August 2016

SEIU Healthcare Illinois responds to Comptroller Leslie Munger’s ‘No budget, no pay’ comments at Illinois State Fair

MungerRauner

SPRINGFIELD—In addition to the spectacle of Gov. Rauner riding into the State Fair on his Harley motorcycle and using coach buses to block the view and drown out the chants of seniors, people with disabilities and parents – his constituents who have been hurt by his agenda – Comptroller Leslie Munger used the event to propose passing “no budget, no pay” legislation to guarantee an annual balanced budget.

It’s obvious that this election campaign rhetoric is aimed at making the people of Illinois think she is more concerned about them than continuing to be the “wingman” for Gov. Rauner’s destructive “Turnaround Agenda” that has wreaked havoc on every social service in our state and on those who depend on them. She admitted as much in an article published in the Springfield Journal-Register.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley released this statement in response to Munger:

“Ever since she was appointed by Gov. Rauner, Comptroller Leslie Munger has sat quietly by as her boss unleashed savage attacks on every social service depended upon by the most vulnerable in our state. In fact, she described herself as the ‘wingman’ for the governor throughout this destruction.

“She hasn’t uttered a mumbling word against the governor’s actions as service agencies literally went out of business. She sat quietly as thousands of children were thrown off of affordable child care and tens of thousands of students lost financial aid. When she had the opportunity to speak for the people, Munger has voiced support for Rauner’s devastation.

“Now she wants to propose ‘no budget, no pay’ legislation during election campaign season in an effort to make voters feel she has an independent voice and is concerned about their well being. Illinois voters have witnessed the carnage of the Rauner/Munger agenda and no electioneering rhetoric can hide the impact of the suffering that has been caused as she sat quietly by.

“There is no budget because Rauner doesn’t want one and cheerleaders like Munger are enabling the suffering to continue. Furthermore, our democracy is seriously undermined by punishing legislators who aren’t millionaires.”

 

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Mark Kirk’s Shameless Attack on SEIU Members

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August 16, 2016

Statement from Beniamino Capellupo: executive director SEIU Illinois State Council:

“The despicable attack by Senator Kirk today shows a shameless disrespect for his own hardworking constituents, who he has spent his time in the Senate attacking. He didn’t find SEIU corrupt when he came hat in hand asking us for a campaign contribution. But what’s REALLY corrupt is Kirk’s shameless allegiance to Wall Street banks and to the Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump agenda. Lagging in the polls, the man is plainly desperate to save a seat that he will lose because he so often votes against the interests of the working families of Illinois.”

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Mathis Job Shadows Caregiver in the Home of Stroke Survivor

August 16, 2016

Mathis_Mike_WAD2_08.16.16TAYLORVILLE, Ill. – Knowing that the personal care given to an aging, ill or disabled individual in their homes is some of the most difficult and necessary work happening in our communities, state representative candidate Mike Mathis spent Tuesday morning with caregiver Josephine Warren to “walk-a-day” in her shoes as she cared for Charles Riggs, a survivor of a debilitating stroke.

Charles Riggs suffered a massiMathis_Mike_WAD1_08.16.16ve stroke in 2009 which has left him unable to care for himself and dependent on caregiver Josephine Warren for most of his needs. Josephine invited Mathis to shadow her as she performed regular duties as a way to show the importance of the work she does at a time when home care givers are threatened by the uncertainty of the state’s budget. By inviting Mathis to “Walk a Day” in her shoes, Josephine shared a true picture of how hard she works as well as an intimate look at the life of an individual who needs care and who would be forced into an expensive and impersonal institution without care at home.
Care giver Josephine Warren said Charles is able to live comfortably in his own home because of the assistance given by home healthcare workers like her.

“It’s unfortunate, in fact, it’s very sad that Rep. Bourne has not voted to protect the services that Charles and others like him are able to receive. We need people like Mike Mathis in Springfield who is willing to walk a day in the shoes of those who are doing the hard work necessary to care for people who really need the help. That’s why I’m happy to support Mike,” she said.

