June 2016

STOPGAP BUDGET A BAND-AID FOR RAUNER’S SELF-INFLICTED WOUND TO ILLINOIS

SPRINGFIELD-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to passage today of the Illinois stopgap budget.

“The stopgap budget approved today by the General Assembly, while a step in the right direction, is merely a Band-Aid for the self-inflicted wounds Bruce Rauner has caused to Illinois. All around the state we see the damage that his crisis has caused. Home healthcare agencies have shuttered their doors for good. Some 55,000 fewer children receive child care than a year before. Rape crisis centers, addiction services, violence prevention programs-the list of social services permanently damaged goes on and on.

“When the income tax rollback went into effect last year, we all know that its benefits rolled to the richest among us, to people like Bruce Rauner. What we need now are permanent, progressive revenue solutions to fully fund the needs of our most vulnerable and to maintain our infrastructure and so that we will never be in this position again.

“But none of this human suffering was necessary and all of it was avoidable. While today provides some temporary relief, as we head into November, we must remember that Bruce Rauner was willing to use working families, children, seniors and people with disabilities as human hostages to extract political concessions that had NOTHING to do with the welfare of the people of Illinois. And Illinois now is worse for it.”

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Northwestern Memorial Hospital Workers Join the “Fight For $15” Movement!

13533059_1211434062200582_1621465183922188977_n As Chicago’s Minimum Wage Set to Increase to $10.50 On July 1st, Northwestern Hospital Workers Announced They Are Joining the “Fight for $15” Movement

CONTACT:  Scott Vogel, scott.vogel@seiuhcil.org

(June 28th, 2016, Chicago) – Northwestern Memorial Hospital workers announced they are joining the “Fight for $15” movement to set a new wage floor for all low-wage healthcare workers at Northwestern Hospital and across the industry. On July 1st, Chicago’s minimum wage will rise another fifty cents to $10.50 an hour. But for Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s front line staff, a substantial number of workers will only make a $1 to $1.50 above the Chicago minimum wage despite the fact that they are critical support staff for Chicago’s flagship hospital.

Multiple Chicago TV stations reported the Northwestern Hospital workers kicking off their effort including NBC’s morning and evening broadcasts, CBS, Univision and Telemundo.  WGN 720AM radio interview also interviewed Lakeena Whitfield, a Patient Care Technician about why she’s joining the fight to life the wage floor for all hospital workers.

The Chicago Sun-Times published a truly remarkable story about NMH workers launching the Fight for $15 campaign:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital health care workers called on the hospital Tuesday to raise their wages to a minimum of $15 per hour.

“I don’t feel it’s appropriate for my members and my co-workers not to be able to make a livable wage,” said Kimberly Smith, a patient care technician at Northwestern Memorial and member of the SEIU executive board. “So here we are as hospital workers letting [Northwestern] know that we want $15 an hour.”

Smith joined roughly 30 other Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois in the “Fight For $15” movement at the demonstration across the street from the downtown hospital.

The minimum wage in Chicago expected to rise to $10.50 on Friday.

The lowest starting wage at the hospital is $11.50, meaning, several members of SEIU will start working at the hospital for a just dollar over the minimum wage, according to Smith.

One hundred seventy-five of the 1160 of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois members, which include patient escorts and custodians, make under $15 per hour at Northwestern Memorial, according to the SEIU research team.

“I believe anybody should make a livable wage,” said Lakeena Whitfield, a patient care technician at Northwestern Memorial. Whitfield used to make $11.81 per hour as an environmental service worker at the hospital. She said she went back to school to become a patient care technician in order to make her current wage of $18.91.

“I am standing up for everybody – the ones that are starting off as new employees and the older ones that are not quite in their tier yet,” she said. “I believe if we fight for one another we will make progress and things can change.”

Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald’s Employee and single parent, spoke to the crowd in support, saying it’s unfair that she has to decide whether to put food on the table or pay a bill.

“We share the same struggle,” Alvarez told the group. “We work for employers who make millions and billions of dollars in profit and we don’t get any of it. It’s time we start seeing some of the benefits. We have to keep fighting and we will win.”

Northwestern Memorial’s banking statements reveal that its revenue after the second quarter ending Feb. 29 was $2.1 billion, according those at the rally.

Hospital workers along with elected officials, including State Representative Kelly Cassidy (14th District) and Juliana Stratton, the presumptive State Representative for the 5th District, were joined by leaders from the fast-food Fight for $15 campaign called upon Northwestern Memorial Hospital to continue to be an innovator and industry leader by setting a higher wage floor of $15 an hour. Many patients, employees and members of the community are unaware that such a respected hospital such as Northwestern pays such low wages and that many hospital workers are unable to afford the Northwestern’s own health insurance plan.

