November 2016

BREAKING: General Assembly passes SB 261 to protect & strengthen supports for people with disabilities

Access Living & SEIU Healthcare Illinois Statement on Passage of Senate Bill 261

Legislation protects and strengthens supports for people with disabilities

“We applaud passage of Senate Bill 261, which defends the right of people with disabilities to decide who cares for them in their homes. Passage of SB 261 sends a strong message to the state to do better and work more closely with stakeholders in improving the vastly successful Home Service Program. And it provides an opportunity for the Illinois Department of Human Services to end a year-long abuse of a Federal overtime rule that was intended to strengthen services, not cut care for people with disabilities.

“We have learned that the administration at the 11th Hour is proposing a new overhaul of its overtime rules, only weeks after proclaiming its existing rules nearly “perfect.” Any new proposal needs to be carefully vetted by the people who utilize the program, as well as the community of advocates and caregivers who have helped build it into such a success over the years.

“In the meantime, we urge the governor to sign SB 261 and help mend a program sent into total disarray with a confusing, unnecessary and unlawful use of the administrative process.

“Finally, we are grateful to the advocates in the General Assembly who have voted to protect the thousands of women and men who are able to stay in their homes and communities with dignity directly as a result of a program that has been built up over the years, in bipartisan fashion and with input from the people it’s intended to serve.”



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Hundreds Take Over Streeterville Intersection as Momentum Builds for Hospital Fight for $15

Rally to support a living wage and affordable healthcare for Northwestern Memorial Hospital workers part of nationwide Day of Action marking the four-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 Movement

ChicagoHundreds gathered to support a living wage and affordable healthcare for Northwestern Memorial Hospital workers Tuesday morning in Streeterville . They marched and took over the intersection of McClurg St & Huron Ave. The rally was part of a historic national Day of Action marking the four-year anniversary of the Fight for $15 Movement. Participants in the Day of Action included elected officials, McDonald’s fast-food cooks and cashiers striking from coast to coast, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, hospital workers in Pittsburgh and other fast-food workers, combined with mass civil disobedience by working Americans across the service economy.

“Everyday, these hospital workers’ commitment to the highest quality standards is evident in their work inside the walls of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, making it possible for the health system to earn praise for excellence in healthcare,” said Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. “Today, the workers are taking to the streets to show their dedication to providing quality care and highlight the need for $15 and access to affordable healthcare for all. Despite the obvious value of their work, many must struggle to survive and lack access to affordable health insurance.”

Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH)’s system is one of Chicago’s most successful and profitable hospitals which reported earning $1.8 billion in profit in 2015 alone. At the same time, many hospital workers there struggle to afford basic necessities and do not have affordable health insurance. 175 workers at the hospital earn less than $15 an hour. Today, workers asked the hospital to be a leader in the field and pay wages that are reflective of profits.

“My co-workers and I keep this hospital clean, protecting patients from infection. Our work matters and we all deserve a $15 minimum wage,” said Marcus Buell, who has worked as a housekeeper at NMH for six years.  A starting housekeeper at NHM makes less than $12 an hour and has to work five years to reach $15. Marcus says if the hospital established a floor of $15 an hour it would reduce employee turnover and help hospital workers struggling to make ends meet.

Workers also asked the hospital to help beat back promised efforts by Congressional Republicans to attack and potentially dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA provides millions of Americans with affordable health insurance, including many hospital workers. As a leader in the medical field, Northwestern could be a powerful voice for its workers and patients in saying “no” to this attack on the ACA.


NMH Pic1

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Passage of Senate Bill 261 Shows Desire to Preserve Consumer Choice in Home Services Program

SPRINGFIELD – Following is the joint statement of Access Living and SEIU Healthcare Illinois following passage Wednesday of Senate Bill 261, legislation to reverse the implementation of Rauner rules that have undermined the principle of choice in home healthcare services for people with disabilities as part of the Home Services Program:

“Avoiding costly and preventable institutionalization by ensuring that people with disabilities have the right to choose and manage their own personal assistants has been the guiding principle of the highly successful Home Services Program for decades. Through the Home Services Program, thousands of people with disabilities live in their own homes with support from workers they trust to provide personal care. In hearings yesterday, we saw a Rauner administration struggling to show how their implementation of overtime limits did not fundamentally undermine this principle of choice.

