for McDonald’s death. Rather than seeking justice, these City officials worked to cover up and hide details of the crime from the public.
Like many in Chicago and across the country today, I question whether Alvarez, Emanuel and McCarthy would have taken action had a judge not required the City to release video footage of the crime. Public confidence in State’s Attorney Alvarez to prosecute this unthinkable crime is lost, and she should step down immediately. Additionally, Police Superintendent McCarthy should leave his post for allowing the officer responsible for such a crime to remain on any duty with the Chicago Police Department.
If we have learned anything from Ferguson, Mo., and the countless police shootings that have occurred across the country, it is that police and public officials must engage the public and be forthcoming in dialogue—not hide the truth and distort the facts.
It is time that our leaders reassess the priorities of our cities. We need a qualified and funded police force, but we also need to consider that the police department consumes 40 percent of our city budget. Something is wrong with the way we are allocating our resources.
We hope and pray for justice for Laquan McDonald and his family and demand accountability from Alvarez, Emanuel and McCarthy for their actions.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23rd, 2015
Also Discussed: Bruce Rauner’s Refusal to Pay Money Owed Into Fund for Health Insurance for Low-Wage Home Care Workers; SEIU HCII Lawsuit to Force Payment
Chicago – Jaquie Algee, Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, was interviewed by Rick Pearson for WGN 720 AM’s radio show “Sunday Spin” on November 22nd about State Rep. Ken Dunkin’s decision to break his ironclad pledge to vote for SB 570 on November 10th, 2015. The bill would have reversed Bruce Rauner’s extreme cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) for working parents, children and providers – and prevented Rauner’s abuses of executive power from ever occurring again. (Listen to the full WGN interview with Algee here.)
Instead of living up to his promise—made both in writing and in person to children, parents, and child care advocates after his missed SB 570 vote of September 2nd—Rep. Dunkin hid behind Gov. Rauner’s last-minute “deal” that cut Rauner’s political losses to justify his blatant reneging on his word. Though the agreement forced Rauner to partially reverse draconian rules changes that had denied 70,000 kids access in just 90 days, the new agreement still leaves 12,000 kids outside the program and preserves Rauner’s ability to make similarly devastating cuts anytime he so chooses.
Rick Pearson invited Algee onto his “Sunday Spin” program after Algee gave a forceful condemnation of Rep. Dunkin’s actions at a press conference following the defeat of SB 570, which ultimately occurred solely because of Dunkin’s broken promise to cast a “Yes” vote for the bill.
As a sign of just how frustrated voters in the 5th district are with Rep. Dunkin’s cozy relationship with Gov. Rauner and his extreme agenda, Algee discussed how working families joined together this weekend in the freezing cold and snow to start gathering petitions to get Juliana Stratton on the ballot who is now challenging Rep. Dunkin for his seat. (Pearson asks about a challenge to Dunkin at 12:55).
Lastly, at the end of the broadcast, Rick Pearson asked Algee about SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ Temporary Restraining Order against Gov. Rauner that was filed on Friday, Nov. 20th. Right now the administration is refusing to pay money into the State’s health fund to give nearly 5,000 low-wage home care workers, who serve adults with disabilities, access to health insurance. If the State fails to honor its contractual obligations home healthcare workers will lose all of their health insurance after December 31st, 2015.
Jaquie Algee addressed this issue in the WGN interview starting at 14:00:
Rick Pearson: “There is another issue that’s going on that I wanted to talk to you about, and it’s about health insurance for [home healthcare] workers. I assume this is all part of the labor negotiations that are still on-going with the larger public employee unions and coming up with new contracts. Can you tell me what is going on with the health insurance issue?”
Jaquie Algee: “The Governor has chosen not to put money into the health fund for workers who provide vital services in our community. For example, home care workers take care of seniors and those adults with disabilities in the Department of Rehabilitation (DORS). There is a contractual agreement with the State that these workers fought hard for – prior to Gov. Rauner taking office.
They fought hard to get health care for themselves which I think they deserve. I mean they help to take care people every day and then they have the risk of not being able to take care of themselves so they can do their jobs and live healthier lives.
So we filed a lawsuit. It is a Temporary Restraining Order against Gov. Rauner to save health insurance for those workers who take care of those adults with disabilities as well as seniors.
Rick Pearson: “Now what is the status? Is there insurance now provided?
Jaquie Algee: “There is insurance but [we are running out of] money in the health fund.
Rick Pearson: “This is all part of the budget?”
Jaquie Algee: “That’s right. [And the health fund] will expire by the end of December if [Gov. Rauner] doesn’t put money into the fund.
Rick Pearson: Aren’t these fun and games with no state budget in Illinois?