“It is a constant struggle to make ends meet at the end of the month. The work itself is exhausting. I know how hard I work and that I contribute to the success of Northwestern Hospital. I’m simply asking for a fair wage of $15 an hour on behalf of all my fellow hospital and healthcare workers,” said Juraine Johnson who works in Environmental Services.

State Representative Christian Mitchell, whose district includes Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s downtown campus, released a letter to the hospital workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois expressing his strong support for healthcare workers earning $15 an hour. Rep. Mitchell urged Northwestern to strengthen its hospital workforce by raising the starting wage floor and to become a true industry leader.

Rep. Mitchell wrote: “As the State Representative of the 26th District, it is my responsibility to work on behalf of the many diverse constituencies of my district in Springfield. Among those constituencies are the many hardworking employees of Northwestern Memorial Hospital…I am supportive of the efforts of SEIU Healthcare Illinois to ensure that all of their members earn a living wage of $15 an hour…But it is my firm belief that NMH can be a leader in ensuring their workers are compensated fairly and that such an investment will lead to continued growth for NMH, its healthcare providers and the patients it serves.”(Letter from State Rep. Mithcell to NMH Workers Supporting Fight for $15 ).

Right now, Northwestern Hospital has a “two-tiered” wage system where front line and support staff start at about $11.50 an hour. But workers must serve five years until NMH gives them substantial wage increases or to earn a living wage.

Northwestern Hospital workers are leading the campaign to raise the starting wage to $15 an hour for all workers within the Northwestern Hospital system—including workers on the Northwestern Hospital campus who make minimum wage and are only getting a raise because of city ordinance – and for healthcare workers throughout the entire region.

 

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11 a.m. TODAY, Capitol Blue Room: SADNESS AS GRIM RAUNERVERSARY MARKS MASSIVE HARM TO CARE IN ILLINOIS;

Sens. Biss and McCann, Rep. Wallace Joined By Providers–Who Have Been Without Collective Bargaining Agreement for One Year–to Update on Devastation to Children, Seniors and People With Disabilities

blueroom_homecareworker1SPRINGFIELD- This week marks the one-year anniversary (aka “Raunversary) of Bruce Rauner’s cuts to child care for tens of thousands of Illinois children and of his allowing the contract to expire for the state’s 52,000 child care and home healthcare workers. This week also begins the second year Gov. Rauner has held Illinois families hostage to his anti-union agenda by refusing to negotiate a budget. 
 
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), Sen. Sam McCann (R-Jacksonville) and Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford) will join child care providers and home healthcare providers at a press conference TODAY at 11 a.m. in the Capitol Blue Room to discuss the devastation caused by Rauner via his budget impasse, via unilateral administrative rules changes and at the bargaining table.
 
All three lawmakers voted for a bill to preserve and expand the Child Care Assistance Program, which has seen a 55,000-child drop under Rauner. Home healthcare for Illinois seniors and people with disabilities has faced similar destruction through a combination of delayed payments, underfunding and administrative actions as Illinois enters its 2nd year without a budget.
 
WHAT: “RAUNERVERSARY” Press Conference to Mark Devastation to Care in Illinois.
WHEN:  11 a.m., TODAY, June 29, 2016.
WHERE: Blue Room, Capitol.
WHO:  Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), Sen. Sam McCann (R-Jacksonville), Rep. Litesa  Wallace (D-Rockford), State Child Care and Home Healthcare Providers
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Northwestern Hospital Workers Kickoff “Fight for $15” Campaign!

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Large_Sign_NMH_Northwestern_Hospital_Workers_Fight_for_15_raise_the_flooor_raise_the_ceiling_v1_06_24_16Northwestern Memorial Hospital Workers!

We need you to join us for our press conference to kickoff our campaign to Fight for $15!

 

WHEN: Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

TIME: Please arrive on site starting at 11:45am!
Press event to start at 12pm (Noon) sharp!

WHERE:
Lot across the street from Feinberg employee entrance on Fairbanks, between Huron and Erie 675 N Fairbanks Ct, Chicago, IL 60611

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For Personal Assistants: 6/22 Telephone Town Hall Recap

Here’s what we discussed on our telephone town hall meeting that took place Wednesday, June 22. If you have any further questions, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348. 

June 30 is the one year anniversary of our union contracts expiring for 52,000 Illinois personal assistants and child care providers in our union. It is also the one year anniversary of our state going without a budget.

