January 2016

The State of the State? Broken on Purpose

Rauner Does Not Address Elective Damage and Impact of Extreme Agenda on People of Color

 SPRINGFIELD—Following is the response of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley to Wednesday’s State of the State address by Gov. Bruce Rauner:

“If Bruce Rauner were interested in telling the truth today about the state of the state he could have said, “It’s broken.” And it’s been broken on purpose.

“The governor has caused massive cuts to the social safety net in Illinois as part of a scheme to enact his “Turnaround Agenda” to lower wages and worker protections. And it has been people of color and women who have disproportionately borne the brunt of his scorched-earth strategy.

“Home healthcare and child care have been particularly harmed by this governor, both by unilateral administrative rule; through the budget process; and at the bargaining table. The governor is quick to point out that he didn’t cause the long-term structural problems facing Illinois. But there can be no question that he has made things worse. And now, instead of asking for shared sacrifice, it looks like he once again is seeking to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children, working families, people with disabilities, women and people of color.

“Rauner might have no conception of the suffering he has caused, but as he continues to push his extreme agenda at the cost of vulnerable Illinoisans and workers, it increasingly looks like he’s in a state of denial.”

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Press Release: Three Questions for Bruce Rauner in His State of the State Address

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 26th, 201660219_Signs_PROOF_1pg_Rauners_Cuts_Hurt_Families_Page_1

Contact: Graeme.Zielinski@seiuhcil.org

CHICAGO – Bruce Rauner addresses the General Assembly Wednesday with Illinois in terrible shape. No, he didn’t create this mess, but he sure hasn’t made it any better, lashing the financial fortunes, economic health and welfare of hundreds of Illinoisans to an extreme “Turnaround Agenda” that even fellow Republicans like Gov. Jim Edgar have urged him to abandon.

Here are three important questions for Rauner as he prepares to deliver his State of the State address.

  1. Is it important for you to know of the human stories and suffering your policies and actions have caused to hundreds of thousands of lower-income Illinoisans, or are their immediate needs secondary to the long-term and unproven effects that you claim your controversial proposals will bring?
  2. You were criticized for paying lip service to women and people of color as a way to get elected. Why is it that those bearing the brunt of your policies now happen to be women and people of color?
  3. Yes or no-do you favor ending collective bargaining for public employees in Illinois. If not, why have all your actions pointed the state in that direction?

 

 

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New Overtime Policy for Illinois Home Care Workers Threaten Thousands in the Home Services Program

Workers & Customers Speak Out In Support of Protecting Customer Voice in Choosing Caregivers

David Conn in his Peoria home with his two dogs.

David Conn in his Peoria home with his two dogs.

Paula Templeton has cared for her son, David Conn, for the last 26 years in her Peoria, IL, home. Conn was hit by a car at the age of 22 in Nashville, TN, and has used home care services ever since to live a fulfilling, independent life in his mother’s home.

Paula cares for David, now 48 years old, 24 hours each day, 7 days a week – although she is only paid for 60 hours per week as his home care worker.

Paula and David have been living in uncertainty since the state of Illinois announced its plan to implement new federal overtime pay rules for home care workers. The state’s plan would effectively force David to hire an additional worker and force Paula to give up 25 hours of work each week, slashing the income she supports herself on.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” explained Paula Templeton, “Neither of us want to hire a new person to come into our home when I’m here and can continue to provide the care my son needs like we always have. This should be my son’s choice, not Governor Rauner’s.”

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor, starting January 1, 2016, home care workers were finally extended federal overtime protections. Instead of engaging with stakeholders on this issue, the Rauner administration is attempting to circumvent the rule and avoid paying overtime to workers by capping hours at 35 starting March 1, 2016. Under the policy, the state requires customers to hire additional workers to ensure no one works over 35 hours per week. Home care customers and workers are threatened with loss of services or jobs if they fail to comply with the new policy.

According to DHS, just over 10,000 home care customers and workers stand to be impacted by this policy change.

See more about Paula and David’s story in press coverage from WMBD-TV Peoria here and from Medill Reports Chicago here.

Take action to stand up for Paula and David, and the thousands of other Illinoisans adversely impacted by this policy by signing this petition to Governor Rauner here. 