Jaquie Algee: I know. And the sad part about it, is the majority of the people really who deserve the best from our legislators and our leaders aren’t getting it. They are not getting it. And that’s very unfortunate. Because there are more of ‘us’ than there are the 1% of people who could help to shape the direction of our state budget better if they were to pay their fair share of taxes for example.
Almost 5,000 Low-Wage Personal Assistants Who Care for Adults with Disabilities, Could Lose Heath Security By End of December Because of Rauner’s Refusal to Pay Into Health Fund
EAST ST. LOUIS – SEIU Healthcare Illinois filed for a Temporary Restraining Order today in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Governor Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger to protect health insurance for thousands of low-wage home healthcare workers in Illinois.
(Case No. 15 CH 475).
Despite a contract between home care workers in Illinois’ Home Services Program requiring the State to contribute health insurance benefits for workers, Gov. Rauner has refused to pay the State’s contribution to the workers’ health fund. Rauner’s administration owes the health fund $1.5 million from fiscal year 2015, as well as approximately $11.8 million for work already performed for the months of July through October in fiscal year 2016.
By violating the State’s legal obligation to make payments to the health fund, nearly 5,000 low-wage personal assistants are on the brink of losing their health insurance just as the Holiday Season begins. Most personal assistants are only given limited or part-time hours and make on average $15,000 to $18,000 annually.
To prevent this devastating harm to home care workers and to preserve the continuity of the workforce to provide services, SEIU Healthcare Illinois filed its Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order to protect the health insurance of its members.
If the State fails to honor its contractual obligations to continue health contributions for home healthcare workers, the workers will lose all of their health insurance after December 31st, 2015.
In response, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, issued the following statement:
“Gov. Bruce Rauner’s extreme agenda is on full display as he seeks to deny basic health insurance for low-wage home healthcare workers who not only struggle just to make ends meet but who provide some of the most important and essential services to protect adults with disabilities.
“Gov. Rauner’s actions will hurt real people and families like that of Geneva Davis, a home healthcare worker in Chicago who suffers from a compromised immune system and borderline osteoporosis. Ms. Davis, who must work to support herself and help her four grandchildren, had to forgo her doctor’s recommendations to take medication for her bone loss because it cost $600 a month, which she simply won’t be able to afford without her current insurance. There are thousands more personal stories like hers in Illinois that Gov. Rauner must hear and read to understand the full consequences of his actions.
“Home care workers fought extremely hard to gain access to health insurance which we have had in place under our collective bargaining agreements dating back years. But now Gov. Rauner wants to take away the health security from low-wage workers who can barely afford their own day-to-day living expenses.
“It is Gov. Rauner’s decision to strip home healthcare workers of their health insurance and his decision alone.
“We are seeking an immediate reversal of Gov. Rauner’s decision to strip health insurance from home healthcare workers who rely on this security. And we call upon all elected officials in Illinois to speak out against Gov. Rauner’s cruel and dangerous cuts to working families across Illinois.”
CHICAGO – Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to the breaking news that the Bruce Rauner administration had reached a contract deal with a unit of SEIU Local 1:
“While we are happy for our sisters and brothers at SEIU Local 1, the fact remains that the state’s largest bargaining units, the 52,000 low-income Illinois home healthcare and child care workers of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, continue to work without a contract while Bruce Rauner presses extreme demands that would totally destabilize this workforce.
“Our contracts expired June 30th. At the bargaining table, Gov. Rauner has sought to strip the lowest-paid workforce in the state of health insurance and training, along with other demands meant to diminish if not outright eliminate the workplace voice of these vital workers. He also is demanding a wage freeze for workers earning poverty-level wages. Already, he has stopped payments to the healthcare funds for our workers, raising immediate threats of misery and economic hardship on a large scale.
“For some reason, Rauner appears to be willing to single out SEIU Healthcare for demands harsher than the other units of government with whom he has reached a deal and ALL OF WHICH were able to keep their bargained-for health insurance—and their union voice.
“Rauner recently attacked our workforce through administrative rules meant to diminish the size of the home healthcare and child care workforces. And he bankrolls anti-union groups that are shamefully attacking our workers in the courts and in the media. His ongoing attacks at the bargaining table are part of his greater hostility against collective bargaining in general and his billionaire agenda to permanently weaken the union movement.”
We are pleased to post the following op-ed from Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which was published in the Springfield Journal Register on November 17th, 2015.
In the days following the critical vote on Senate Bill 570, the reported comments and an op-ed by Rep. Ken Dunkin appearing on this page leave me shaking my head. In announcing his reversal to the extreme child care and home health care cuts he’d ordered in July, Gov. Bruce Rauner sought to cloak himself in a robe of compromise — offering credit to Mr. Dunkin for brokering a deal he said proved he was willing to reach across the aisle. It was fine political theater, but bears little resemblance to reality.