 

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Estates of Spanish Lake Nursing Home Workers Vote to Join SEIU Healthcare Missouri

94 CNAs, dietary workers, and housekeeping staff take first step to winning a collective bargaining agreement to improve jobs and care for residents

St. Louis – Nursing home workers at Estates of Spanish Lake in St. Louis voted this week to organize with SEIU Healthcare Missouri, joining already unionized workers at Estates of St. Louis, a facility owned by the same management company, Medallion Healthcare Systems.

94 CNAs, dietary workers, and housekeeping staff comprise the bargaining unit, where workers reported going years without adequate raises or improvements to benefits. Workers see the negative impact that low wages and few benefits have on workplace turnover, which can lead to lower quality care for nursing home residents.

“It feels so good to know that we have gained a strong voice on the job by joining SEIU Healthcare Missouri,” said Sherise Penson, who works in Laundry at Estates of Spanish Lake. “I’ve been trying to support my children off of $7.75/hour, and with back-to-school around the corner it’s very difficult. We will now have the power to negotiate fair wage increases and improved benefits through our union.”

Workers hope Medallion Healthcare will respect the federal right of employees to organize and the will of the majority. Prior to the election however, Medallion Healthcare disciplined two union supporters, including Ms. Penson, and then terminated two others on the election day. SEIU Healthcare Missouri believes these actions are illegal and is pursuing NLRB charges against the employer on behalf of all four. It will demand all employees be restored and that the two unfairly terminated CNAs be returned to work with back pay.

Members of SEIU Healthcare fight to raise standards at the workplace and within their industry by fighting for a $15 minimum wage, safe staffing, Medicaid expansion for access to high-quality healthcare regardless of one’s ability to pay, and to hold employers accountable to patients and frontline caregivers.  SEIU Healthcare Missouri represents 5,400 workers in the healthcare and home care industries across the state, and join 92,000 healthcare, home care, and child care workers already united in SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas who are committed to improving jobs and care to the people we serve.

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After Class-Action Lawsuit Threat, Rauner Withdraws Termination Process for Thousands of Caregivers of People with Disabilities

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Victory for Workers and Consumers as Cruel Overtime Policy Firings Rescinded at 11th Hour

CHICAGO-In a letter delivered Tuesday, the Bruce Rauner administration is announcing officially that it will suspend its punitive “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” policy that could have led to the firing of more than 2,200 personal assistants—about 1/10th of the overall Home Services Program workforce—who care for people with disabilities.

In the face of a class-action lawsuit threatened by SEIU Healthcare Illinois on behalf of Chicago ADAPT and three plaintiffs, the Rauner administration last week rescinded its overtime policy that has thrown the entire system of care for Illinoisans with disabilities into disarray. But it wasn’t until today that the administration announced, in a letter to SEIU Healthcare Illinois attorney Robert Bloch (letter attached) that it would void the “strikes” and remove the sword that has been hanging over the head of workers whose only crime was to care for people in need.

The administration has indicated that it still intends to go forward with overtime limits via the rulemaking process.

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin in response:

“Bruce Rauner’s disastrous overtime policy has left people with disabilities in soiled clothing, stuck in unsafe positions in their beds and without groceries; and has separated fathers from caring for their sons. It has brought untold anxiety and disquiet into the lives of thousands of low-wage workers and the people for whom they care.

“Today’s announcement is another major victory for people with disabilities and for the workforce we represent. But we would never have been at this low point in the first place had Bruce Rauner listened  and collaborated instead of going it alone down a plainly illegal path.

“We repeat our call for Gov. Rauner to come to the table to come up with solutions for people with disabilities and to abandon the unrealistic system of caps he has pursued in the past. We call on him to do what’s best for Illinois instead of pursuing his rigidly punitive political agenda.”