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ICYMI: New State Journal Register Report Says Gov. Rauner’s Extreme Agenda Is Systematically Destroying Illinois’ Child Care Program

Rauner’s Sustained Attacks on Child Care Assistance Program Results in 48,000 Fewer Children Getting Access to Early Learning as Providers Forced to Close Their Doors, Further Damaging the EconomyRauner truck_mobile_billboards_crop_580w

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

 Contact: Graeme.Zielinski@seiuhcil.org; or Emma.Tai@seiuhcil.org;

 

CHICAGO – The State Journal Register published a must-read story today about how Gov. Bruce Rauner’s sustained attacks on the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is causing significant damage to working families and weakening the state’s entire child care system of providers, teachers, and early learning centers.

Background: On July 1st, 2015 Gov. Rauner unilaterally imposed strict eligibility requirements on low-income families applying for child care which meant that even a parent with a full-time minimum wage job made too much money to get access to child care. Rauner’s extreme rules almost collapsed the entire child care and early learning system.

Then in November 2015, after feeling intense pressure from child care providers and parents and the media, Gov. Rauner cut a deal to relax his previous extreme eligibility requirements. But as the SJR reported today, Rauner’s damage to the Child Care Assistance Program was already done. And the results are that nearly 50,000 fewer children have access to child care, more child care providers have been forced to close their programs or reduce their services and cut staff. And more parents have been forced out of the workforce entirely because they no longer qualify for child care assistance or couldn’t access reliable child care for their kids that allowed them to keep their jobs or go back to school.

Here are the key takeaways from the SJR article below:

The 50 percent of [Federal Poverty Level] requirement was among several new restrictions Rauner used his executive powers to impose July 1, with the aim of saving the state $5.3 million per month statewide.

The program is funded with more than $1 billion each year in state and federal funds.

48,200 fewer [children]

Before July 1, the program accepted children from families with incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $37,165 for a family of three. Fifty percent of FPL meant most families of three with income of more than about $10,000 per year didn’t qualify.

The current limit of 162 percent of FPL institutes an income cap of about $32,550 for a family of three.

The eligibility changes instituted in July didn’t affect children already enrolled, but the new guidelines, criticized as harsh, had a definite impact on participation in the program.

Enrollment dropped to an average of 133,374 children in the period from July through December 2015, compared with the average total of 181,563 children in the program during the same period one year earlier, according to Illinois Department of Human Services spokeswoman Marianne Manko.

That’s a reduction of about 48,200 children, or more than one-fourth of the previous eligibility level.

Even though eligibility guidelines have been mostly restored, there’s still a gap between 162 percent of FPL and 185 percent, and the higher co-payments instituted by Rauner remain, according to Maria Whelan, president and CEO of Chicago-based Illinois Action for Children.

The current income guideline, by itself, keeps 10,000 children out of the program who normally would be admitted under the original income ceiling of 185 percent of FPL, she said.

Another 5,000 children are being denied entry because of a restriction that Rauner opted not to lift, involving children whose parents are in school but not employed, Whelan said.

That still leaves more than 32,000 children who, in theory, could be enrolled in the program but aren’t.

And in terms of the damage to Illinois’ child care providers and workforce, the SJR noted:

The child-care industry in Illinois generates $2.6 billion in annual revenues and employs more than 69,000 people full time, [Maria Whelan] said.

Statistics indicate that thousands of home-based child-care providers have either closed their doors or stopped accepting children whose care is subsidized by the state.

The 24,498 home-based providers who received state subsidies in August had dwindled to 19,975 by October — a drop of more than 4,500 or 18 percent, according to Service Employees International Union’s health-care division in Illinois.

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MLK’s Commitment to Labor Movement Cries Out in Today’s Illinois

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley in observance of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

“In his last public act before he was martyred, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in solidarity with AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis. Dr. King long had proclaimed the labor movement a pathway to social and racial justice and so this was no coincidence.

“His example shines brightly in today’s Illinois, where Gov. Bruce Rauner has made destroying the union movement here the hallmark of his administration, and along the way, has used vulnerable populations, principally people of color, as hostages to advance his cruel agenda.

“While he was running for governor, Rauner visited our communities with promises of change. Instead, the ill effects of his extreme agenda have wrought devastation. Dr. King called the union movement “The principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.” On this MLK Day, those words ring out more than ever.”