To be clear, after months of public pressure and bipartisan outcry from every corner of Illinois, Gov. Rauner made a calculated decision — a mere 24 hours before votes were to be cast that would have overturned his extreme cuts to child care and home health care — to cut his political losses and reverse course.
Rauner’s extreme cuts to the highly-successful Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) kicked 70,000 kids off the program in just 90 days, caused the closure of hundreds of child care businesses, and permanently damaged child care infrastructure in this state. And similar home health care changes ordered by Rauner would have denied care to 34,000 poor seniors and people with disabilities.
As the union representing the 52,000 state workers who provide these services, SEIU Healthcare Illinois worked hard for the passage of Senate Bill 570 and House Bill 2482 — to provide binding, verifiable certainty that eligibility requirements would be rolled back to pre-July 1st levels — in statute, not merely on a handshake.
After more than four months of needless suffering and devastating impacts to families all across Illinois, we felt strongly these bills were necessary. Why? Because the powers granted by the General Assembly for executive flexibility on rulemaking had never before been used to completely eviscerate an entire program — until Bruce Rauner decided to use them to destroy CCAP.
The pending bills that ultimately caused Rauner to fold included adjustments to that executive authority that would’ve ensured that this governor, or any future governor of either party, could never again inflict the type of damage caused by Rauner’s overreach.
Make no mistake, this week’s action by Rauner was a giant step in the right direction. But it was an action taken under duress, after a self-manufactured crisis that should have never happened in the first place.
The Rauner-Dunkin account of this long-overdue policy reversal simply doesn’t match with reality. It was only when forced with the threat of Republican defections — a huge potential embarrassment — that Rauner decided to cut his losses. To hear Rauner and Dunkin tell it, the compassion and determined work of two noble public officials — themselves — had brought us to this moment.
But the decision to spare hundreds of thousands of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens was not a victory for Mr. Dunkin — who had pledged unequivocally to vote “Yes” on SB 570. Nor was it a victory for Mr. Rauner — who has yet to justify or even acknowledge the needless suffering caused by his nakedly political attacks.
The real victory this week was for the people of Illinois, whose voices were finally heeded in this nightmare period of self-inflicted budget impasse. They’d witnessed enough gamesmanship, as our most vulnerable were used as pawns in a larger political game that had nothing to do with the budget.
This week showed the world that when we unite for what’s right, and when the public at large learns of needless suffering caused in pursuit of an extreme political agenda, that even the most seemingly immovable obstacles can be overcome.
— Keith Kelleher is president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015
CHICAGO – SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Brynn Seibert will be available Tuesday to the media to discuss the major threats to child care in Illinois that still exist, despite the 11th-Hour deal cut by Gov. Bruce Rauner that will be codified at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Seibert will be available before and after the 11 a.m. hearing on the 6th floor of the Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St.
Attacks on child care by Gov. Rauner continue in the courtroom and at the bargaining table, along with the dangers posed by his hastily-formulated and sloppy set of administrative rules.
Bruce Rauner and the Destruction of Child Care in Illinois:
1. What the Rauner cuts have done:
a. Kicked 70,000 kids and counting off child care.
b. Set eligibility so low that a parent working full-time at minimum wage makes too much to receive assistance.
c. Cost the state thousands of jobs as working parents lose child care arrangements-or drop out of the workforce.
d. Caused permanent damage to the community of child care providers, with more than 100 centers closing down and many providers leaving the field or being laid off.
2. What the Rauner deal does and when:
a. The Governor announced intent to amend his administration’s emergency rule to raise income eligibility to 162% of the federal poverty level.
b. Also announced he would form a task force to look at “the long-term stability of the program,” where no questions of “stability” in the successful program previously have been raised.
c. Offers no timeline for amending the emergency rule.
d. Provides no timeline for any deliverables, including the creation and population of the task force.
3. What the Rauner deal DOESN’T do:
a. Restore income eligibility – when the Rauner administration initiated the cuts, eligibility stood at 185% FPL and in recent years had been 200% FPL
b. Provide any co-pay relief for parents – “current co-pays will remain intact.”
c. Prevent the Governor from reversing course in the future – his ability to decimate child care through emergency rules would still hang over the program. In fact, the governor’s ability to do the same or worse would remains FULLY INTACT.
d. End the attacks against child care workers at the bargaining table, where the administration has sought to remove training and health care from state child care workers.
e. End the attacks against child care workers in the courtroom via Illinois Policy Institute, the avenging hand of his bank book.
TAKE ACTION: Share this graphic to support our hospital workers in their #FightFor15
(November 10th, 2015, Chicago) — Hospital and healthcare workers joined the growing movement to #FightFor15 to demand economic justice for working people and our families!
All across Chicago and the Midwest hospital workers took action to support the #FightFor15 movement by marching in the streets, “stickering up” and leafleting in our work sites.
