St. Louis – The following statement was released by Laquita Bowers, an SEIU Healthcare Missouri member and CNA of 12 years at Garrison Care Center, in response to the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the St. Louis minimum wage hike, clearing the path for an increase to $11/hour by 2018:
“This is truly a great day for workers and their families in St. Louis. For years, we’ve been fighting alongside community and business leaders from across the city to give working families a real boost in take-home pay, and to jump-start our local economy.
“My coworkers and I work tirelessly serving seniors and people with disabilities in nursing homes across St. Louis. As cost of living has increased, we watched our wages stagnate and our families fall further and further behind. For us, this news means a brighter future for our children and more money in our pockets to boost the local economy. I’m so proud of all the workers who made this happen.”
Our sisters and brothers of AFSCME Council 31 announced today they had voted OVERWHELMINGLY to authorize withholding their labor to help force Gov. Bruce Rauner to come to his senses and bargain for a fair contract. Our own child care and home healthcare workers have been without a collective bargaining agreement since July 1 of 2015, so we stand in solidarity with their efforts. Below is their statement:
In the first-ever strike authorization vote in Illinois state government, an 81 percent majority of the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 have voted to give their union bargaining committee the authority to call a strike.
The vote comes after Governor Bruce Rauner broke off negotiations with the union more than a year ago and has refused to even meet with the AFSCME bargaining committee ever since.
“We have come to this juncture for one reason only: The refusal of Governor Rauner to negotiate with our union,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.
Instead of working toward compromise, Governor Rauner has been seeking the power to unilaterally impose his own extreme demands, including a 100% hike in employee costs for health care that would take $10,000 out of the pocket of the average state worker, a four-year wage freeze and an end to safeguards against irresponsible privatization.
“Bruce Rauner may think he can dictate, not negotiate, but this vote shows that AFSCME members are determined to stand up for basic fairness,” Lynch said.
“I voted YES to authorize a strike because my family needs health care we can afford, because my community needs public services it can rely on, and because Governor Rauner needs to come back to the bargaining table,” said Stephen Mittons, a child protective investigator in the Illinois Department of Human Services in Chicago.
“As public service workers we are willing to do our part, but it can’t be Governor Rauner’s way or nothing at all,” said Nicole Power, an Illinois Department of Revenue employee in Springfield. “I can’t understand Bruce Rauner’s stubborn refusal to negotiate. He has to be willing to meet us in the middle.”
“We live in our communities, we care about our communities and we serve our communities,” said Steve Howerter, a counselor at Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton. “We understand the situation the state is in money-wise, because we are taxpayers too. And so we are willing to do our part, but what we’re not willing to do is give up our voice.”
AFSCME Council 31 represents some 38,000 Illinois state employees who protect kids, care for veterans and the disabled, respond to emergencies, help struggling families and much more.
The vote to authorize the union bargaining committee to call a strike does not necessarily mean that there will be a strike. The bargaining committee will meet in the coming days to chart its path, and pending litigation could also play a role.
“State workers don’t want to strike. We are keenly aware of the importance of the public services we provide, and we are willing to compromise,” AFSCME director Lynch said. “But if Governor Rauner continues to refuse his legal obligation to bargain in good faith, he risks a strike that would shut down state government, and he alone bears responsibility for the harm a strike would cause.”
The St. Louis municipal primary election is slated for Tuesday, March 7, and SEIU members have the opportunity to shape the future of our city by getting out to the polls and casting our votes for the candidates that stand with us.
Candidates for mayor, city comptroller, and several aldermanic seats will be on the ballot.