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AFSCME Is Not Alone: SEIU Healthcare Illinois Stands Against Extreme Rauner Demands

CHICAGO–Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to news that Bruce Rauner was engineering an impasse ruling in negotiations with AFSCME Council 31:

“Gov. Rauner’s assault on working families and the middle class continues through his effort to force impasse in contract negotiations with AFSCME, the state workers who provide vital services to residents of Illinois. The 91,000 workers we represent stand in solidarity with AFSCME and all of organized labor in Illinois who find ourselves under attack by this governor.

“Like AFSCME, we have for months been in negotiations for our 53,000 state home healthcare and child care providers who are working without a contract. Likewise, we have faced similar hostility and extremism. In our case, Governor Rauner is attempting to destabilize the care-giving safety net in Illinois with demands to destroy health care coverage for more than 10,000 providers; to remove their vital training; to defy new federal guidelines to pay workers the overtime they are owed; and to freeze wages for the lowest-paid workers in the state, many of whom already live in poverty.

“What Governor Rauner has done to AFSCME, and what he has demanded at the bargaining table from us, will not fix the state’s long-term structural problems and have nothing to do with the budget. We urge Governor Rauner to abandon his political vendetta, to stop using vulnerable people as pawns and to return to negotiations in a spirit of good faith and compromise, characteristics that seem to find no place in his Illinois.”

 

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Illinois Working Together In Search of Campaign Director

Illinois Working Together

Campaign Director

The Illinois Working Together (IWT) Table is a diverse coalition of Labor Organizations seeking to advance an agenda that supports the growth and stability of working families in Illinois.

Job Summary

IWT is seeking a highly motivated, creative professional with a strong political campaign and public communications to serve as a Campaign Director.  The Campaign Director should be a leader committed to economic and social justice and worker rights. The director will work with a diverse set of labor organizations across the state of Illinois to create and implement an aggressive strategy to achieve coalition goals, including:

  • Working with coalition partners to develop and coordinate strategies to increase labor friendly supermajorities in the Illinois House and Illinois Senate.
  • Developing and implementing strategies to confront the anti-worker agendas of elected officials and right-wing policy groups.
  • Involving rank-and-file union members in disseminating the coalition’s pro-working families messaging
  • Engaging progressive partners and managing the public narrative around working family issues.
  • Keeping pro-worker values of the coalition at the forefront

Job Duties

The Director is responsible for the daily operations of IWT.  She or he is ultimately accountable to all coalition partners. The Director is responsible for:  creating a coordinated strategic plan; promoting the participation of partners in this plan; overseeing the provision of resources, technical assistance and training for partner organizations; innovating and evaluating best practices; and managing staff and contractors.

Strategic Public Campaign Development: Develop and implement an effective strategy for internal and external communications to both union audiences and the general public; including a forward-thinking plan to reach a greater targeted audience of activists and supporters through social media, mobile and email campaigns. Provide counsel to the coalition members of organizations on political and communications issues.

Communications: Serve as the liaison to members of the local and national media in order to communicate effectively the organization’s positions; pitch story ideas and attract positive press coverage; write and distribute press releases and plan press conferences; secure placement of letters to the editor and other opinion pieces; schedule and prepare for media interviews; write talking points and speeches for various speakers, including union officers, rank-and-file members, and religious and political allies; provide daily news summaries of relevant and important issues. Manage the organization’s website through the content management system, posting regular updates and information. Assist in the planning and coordination of public events, including press conferences and rallies, and more. Write and edit organizational publications; direct creative design, content and production of publications and other materials.

Develop and maintain partner participation and strengthen collaborative relationships within the Coalition: Keep partners informed of all coalition undertakings, organize and facilitate partner meetings, hold partners accountable for fulfilling their commitments to the Coalition, encourage participation in all coalition activities, help build relationships between partners, facilitate collective decision-making processes, and foster the growth of the coalition. Work with community, grassroots, and religious organizations to advance Coalition priorities and develop and maintain relationships with political and communications staff from national organizations and local affiliates; convene regular discussions to provide information, support and networking opportunities.

Qualifications and Skills

Preferred candidate will have an understanding and affiliation with labor organizations, as well as a strong knowledge of state, county, and municipal politics and policy. Candidates with strong field and communications experience are preferred. Candidate must be able to work independently while carrying out the political and communication goals of the coalition as well as having:

Experience working on political, legislative or issue campaigns;

Experience disseminating  polling, market research, and other data into strategic plans and campaigns;

Experience working for or with labor unions or labor organizations;

Experience working for or with community or progressive policy organizations;

Excellent writing skills and abilities to work effectively in a fast-paced environment under tight deadlines;

Experience managing projects such as website development and publications, from concept to completion;

Ability to travel throughout the state of Illinois as needed, including Springfield and Chicago;

Experience with social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, and website content management systems.