Workers took to the streets to demand:
A Living Wage is Essential to Good Health:
People who live in poverty are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions and to have risk factors that lead to poor health outcomes.
Quality Care Requires Quality Jobs:
Demand for health services and jobs is growing. Living wages and benefits are the best way recruit and retain highly qualified and dedicated workers.
Raise the Floor, Raise the Ceiling:
Healthcare wages run the spectrum. Like the rising tide that raises all ships, increasing the minimum wage lifts all wages up and is better for healthcare workers across the spectrum of care.
It’s Possible, the Money is Out There:
Corporations and major health systems can afford it. Elected officials have the ability to pass legislation to raise wages, close corporate tax loopholes, and make the rich pay their fair share in order to put money back into our communities and the services we need. They just need the will to do it!
The following article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 14th that mentioned SEIU Healthcare Illinois by name:
Union faces another lawsuit over organization of in-home care workers.
After a significant victory before the U.S. Supreme Court last year, an anti-union organization has stepped up its battle against organized labor in Illinois.
A handful of in-home care workers represented by the National Right to Work Legal Foundation on Tuesday sued state officials for compelling them to be represented by the Service Employees International Union.
The federal suit, filed in Chicago, named as defendants the union as well as Tom Tyrrell, director of the Department of Central Management Services, and Gregory Bassi, general counsel of the Department of Human Services. Bassi was acting director of the department. A representative for the state officials declined to comment.
A union spokesman said the foundation’s aim is “to weaken, if not totally destroy, every avenue for workers to have a voice on the job through a union.”
“Home care and child care workers united in SEIU Healthcare are proud of the gains won over several decades — from raising home care workers’ wages from $1 an hour to $13 and raising the rates for child care providers, to trainings that enhance the quality of care delivered,” James Muhammad said in a statement.
The plaintiffs say the union contract is a violation of their First Amendment right to choose who they want to lobby the government over public policies that may affect them.
“Home-based caregivers should not be forced to associate with a union they have no interest in joining or supporting,” Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Foundation, said in a statement.
The organization also used the First Amendment framework to attack mandatory union fees that home health care workers who didn’t want to join the union were required to pay SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas under Illinois law.
Illinois is one of more than two dozen states that require public-sector employees to pay partial dues, known as “agency fees,” for a union’s services, like negotiating contracts and addressing grievances, even if employees aren’t members. The law protects unions from free riders who gain the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for it.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that in-home care providers were not full-fledged public employees because they can be hired and fired by individual patients and work in private homes. As such the court determined that they shouldn’t be forced to pay union dues.
The home health care workers in the suit help persons with disabilities who are on Medicaid. Other plaintiffs in the case provide services to low-income children in a subsidized child care program. The plaintiffs are also represented by the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10th, 2015
Now that Gov. Rauner Says He Supports Vital Services, He Must Figure Out How to Pay For it By Asking the Super Wealthy and Big Banks to Pay Fair Share in Taxes
SPRINGFIELD– Today the Illinois House of Representatives voted on critical pieces of legislation that affect working families, such as SB 570, to stop Gov. Bruce Rauner’s attacks on Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) which have denied care to some 70,000 children.
The House also took up and voted on HB 2482, a bill to protect over 34,000 seniors and people with disabilities from Rauner’s attempt to limit the choices that consumers have between home healthcare and nursing home services by raising the DON (Determination of Need) score, which determines eligibility.
In response, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois issued the following statement:
“Governor Bruce Rauner swiftly and dramatically changed course to halt his attacks on Illinois’ child care and home care programs. We give credit to our incredible child care providers, the parents whom they serve, as well as to our home healthcare workers and the seniors and adults with disabilities whom they support and empower every day. We are also proud to stand with our community partners and allies in protecting vital services.
“The fact that Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program and Community Care Program will continue is a testament to their perseverance in fighting back against Gov. Rauner’s extreme agenda.
“However, working families are still vulnerable to Gov. Rauner’s abuse of his emergency powers to unilaterally implement rule changes to vital services, which is why we fought so hard for these two bills.
“Let’s be crystal clear: Nobody bears more responsibility today for the defeat of these two pieces of legislation to protect child care and home healthcare in Illinois than State Representative Ken Dunkin.
“Going forward, Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will preserve the state’s child care and home healthcare programs. But now he must come up with new revenue solutions to actually pay for these vital services. That means asking the super rich, like himself and large banks, to finally pay their fair share in taxes to fund vital programs and not shift the burden onto working families or trying to slash Illinois’ child care and home healthcare programs.
“This will require Gov. Rauner to come back to the table to forge a responsible budget, working with the legislature in good faith, and stopping his destructive ‘turnaround agenda’ which is hurting working families.”