PAs are some of the lowest paid state workers, but the governor has spent the last year demanding we accept a four-year wage freeze at the bargaining table, in addition to elimination of our health insurance and training. He has implemented a terrible overtime policy that is hurting both consumers and PAs, and now he’s pushing forward with a background check program without negotiating the terms with our union.

Governor Rauner is also attacking home care workers and consumers in his budget. The governor has tried to kick people with disabilities and seniors out of the home care programs they rely on at every turn. Last summer he wanted to raise the DON score so people had to be even sicker and more disabled to get the services they need, and this year the governor wants to slash $200 million from the Community Care Program for seniors who need home care services.

Bargaining Updates

We had our last bargaining session with the State on Wednesday, June 15, and while we came ready to make progress, the State did not. Instead of looking for common ground and places where we could agree, the state continues to demand their outrageous proposals:

  • A four-year wage freeze
  • Elimination of our health insurance
  • Elimination of our training program

Overtime Policy

The State began enforcing their terrible overtime policy on May 1st. Hundreds of PAs have seen their paychecks slashed due to the 40 hour per week cap, and consumers are scrambling to find additional providers to work their hours over 40.

There are over 2,000 PAs who received occurrences from the State since May 1st for working their normal hours because they couldn’t abandon their consumers. We have heard reports that those PAs and consumers are receiving letters threatening them about the 3-strikes and you’re out policy. Meaning, the State is poised to fire over 2,000 caregivers whose only crime is that they refuse to abandon the people with disabilities they serve.

We have already filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the State because they implemented this policy without coming to an agreement with our union. Earlier this month, we released a special report that highlighted all the issues with the policy and shared the heart-breaking personal stories of those impacted from across Illinois. Last week personal assistant Paralee Stewart traveled to Washington, D.C. and spoke on a panel at the Department of Labor explaining the pain and suffering that the overtime policy is causing. We are also in talks with state lawmakers about introducing a bill to try and stop this policy.

Click here for instructions on how your consumer can apply for an exception, and for justifications forms and affidavits if you are a PA who is choosing to continue to work your hours over 40. 

IMPACT (Illinois Medicaid Program Advanced Cloud Technology) Background Check System

The State is telling us that they are obligated to start enforcing a background check system under new federal guidelines. However, because PAs have a union, the state does not have the right to implement new policies without negotiating with us and coming to an agreement first.

Our union completely understands the importance of people with disabilities having caregivers they can count on to have their best interests at heart, but it’s also important that the rights of consumers and PAs are protected. Consumers should be able to continue to choose who they hire, and consumers and PAs should be able to obtain waivers if they have something in their background that comes up in the background check. The State has given us very little information regarding what exactly the background checks will be screening for – this is very problematic and scary, especially if these background checks will ban PAs from the program.

We have filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the State on the background check policy just as we did with the overtime policy.

The State has informed us that if a PA does not fill out the IMPACT form, they will stop paying them for their services. With that in mind, we encourage PAs to fill out the paperwork to enroll in the IMPACT system by June 30, but we will keep fighting to get clarity and ensure this policy does not do more punishing than protecting. 

If a PA is notified that they will be terminated due to the results of the background checks, we urge you to notify our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 immediately so we can represent you and provide you with possible options.

Legislative Updates

Since the first of the year, hundreds of PAs have done their part – attending meetings and actions, speaking out in the press, talking to fellow PAs about getting involved, and meeting with our state lawmakers. That’s how we were able to pass our bill that would set a minimum wage of $15/hour for PAs and that would protect our health insurance and training. In addition to the bill for PAs, we also passed legislation to raise wages for home care aides at private agencies who work with seniors to $15/hour, and we passed bills to protect the child care workforce from attacks at the bargaining table, and a bill to expand the Child Care Assistance Program so more working parents can get the quality affordable child care services they need so they can go to work. Lawmakers also passed a bill to protect the Community Care Program from Governor Rauner’s proposed cuts.

These bills are now sitting on the governor’s desk and he has a little over one month left to sign or veto these bills. Even if the governor vetoes our bills, that doesn’t mean this fight is over. If we can muster a few more votes from republicans in the General Assembly we would have the support we need for a veto-override (3/5 of the General Assembly).

In the coming weeks, we will be calling on legislators and the governor to do the right thing and support personal assistants and people with disabilities. While we hope they will do the right thing, we all know this is an election year and Governor Rauner is threatening republicans to stick with him or else. The governor has millions of dollars that he’s ready to unleash this summer and fall ahead of the November elections, and state republicans know that the governor will either use that money to help them or to hurt them.

While we will be doing everything we can to keep the pressure on our legislators so they vote to override the governor’s veto if the time comes, we must also have a long-term strategy so we don’t find ourselves in this same place a year from now.