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ICYMI: Recap of DORS Telephone Town Hall Meeting for PAs August 4, 2016

During the telephone town hall meeting for Personal Assistants on Thursday, August 4, we covered four main topics:

  • News about the State rescinding their overtime policy thanks to our class-action lawsuit, what will happen next, and our union’s plans to fight for back pay on behalf of PAs who worked more than 40 hours between May 1-August 2, but only put 40 hours on their time sheets to avoid discipline.
  • Governor Rauner’s veto of our bill that would have protected our health insurance, training, and raised wages to $15/hour, and what’s next in our fight for $15 and our fight to protect healthcare and training.
  • The background check policy: what we know and how we’re fighting back.
  • The opportunity we have this November to win a super-majority in the General Assembly of lawmakers who stand with home care workers and people with disabilities.

State Rescinds Overtime Policy Facing SEIU Healthcare & ADAPT Class-Action Lawsuit

The State announced late on Tuesday, August 2, that the overtime policy would be rescinded effective immediately. This is a huge victory for Personal Assistants and people with disabilities all across Illinois! We truly have a lot of celebrate with this announcement- however; it is a temporary victory for now.

We have fought this terrible policy from day 1 with our allies in the disability rights community because we knew it would hurt both workers and the people we serve. Under the State’s ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out’ approach to discipline thousands of Personal Assistants were at risk – meaning, if you worked overtime 3 times you would be terminated under the State’s policy. All these workers did is refuse to abandon the people with disabilities they serve who have been unable to find additional caregivers. We believe as many as 2,000 Personal Assistants were facing termination as early as August 8 if we didn’t get the State to rescind this policy.

Over the past few months, we’ve taken to the streets with our disability allies to protest against the overtime caps; we’ve testified at legislative hearings against the overtime policy; we’ve held numerous press events all over the state to call attention to the bad impact of capping PA hours; we filed an unfair labor practice charge against the state, and we filed a class action grievance against the State.

The reason the State rescinded their policy is because they knew we were filing a class-action lawsuit on Wednesday morning to seek a restraining order to stop the State from enforcing the overtime policy.

Now, this is a temporary victory because the State is saying they still want to move forward with implementing the policy as is but they will go through a formal rule making process to do it. This means that there will be the chance for advocates, Personal Assistants, people with disabilities, and our union to submit public comment and concerns about the policy and get them on the record. We can also request that the State hold hearings and take testimony from people affected by the overtime policy. The State will also have to convince a group of state lawmakers on the rule making committee to approve their policy.

We have a lot more work to do to win an overtime policy that doesn’t hurt people with disabilities and workers, but in the meantime this means that Personal Assistants can go back to working their overtime hours without fear of discipline and you will be paid time and half for hours worked over 40 hours in one week.

Our union is going to fight to ensure that all occurrences that were given to PAs under this unfair overtime policy also get rescinded, and we will keep everyone posted on updates regarding those past disciplinary occurrences.

We do not know when the State will officially propose a new overtime policy, but it could be very soon. From when they announce the new policy, we will only have a few months to do everything we can to make sure that any final policy respects our rights and the rights of those we care for.
To get things started in that fight, we are planning an action in Chicago on Tuesday, August 9 at 2 p.m. to call on the Governor to rescind the overtime policy permanently and to eliminate disciplinary occurrences already given to thousands of PAs. If you can join, meet us at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL) at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9. 

Since May 1 we have heard from a lot of Personal Assistants that they continued to work their overtime hours, but were not claiming those hours on their time sheets to avoid getting a disciplinary occurrence. Essentially, many PAs were working for free so that their consumer continued to get the care they need and so that they wouldn’t face possible termination under the overtime policy. This is completely unfair and now that the policy is rescinded our union is going to fight to get Personal Assistants back pay for the overtime hours they have worked since May 1 but didn’t claim on their time sheets.

