Gov. Rauner Must Stand Up to GOP Persecution of Immigrants; HB 3099 Deserves Support
CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Greg Kelley in response to threats to sanctuary status for Chicago by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the wake of a shooting early Monday during an immigration raid.
“Illinois is an immigrant state and is in greater danger than ever with the Donald Trump presidency, where we see the vicious bigotry of his campaign transformed into the vicious bigotry of his administration.
“The comments today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatening billions of dollars in aid to already-cash-strapped Chicago because of its commitment to providing sanctuary for immigrants and refugees are despicable and should be condemned by Gov. Bruce Rauner. And while it is still too soon to know what happened during the Immigration and Customs Enforcement shooting this morning in Chicago, we DO know that the Trump administration is eager to scapegoat migrants in a manner unworthy of our nation’s and our state’s history.
“In both the campaign phase of Donald Trump’s attack on immigrants and now during his presidency, Bruce Rauner has sat largely silent while the fuel has been piled. He and Republican leaders need to speak out now before irreversible damage is done.
“House Bill 3099, which would make all of Illinois a sanctuary for migrants and refugees and build trust with local law enforcement, is an important step in standing up to a persecution led by the Trump administration that is unmooring our nation from its values, destroying families and stoking the flames of hatred and fear that divide us.
“Our union stands in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, who make immeasurable economic and civic contributions to the State of Illinois. It’s time for Bruce Rauner to stand up for them as well.”
Despite Northwestern’s billions of dollars in financial assets and revenue, management offered a disgusting level of raises of .25 cents an hour and wants to continue to pay poverty level wages to new hires. Northwestern needs to respect our union and recognize that OUR WORK MATTERS!
Northwestern Hospital Workers “March on the Boss” to Deliver $15 Balloons to Demand a Fair Contract
St. Louis nursing home worker Robert Brown recently traveled to Jefferson City to testify against the Missouri General Assembly’s efforts to diminish local control and eliminate the St. Louis minimum wage increase. Read his moving testimony below.
My name is Robert Brown and I have been a Housekeeper in a St. Louis nursing home for ten years now. I work hard to ensure that our residents have a safe and clean environment to live in, and I do it with a smile on my face day in and day out.
Some days it is hard to keep that smile on my face though. After ten years of service, I earn only $9/hour. I still cannot afford to rent an apartment, so I have rented a room for several years in a boarding house. I constantly have to make difficult decisions because of the low wage that I earn – do I buy groceries or do I put gas in my car so I can get to work? There are no easy answers and there are tens of thousands of workers in Missouri that are in the same position as me.
When news broke that the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the minimum wage increase in St. Louis, I was overwhelmed with hope and took a small sigh of relief in knowing that soon I would earn $10/hour and that it would ease the burden a little. And then to think that starting in 2018 I would earn $11/hour – these stood to be the two largest raises that I ever received in my life.
No one is going to get rich off of these increases, and it’s certainly not going to solve all of the problems that low wage workers like me face – but, that extra dollar an hour will be money that I will invest right back into our local economy. It will mean I can buy food and gas, not food or gas. It will mean that I can afford the trip to Reavis Barracks Cemetery to visit my mother’s grave. Maybe I can even start to save a little bit here and there so when life happens – things like an unexpected vehicle repair or if my microwave breaks – it won’t be a catastrophe for me financially like it is now.
I’m here today to say to our state lawmakers, please don’t pull the rug out from under workers like me. Instead of talking about ways to undercut local initiatives to raise the minimum wage, we should be talking about a statewide minimum wage increase to lift up all Missourians.
People who get up and go to work each day shouldn’t have to struggle so hard to survive, and this minimum wage increase will go a long way for those of us in St. Louis. Please do the right thing for Missouri workers and stop efforts to eliminate the St. Louis minimum wage increase. Thank you for your time and for hearing my testimony on this important issue.
Update as of Thursday, July 6, 2017
DHS has announced that they intend to implement their overtime policy on August 1, 2017, which will cap hours at 45 hours per week with some exceptions.
Our union is continuing the fight against this terrible policy, along with our allies in the disability community, but we encourage Personal Assistants who work with a consumer who requires more than 45 hours per week under their care plan to begin the process of applying for exceptions under the policy.