Additional Information:   Salary and benefits commensurate with experience.

Please Submit Resumes by January 29, 2016 to:  Illinois AFL-CIO/Chicago Federation of Labor, 534 South Second, 2nd Floor, Springfield, IL  62701 or iwt@ilafl-CIO.org. 

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ICYMI: Associated Press: Rauner Cap on Home Care Hours Promises Devastating Effects for Vulnerable Illinoisans

CHICAGO –  Bruce Rauner has thrown the state home care program in disarray with plans to cap hours for home healthcare workers in a bid to defy new federal rules that extend overtime protections to this low-wage workforce.

According to the Associated Press, 30,000 clients who need assistance because of physical or developmental disabilities will receive less-efficient and less-effective car. Most need more than 40 hours of weekly assistance and capping hours to 35 will lead to wide-scale disruption in the workforce, and in the program.

Quoted by the AP was James Muhammad, a Vice President for SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which represents  26,000 home care workers in the Home Services Program: “This is a devastating impact on families…Families now have to find other people to come into their homes.”

Rauner officials are claiming the cruel new policy is necessary to save money—but have refused to share data to back this up.

Read the full story here.

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Community Leaders Kick Off Fight for $15 and 15% Campaign with Healthcare Workers at St. Louis University Hospital

SLUH Hospital Rally 1.12.16 s2_CROP_580wAhead of Bargaining a New Contract, Community Allies commit their Support for SLUH Workers and Other Healthcare Workers in their Fight for Better Wages, and to Strengthen the Healthcare Workforce to Improve Quality Care for All Families

 

Contact: Scott.Vogel@seiuhcil.org

(January 12, 2016, St. Louis, MO) – Hours before President Obama comments on the national economy in his State of the Union address, dozens of community allies and St. Louis University Hospital workers held a rally today outside St. Louis University Hospital to launch their own groundbreaking economic initiative, the Fight for $15 and 15% campaign to support higher standards for healthcare workers within the region and across the country.

St. Louis CBS 4: Community Leaders Kick Off Fight for $15 with Workers at St. Louis Univ. Hospital

The St. Louis Post–Dispatch also covered the SLUH rally:

The Service Employees International Union plans to seek a wage increase as the labor union prepares for its first contract negotiations with St. Louis University Hospital’s new owner, SSM Health.

A handful of SEIU members petitioned outside St. Louis University Hospital on Tuesday afternoon calling for the minimum wage to be at least $15 per hour and 15 percent annual wage increases over the duration of the expected three-year contract.

SEIU represents about 650 nonclinical workers in roles such as food service and housekeeping, Lenny Jones, director of the Kansas and Missouri SEIU health care division, told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. …

The current contract is set to expire at the end of March. That contract had been negotiated between SEIU and the previous hospital owner, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. The hospital was acquired by SSM Health last year.

Caprice Nevils, a longtime employee who is also on the bargaining committee, said the desired increases are fair.

“We get raises every year but I feel that the $15 an hour would be better. I think that move would help everybody out. I think it’s fair that we get it because we’re working hard.”

screen_shot_group1_SLUH_fight_for_15_rally_CBS_KMOV_ch4_400W_01_12_16The joint effort between Jobs with Justice, Fight for 15, and SLUH workers is aimed at making a living wage a reality for broad swaths of the regional economy, including both the restaurant and healthcare sectors. With SLUH workers set to begin contract negotiations on Wednesday, workers today proposed their $15/15% platform for the new contract: a $15 wage floor for workers who currently make under that amount and 15% across-the-board raises for all workers over the life of the contract.

“We are looking forward to having a constructive dialogue with SSM Health about how to invest in our healthcare workforce by providing fair wages to all hospital workers,” said Caprice Nevils, a patient care partner at SLUH. “But we won’t accept excuses. The truth is that we can increase the wages of hospital workers, at SLUH and across the industry. And by paying workers the fair wages we have earned, starting at $15 an hour as a wage floor, we improve our local economy and community.”

On Wednesday, SLUH workers will enter into contract negotiations with SSM Health. SSM Health acquired SLUH in 2014, becoming the second largest health system in Missouri through the acquisition.

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