We are encouraging Personal Assistants who have been working their overtime hours but not submitting those hours on their time sheets to avoid going over 40 to complete new time sheets with those hours worked to both their local DORS office and to our union at:

SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Attn: Home Care Division

2229 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60608

 

Rauner’s Veto & Next Steps in Our Fight for $15 & Our Fight to Protect Health Insurance and Training

We passed our bills in the Legislature this session to raise our pay to $15/ hour and protect our health insurance and training. Governor Bruce Rauner then had the choice to either sign and approve these bills, or veto them. He made the wrong choice and stood against us. The Governor used his veto power to deny us a living wage – it’s no surprise given all of his attacks at the bargaining table.

At the bargaining table Governor Rauner has spent the last year demanding that we accept a four-year wage freeze and give up our health insurance and training. These proposals are unacceptable and we fought back by moving our bill through the General Assembly to side-step the attacks we were seeing at the bargaining table, and we had overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate. State lawmakers passed our bill with wide margins, but that support wasn’t enough to stop the Governor’s veto.

But, this November lawmakers will have an opportunity to override Bruce Rauner’s veto. A veto-override requires 3/5 of the General Assembly to vote with us and against Governor Rauner.

Last summer when the governor tried to raise the DON score to kick thousands of people with disabilities and seniors out of home care programs, we launched a massive statewide campaign to get republicans on our side and it worked! That’s how we were able to stop the governor last year and we can do it again this year. It’s just going to take a lot more PAs and consumers in the streets and taking action.

In the last few weeks, Governor Rauner also vetoed our bills that would have protected the Community Care Program for seniors who need home care services, our bill for $15/hour for home care aides who work with seniors, and our bill to protect child care providers from attacks at the bargaining table. So, now is the time to start talking with our state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about what’s at stake with these vetoes. We especially need to talk with Republican lawmakers about the importance of standing up to Governor Rauner and siding with their constituents by overriding his vetoes.

Background Check Policy: What We Know & How We’re Fighting Back

The State implemented their background check policy without negotiating with our union like they should have. As a result, we have filed unfair labor practice charges and we continue to demand more information about what disqualifying crimes could result in PAs losing their jobs.

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.

As stated above, we have filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the state on the background check policy just as we did with the overtime policy, and we are also exploring another lawsuit because again the state did not follow the law when they created these new rules about background checks. We will keep everyone updated as new details emerge.

November Election is Opportunity Win Veto-Proof Super-Majority in General Assembly of Lawmakers Who Stand with US

Just because the governor vetoed our bills doesn’t mean this fight is over. We will be doing everything we can to keep the pressure on our legislators so they vote to override the governor’s veto this November, but 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. Imagine if we had a super majority of state lawmakers who stood with home care workers and consumers – that would mean we would automatically have the votes to override the governor’s vetoes and ensure a responsible budget gets passed as soon as possible that includes revenue and necessary funding for vital services.

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 win on our issues.

The reality is, Governor Rauner has no interest in settling a fair contract with us – we’ve been in negotiations for over a year now and he is still sticking to his unreasonable demands that would take us backwards by freezing our wages and eliminating our healthcare and our training. This year we saw that we do have the support in the state legislature to take on the Governor – we’re just a few votes shy of the super majority we need and we can fix that on Election Day if we do the work to get out the vote. Everything we do between now and 2018 must work towards ensuring Governor Rauner is a one-term governor.

Getting the message out to voters about all the terrible things this governor has done to the most vulnerable people in our state is critical – along with calling out the state lawmakers who are choosing the governor over their constituents. Bruce Rauner has deep pockets and is prepared to spend millions to re-elect the lawmakers he can control in Springfield. While we will never have the kind of money the governor has, but we have the people power and that can beat money every time.

To get involved in upcoming election work, call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348.

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Candidate for 112th District House Rep Walks A Day With Home Healthcare Provider

Thursday morning, candidate for Illinois District 112 Representative Katie Stuart experienced firsthand the vital role home healthcare providers play in the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. Stuart participated in a “walk a day,” where she worked directly with personal assistant Richard Jones and one of his consumers, Eric Luckett.