Here are the candidates that our union has endorsed because they’ve committed their support to the campaigns and issues that will improve the lives of home care, nursing home, and hospital workers.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri Endorsed Candidates:
Mayor – Tishaura Jones
Comptroller – Darlene Green
Ward 1 – Sharon Tyus
Ward 5 – Tamika Hubbard
Ward 9 – Dan Guenther
Ward 11 – Sarah Wood Martin
Ward 13 – Beth Murphy
Ward 15 – Megan Green
Ward 17 – Joe Diekemper
Ward 19 – Marlene Davis
Ward 25 – Shane Cohn
These candidates will work to address the core issues that are holding our city back: poverty and lack of economic opportunity. We endorsed these candidates not only because of their commitment to addressing the high rates of poverty in St. Louis, but also because of their desire to find solutions through a racial equity lens.
The polls are open on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. Make a plan to vote and make your vote count by supporting the candidates that stand with working families.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Dr. Jay Shannon, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, along with healthcare and hospital workers from SEIU Local 73 and SEIU Healthcare Illinois held a joint press conference and rally outside Stroger Hospital with signs that say, “Congress: what’s your plan for healthcare?”
Check out TV coverage from Tuesday’s event, which included stories from WGN, WTTW, CLTV, NBC, & Fox — as well as this incredible Chicago Sun-Times editorial defending Obamacare.
WGN: Preckwinkle, SEIU Hospital Workers Press Congress: #WhatsYourPlan for Healthcare?
WTTW Chicago Tonight: Preckwinkle, SEIU Rally to Protect Obamacare
CLTV Politics Tonight: Preckwinkle, SEIU Rally to Protect Obamacare (5:30pm)
CLTV: Preckwinkle, SEIU Hospital Workers Ask Congress #WhatsYourPlan for Healthcare? (8:30pm)
NBC Chicago: Preckwinkle, SEIU Rally to Protect ACA; Asking Congress #WhatsYourPlan for Healthcare?
Fox Chicago: Previews Preckwinkle ACA Press Conf; Congress #WhatsYourPlan for Healthcare
The following statement is by Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas:
On behalf of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas, I give my unqualified and enthusiastic support for Keith Ellison as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. SEIU HCII is the largest union in the Midwest—representing over 90,000 healthcare and childcare workers across four states—and our members have long been active on the grassroots level in movements to raise the minimum wage, to lift up the fact that Black Lives DO Matter, and to pass immigration reform.
These are issues that matter not just to our membership and not just to the Midwest, but to a majority of Americans.
Keith Ellison is the right leader at the right time to turn this tide and to reengage a majority of Americans in the issues that matter the most. He has a track record of not just reaching voters, but of winning elections through grassroots voter registration, education and mobilization—which is what we need now more than ever.
In Minnesota, Keith has an impressive history of working closely with the state party to boost turnout, helping to elect candidates from city council to the statehouse and the Governor’s mansion. His organizing work has reached far beyond Minnesota, and in the last election cycle, Keith traveled to nearly 30 states campaigning for candidates up and down the ballot including nine states for Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Keith’s electoral success is fueled by his deep relationships with national grassroots leaders and his demonstrated ability to speak to and excite the Democratic base across the country. Keith dramatically increased voter turnout in his own Fifth Congressional District from the lowest level in Minnesota when he was elected in 2006 to the highest level in the state today. In fact, his district was the only Congressional District in the state in which voter turnout actually grew between 2010 and 2014. His organizing has helped to keep Minnesota blue—with Republicans not winning a statewide race since 2006.
Keith’s ability to engage voters on the issues that matter to them—including increasing the minimum wage and fighting for racial and immigration justice—and turn that engagement into voter turnout makes him not just the ideal choice, but the only choice, for DNC chair given our recent losses and the fights we face ahead. His ability to maintain and increase voter turnout would have made the difference in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia in this last election, and have resulted in Hillary Clinton as President.
This next election cycle, members of SEIU HCII, and working families across the country need Keith Ellison as the chair of the DNC.
Our Executive VP, Greg Kelley, spoke to a joint committee of the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board on the harm of repealing the Affordable Care Act today. Below are his remarks.