That’s why the elections this fall are so critical. State lawmakers who choose the governor over their constituents have no business being re-elected to represent us in Springfield.

We have a huge opportunity this November to elect more lawmakers who understand the importance of home care services and who are committed to raising standards for home care workers and consumers. With a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly and thousands of PAs and people with disabilities engaged and taking action, we have a plan that will stop this governor and a plan to win a fair contract that we deserve.

But, we cannot do it alone. We need YOU to get involved and join us. There are lots of upcoming opportunities to get involved so please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to find out how you can help and join this critical fight!

 

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Hubris: The Bruce Rauner Re-Election Announcement

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Greg Kelley in response to news that Gov. Bruce Rauner intends to seek re-election:

“Last week, Bruce Rauner went before 400 or so executives of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to assure them he was ‘all in’ for them. Yesterday, when he canceled a Juneteenth Day event at the DuSable Museum after outcry from the African American community, he blamed ‘special interests.’

“In Bruce Rauner’s Illinois, a person of color, a person with disabilities seeking choice over who provides them with intimate services, a low-wage worker seeking health insurance, a senior trying to live in their home, a person seeking help to break the chains of addiction, an Alzheimer’s patient seeking home healthcare, a working mother wanting help to care for her child so she can get to her job-THESE are special interests.

“But the REAL special interests, the corporations who ship jobs overseas and dodge their tax responsibilities at home, the investment houses that use outrageous instruments to avoid paying their fair share while encouraging massive layoffs, the employers who put profits over the safety of their workers, the companies who resist paying their workers a living wage- these special interests have a special place at Rauner’s table, in his wine clubs and at his side.

“Bruce Rauner has been a failure as a governor in his brief time in office, has made the long-term structural problems facing Illinois even worse, has sought to instigate an end to labor peace and has deliberately used the human suffering of others as a bargaining chip to enact a divisive political program. What’s more, he has been unwilling to fulfill his obligation to pass a budget and continues to tour the state in a perpetual political blame game.

“It is the height of hubris for Bruce Rauner to suggest he deserves another term when we can scarcely begin to describe the damage he is doing in his first. The people he is harming can’t stand one more day of the suffering caused by Rauner, to say nothing of the nightmare prospect of four more years.”

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Special Report: One Month In, Illinois Overtime Policy Disrupting Care, Hurting People with Disabilities, Workers, & Families

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On Thursday, June 2, SEIU Healthcare Illinois joined Access Living, Caring Across Generations, the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, and the National Employment Law Project in releasing a special report that highlights the myriad of issues and complications stemming from Governor Rauner’s roll-out of a new overtime policy aimed at circumventing federal rules extending overtime pay protections to home care workers.

These rigid and ill-advised new overtime restrictions are disrupting the care system and harming workers, people with disabilities, and families – just as stakeholders warned.

Read the full report here. 

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Spotlight: Northwestern Hospital Patient Escorts Struggle to Make Ends Meet Earning Less than $15 an Hour

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Rally_Signs_SLUH_Fight_for_15_and_15_percent_Raises_v2_01_08_16_Page_2DID YOU KNOW THAT…

healthcare workers at Pennsylvania’s largest private employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), recently won $15 an hour wages! This historic breakthrough, along with $15 an hour victories in California and New York, will lift thousands of workers out of poverty. These wage increases inject tens of millions of dollars into communities and will lift up working families and boost our economy. This is a huge inspiration for our NMH workers who are also beginning our own Fight for $15!

 

Ray Reeves senior employee 10 years_NMH_CROPRay Reeves, Patient Escort: “I’ve worked for Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 10 years now.  Even though I make over $15 an hour, I still struggle to pay my own bills.  I can’t even imagine the sheer difficulty for my fellow NMH workers who are starting out only making $11 or so an hour, many of whom have families to support too. It’s not right.  Northwestern is a large, respected and innovative hospital.  It should be leading the healthcare industry by setting a fair and decent wage floor of $15 an hour to attract qualified healthcare workers.  That’s why I’m joining the Fight for $15 at NMH!”

 

 

IMG_0975_Low wage worker_Victoria_King_patient_escort_NMHVictoria King, Patient Escort:“I love caring for other people. That’s what drew me to work at Northwestern Hospital in the first place.  But my passion for my work, quite frankly, still doesn’t cover my bills at the end of every month. If I made a $15 hourly wage, I would feel more secure in my life.  I wouldn’t be so stressed out all the time trying to figure which bills to pay and which ones to put off.  And I know that my fellow workers’ lives would be dramatically improved if we all earned $15 an hour. That’s why I”m joining this Fight for $15, because I believe in fighting for fundamental fairness!”

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