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.