Good morning. To Commissioner Gainer, Alderman O’Connor, Alderman Pawar and other distinguished guests, I am honored to speak to you about the devastating impact that repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will have on our healthcare delivery services and residents of Cook County.
Our union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, represents tens of thousands of workers in healthcare field. We witness on a daily basis the benefits that the ACA has brought to our communities and the impact of improving healthcare options for residents.
Prior to the ACA, tens of thousands of residents had no option for healthcare other than a nearby emergency room, a costly option for the patient and taxpayers alike. The ACA has allowed emergency rooms to be utilized more for real emergencies rather than caring for patients who had to use the ER as their primary care option.
Prior to the ACA, people with pre-existing diseases had no hope for care. Many adult children living with their parents went uninsured. Now they can be on their parent’s plan through age 26.
What a blessing.
Here are some more facts from very reliable sources that should give us pause:
Repeal of the ACA will cause 1.1 million Illinois residents to lose insurance coverage. Where will they go? Many of them will go right back to those emergency rooms for primary care. Our members are at the forefront of access to care in this county. Story after story of a patient coming to get care after decades of no care due to no insurance. They are seeing people at the beginning of a illness instead of a deathbed. Instead of issuing bills and payment notices our members are enrolling patients in county care and ObamaCare.
Repeal of the ACA will cost Illinois healthcare providers $2.7 billion in income in 2019 and hit safety-net providers especially hard. Large corporate hospitals have not been opening clinics to service underserved communities like they should. Safety net hospitals like St Bernard, Roseland and Loretto and Mt. Sinai, where many of our Members work and which already operate on shoe string budgets, ARE servicing those communities.
To make matters worse, loss of Medicaid expansion revenue coupled with the elimination of Medicaid supplemental payments that subsidize hospitals that care for a disproportionate share of Medicaid and uninsured patients will cause some safety-net hospitals to reduce services or close altogether. This would dramatically reduce access to care in vulnerable communities and may cause needless suffering and death.
The Republican plan to repeal the ACA will cost Illinois $33.4 billion in federal funding and $2 billion in state and local tax revenue between 2019 and 2023.
Let me take a moment for a side note since I mentioned revenue. I would hope that today when Gov. Rauner gives his budget address, that he will not only finally put forth a sensible budget that funds vital services, but that he will also speak loudly against those Republicans in Congress who want to destroy the ACA – a program that brings in billions of dollars to our struggling state economy.
There is so much more I could say regarding the senseless attacks on the ACA by Republicans, but I’ll end with this: It is estimated that repeal of the ACA will cause 24,000 additional deaths nationwide annually. It’s great if we want to work to improve on what we have in the ACA, but it makes no sense to unravel a healthcare program that is saving lives.
The question I ask to Republicans in Congress and Governor Rauner is, where are your priorities?
Thank you to Commissioner Gainer, Alderman Pawar, and others for the opportunity to testify before you all today. We look forward to working with you all to protect the healthcare we have fought so hard for.
The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher in response to Governor Bruce Rauner’s Illinois Budget Address on February 15, 2017:
“As our state sinks deeper into an abyss of financial purgatory, Governor Rauner once again has failed to fulfill a governor’s primary duty – to show leadership.
“That duty of leadership requires the Governor to present a balanced budget once a year for consideration by state legislators. We are entering an unprecedented third fiscal year without a budget and the third year in which Rauner has failed to perform his duty.
“While he casts blame at everyone but himself, the State of Illinois has become the laughing stock of the nation. Meanwhile, the Governor uses his wealth to hold the budget and members of his own party hostage.
“Rauner’s ‘Turnaround Agenda’ has put social services out of business, closed child care facilities, put parents out of work, and forced colleges to lay off professors and downsize their student population, with the result that some colleges have come close to having to close their doors.
“Rauner says he wants to work with legislators to craft a budget. That process begins with the Governor presenting one that is balanced.
“The people of Illinois have had enough. Governor: Do your job.”
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