“That’s why we applaud the passage of Senate Bill 261, which further enshrines the independence of consumers who rely on home healthcare to stay in their homes and in their communities with dignity. For three painful months this year, consumers of the program endured hardship and uncertainty when the Department of Human Services implemented unfair and costly overtime rules for the Home Services Program. They were shut out of the process, but instead of listening to their stories and the cries of activists around the state to develop a plan that supports people with disabilities and their personal assistants the Rauner administration chose to go back and apply their rules via an administrative process they unlawfully ignored the first time.

“Senate Bill 261 is just one part of the effort to tell the Rauner administration,  it must incorporate the feedback of stakeholders and honor the commitment to independence and choice that have served as the foundation for the Home Services Program since its inception. We call for its swift passage in the House.”


Left: Adam Ballard, Access Living Center: Sen. Kim Lightford Right: KL Cleeton, home care client; Lillie Cleeton, home care worker; Amber Smock, Access Living

Press conference to unviel Senate Bill 261. Pictured Left: Adam Ballard, Access Living Center: Sen. Kim Lightford Right: KL Cleeton, home care consumer; Lillie Cleeton, home care worker; Amber Smock, Access Living

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Veto Override in Senate of Child Care (SB 2536) and Home Healthcare (SB 2931) Protection Bills Defies Rauner Attacks

SPRINGFIELD-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher following the veto override in the Illinois Senate today of Senate Bills 2536 and 2931, legislation to protect the state’s child care and home healthcare workforce from cuts to health insurance and vital training:

“The working families of Illinois who rely on affordable child care to have a shot in this economy and the people with disabilities who rely on home healthcare to remain in their homes and communities can be grateful to the senators who today stood up to Bruce Rauner’s attack on their ladder to economic opportunity and to their welfare and peace of mind.

“The veto overrides of Senate Bill 2536 and Senate Bill 2931 sent a loud message that Illinois is fed up with Rauner’s single-minded effort to dismantle the social safety net here one thread at a time. Ensuring that state child care and home healthcare workers receive adequate training and health insurance (not to mention an actual living wage) is an important step and also is a matter of justice for a workforce constituted primarily of women and people of color. To this point, and now in their 19th month without a contract, these workers and the people for whom they care have been summarily disrespected by this governor at the bargaining table, in the budget process and via unlawful administrative rules.

“With the bills in the hands of the House, now is a good time for lawmakers of all parties to put aside partisan finger-pointing and stand up for those programs that provide the best chance to restore a brighter future for the children of Illinois and their working families as well as honor the principles of independence and choice that underlie the home healthcare system.”

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In Solidarity With AFSCME Council 31

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare President Keith Kelleher in response to the Illinois Labor Relations Board’s decision Tuesday to ignore the findings of an administrative law judge and declare impasse in negotiations with AFSCME Council 31:

“The decision by Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked labor board to join in the governor’s attack on AFSCME Council 31 is disgraceful, but it’s just the next step in Rauner’s single-minded mission to end labor peace in Illinois. While Illinoisans overwhelmingly rejected his agenda at the polls last week, Rauner continues his march toward destroying the power that flows to workers when they choose to organize collectively. It’s a power under attack in Washington by Donald Trump the same way it is here in Illinois with his ally Bruce Rauner.

“Under Rauner, more than 50,000 of our state child care and home healthcare workers have been without a contract for some 19 months. We stand in solidarity with AFSCME now and in the fights to come. The future of the labor movement in Illinois and across our nation depends on it.”



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What Does It Mean? New and Ugly ‘Normal’ of Rauner Campaign Cash Leaves an Illinois STILL Opposed to His Divisive Agenda; Time For a Fully Funded Budget NOW

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Tuesday’s general election results:

Sign Stand up for Seniors and Kids“Yesterday we saw an unprecedented tidal wave of cash from Bruce Rauner and a few of his billionaire friends rejected by millions of Illinois voters who value fairness and fair play, who believe that the budget should NOT be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable and those least able to pay, and who reject an agenda that caters only to a handful of millionaires and billionaires.

“Illinois held the line against national trends and we are proud to have been part of a movement that proves that organized people can beat organized money.

“In this vein, voters in Illinois sent back to Springfield a General Assembly overwhelmingly opposed to the Rauner agenda, which includes unconscionable cuts to home healthcare for seniors and people with disabilities, and cuts to child care, which helps working families.

“Republican legislative candidates were forced to run directly AWAY from the Rauner agenda. Challengers were outspent by substantial margins and, even facing those odds and while Rauner picked up a few seats, a champion like Katie Stuart was able to prevail against an entrenched incumbent.