“I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the “Walk-a-Day event with Eric and Richard” said Stuart. “I will stand up against Governor Rauner and Rep. Dwight Kay’s extreme policies that will hurt our most vulnerable. I will fight to ensure such critical programs like in home care is funded at a level that no one is at risk of losing care.”

Personal Assistants like Jones provide invaluable care that seniors and people with disabilities rely on to live full lives in their homes. In a major victory for people with disabilities, seniors and home healthcare providers, Governor Bruce Rauner rescinded his disastrous new rules this week which limited overtime hours for providers. Rauner’s policy restricted workers to 40 hours per week and put the burden on the consumer to find another caregiver to work the additional hours. Because of this, Jones had to let go of another consumer in order to make certain Luckett receives the 40 hours of care he needs each week.

“Home care is my voice, my legs, my transportation, my everything,” said Luckett of his personal assistants. “Without them, I probably would have killed myself. They make my life worthwhile. They’ve become family.”

Some 28,000 home healthcare providers like Jones have been working without a contract across the state of Illinois for more than a year. Rauner has tried to use the overtime rule as a way to extract a 4-year wage freeze from care providers. Healthcare providers like Jones are a literal lifeline for people like Luckett, who requires daily care.

“Having people come to my house shows that there’s people out there who really care for me, and it gives me hope that you’re out there fighting for me,” said Luckett.

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State of Illinois rescinds disastrous overtime policy

 

The Disabled and Labor will continue fight to ensure longevity of Home Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                  

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

CHICAGO-After months of pressure from people with disabilities and workers in the State of Illinois Home Services Program, including a pending class-action lawsuit, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration announced it has rescinded a disastrous new policy of limiting overtime hours in the program. About 8,000 personal assistants were at risk because of the policy, and it was anticipated that up to 2,200 personal assistants would have been terminated from the program this month as a result of Illinois’ new policy.

08.03.16 Access Living OT rescind event 1The announcement is great news to people like Michael Grice, a consumer in the Home Services Program who employs multiple personal assistants.  Since Governor Rauner’s unfair overtime policy went into effect on May 1, 2016, two of Grice’s personal assistants received warning letters from the State of Illinois and one was forced to drop Grice as a client.  “Illinois’ job is to support people in the Home Services program, not make life harder and threaten to force them back into institutions,” Grice said. “Now, because the policy has been revoked, people with disabilities in the Home Services program can get the services they need to be independent without worry about losing their employees.”

People with disabilities across Illinois utilize the Home Services Program. Under Governor Rauner’s proposed policy, many people in the program would have been forced to hire additional personal assistants, nearly impossible for some people in less populated areas with a limited pool of personal assistants from which to choose. “Governor Rauner’s policy does not reflect the reality of thousands of people with disabilities and personal assistants in the program,” said Amber Smock, the Director of Advocacy at Access Living.  “Now, the State of Illinois must work with people with disabilities and the labor community to come up with a policy that supports the independence of consumers in the program and is fair to workers in the program.”

The announcement to rescind the policy came just hours before a class-action was to be filed against the policy. The lawsuit was to be filed by Chicago ADAPT, a grassroots disability rights organization with many members who are part of the Home Services Program, and three plaintiffs who are people with disabilities from Peoria, Carbondale and Chicago.

In May, Governor Rauner and the State of Illinois began to illegally implement the new overtime policy before a public comment period required by law.  Now that the policy has been rescinded, an Illinois Policy is expected to go through a rules making process that will allow for public comment. “From almost the moment the Rauner policy was implemented, people with disabilities and caregivers have suffered terrible hardships,” said Terri Harkin, Vice President for Healthcare with SEIU, the Union that represents 25,000 personal assistants in the Home Services Program. “Now, Illinois has a chance to reverse those hardships. They have a chance to develop a strong policy and do what is right for people with disabilities and caregivers.”

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