“And in the one place where the Rauner agenda WAS on the ballot statewide, Susana Mendoza was able to defeat his self-proclaimed “wing man,” who was directly associated with the signature feature of this governor’s administration, his failure to properly
prioritize and fund social services for children, seniors and people with disabilities.

“It’s time for Gov. Rauner to heed the voices of his citizens, to release his budget hostages and to immediately get to the work of passing a fully funded budget that honors our commitments and values — and requires sacrifices from ALL Illinoisans, not just the poorest and most vulnerable.

“And it’s up to the next General Assembly to stand up for the people across Illinois who cried out Tuesday through the voice of their ballot that they want no part of Rauner’s divisive ‘Turnaround Agenda’ and who instead want an economy and a state government that works for everyone.

“Our members worked hard up and down the ticket with our allies to stand up to Rauner’s toxic blizzard of money. We expect this same coalition to grow in strength and to continue to oppose any effort to dismantle the social safety net or attack the rights of workers in Illinois.”












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Katie Stuart Wins Election, Will Be an Able Champion in the Next General Assembly

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Katie Stuart be elected to the 112th House District, defeating Rep. Dwight Kay:

“In her win tonight, Katie Stuart showed thatKatieStuartCongrats1 hard work and an honest message can beat back an entrenched incumbent whose campaign is fueled by a toxic flood of Bruce Rauner cash.

“Our caregivers in the 112th House District were motivated to work for Stuart not just because of her qualities as a candidate and the honesty, integrity and hard work we’ll know she will bring to Springfield. But also because of the false promises of the incumbent, who paid lip service to our issues but instead watched as Bruce Rauner enacted massive cuts to child care and home healthcare.

“Stuart will be an able champion in the next General Assembly, which MUST pass a fully funded budget that preserves social service programs and does not ask the most of those who can afford to pay the least. Likewise, the next legislature has an obligation to preserve the system of child care and home healthcare that has been stitched together with care over the years in bipartisan fashion.

“Katie teaches people how to solve problems every day. As she heads to Springfield, we are confident she will be up to solving some of the biggest problems yet facing Illinois.”



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Mendoza Win Shows Demand for Rauner Accountability

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley in response to Susana Mendoza’s victory as comptroller:

“By electing Susana Mendoza tonight, Illinois voters are demanding accountability of Bruce Rauner. He spent millions for his hand-picked ‘wing man’ Leslie Munger. Susana will be anything BUT a wing man, and instead will be positioned to bring true scrutiny to this administration’s misplaced priorities.


“As a REAL watchdog of public resources, we are hopeful Susana will ensure that those Illinoisans who need it the most, including people with disabilities, seniors and children, are not put in line behind corporate special interests or Wall Street billionaires.

“But for the budget crisis manufactured entirely by Bruce Rauner, the comptroller’s race would have been a sleepy affair. But in this troubling period, Illinois now has an independent fighter who we are confident will hold the powerful to account.”


congratulationsmendoza1 (002)

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New Hope for Racial Justice in Cook County With Foxx Victory

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley in response to Kim Foxx’s victory as Cook County state’s attorney:

“SEIU Healthcare Illinois, with our membership anchored in Cook County, is proud to have been there from the get-go for Kim Foxx, who represents a new generation of leadership, one that is in position to make great strides for racial justice and criminal justice reform.

“People of color in Cook County have borne the brunt of the failures of the system. It is important to name the problem. It is even more important to provide solutions, and we are sure that Kim will do just that.

“Perhaps most importantly, we are confident that she is going to engage the community and the various stakeholders and lead the healing that is so desperately needed here and now.”


kim foxx congrats

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Duckworth Win for Senate; She Will Listen to ALL Illinoisans

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Tammy Duckworth’s victory for U.S. Senate:

“As the healthcare union that represents caregivers to people with disabilities, it makes us especially proud to welcome Tammy Duckworth as our next U.S. senator. We know Tammy’s work will be much broader and she will be a fierce champion for the economic security of ALL Illinoisans, but having someone who understands the issues particular to our workforce and our consumers is historic.

“Here in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner has thrown the entire system of care for seniors and people with disabilities into disarray. He doesn’t care or doesn’t understand the needs of the people he’s harming with his policies.

“Just the other day, Tammy joined our workers to discuss the various crises, manufactured and ongoing, now confronting our state. It is this willingness to listen to the people in need, rather than just the people at the very top, that we are hopeful will make her a superior senator. Congratulations, Tammy.”


U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., acknowledges applause from the crowd of supporters at the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen's Associations annual state fair Governor's Day brunch on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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