We are still awaiting a decision from a judge on the Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge that our union filed against the State because they refused to bargain with us about the overtime policy. We hope the judge will rule in our favor, and we intend to use the judge’s decision to force the State back to the bargaining table with us and prevent them from implementing their cap on hours starting August 1.
Until the decision is released though, it’s important that consumers who need their Personal Assistant to work more than 45 hours per week under their care plan immediately begin the process of applying for exceptions.
We will keep you posted on further developments.
Update as of Wednesday, March 15, 2017
On Tuesday, March 14, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), voted on Bruce Rauner’s terrible overtime policy. It was a split vote along party lines – 6 democrats opposed the overtime policy and 6 republicans supported it. We needed two republicans to side with us to stop the policy, and despite intense public outcry, republicans refused to cross Governor Rauner and delivered their votes for him instead.
We packed the room with people with disabilities, personal assistants, and advocates so that republican lawmakers saw the faces of those who would be hurt by their vote. Immediately following the vote, we held a press conference where we denounced the policy and then marched to Governor Rauner’s office to express our opposition to the Governor’s terrible overtime cap policy. Read our joint statement that we released with Access Living here about the vote.
While we are disappointed with JCAR’s vote yesterday, our fight for a fair overtime policy is not over.
We have worked tirelessly for the last 16 months with disability advocates to stop Bruce Rauner’s terrible overtime rules and thanks to our efforts we do see a somewhat improved policy today, with higher caps and wider exceptions. However, there are still over 3,000 people with disabilities who are at risk under the overtime rules, and we will continue to fight for the rights of those consumers and their PAs.
We are awaiting a decision from the Illinois Labor Relations Board on our Unfair Labor Practice charge against the State for illegally implementing this overtime policy without bargaining with our union. We are also exploring other legal challenges to stop this harmful policy.
Finally, we are introducing legislation in the General Assembly that would bar the State from implementing an hours cap less than 55 hours per week, and would provide an even wider set of exceptions that consumers can apply for (House Bill 3376). If that bill is passed out of the General Assembly with veto-proof majorities, that may also be a viable option to stop this overtime policy.
However, DHS said they intend to implement the overtime rules which cap hours at 45 hours per week for personal assistants starting August 1, 2017. This means that for now, personal assistants may continue to work all the hours in your consumer’s service plan and get paid overtime pay of $19.50/ hour for all hours worked above 40 hours/week.
The policy does contain exceptions that consumers will be able to apply for in order for their PAs to work hours above the 45 hour per week cap. As soon as we receive information and instructions on how to apply for those exceptions, we will share it out widely with personal assistants.
As always, we will continue to share out updates as soon as possible with our members.
Stay tuned, and stay committed to this fight – it is NOT over.
Update as of Tuesday, August 9, 2016
We are pleased to also announce that we now have confirmation that all past disciplinary occurrences related to the overtime policy will be rescinded.
Again, all disciplinary occurrences that were given out to Personal Assistants due to the overtime policy are being rescinded effective immediately.
This is huge news because as we reported last week, over 2,000 PAs had received disciplinary occurrences since May 1, and this will mean those occurrences will be removed.
We will keep you posted on further updates as we receive them. We still have to fight to ensure the state doesn’t attempt to implement the same terrible policy through the rules-making process, but for now this is something to celebrate.
UPDATE as of 12:00 PM Wednesday August 3, 2016
We have BREAKING NEWS to share with you regarding the State’s disastrous overtime policy. 2,000 PAs faced termination as early as next week under the state’s unfair policy and our union was ready to file a lawsuit today demanding the State rescind the policy immediately.
This is a huge victory, but it is a temporary victory.
The Rauner administration’s 11th-hour backtracking is an acknowledgement that they broke the law by capping hours for Personal Assistants. However, the State still plans to move forward with formally submitting the overtime rules, which allows for public comment and concerns from the disability community and from PAs. This means that we must continue fighting for a fair policy for people with disabilities and PAs.
For now, Personal Assistants who have overtime hours can work them without fear of disciplinary occurrences.
UPDATE as of Friday, April 29, 2016
Despite our union’s good-faith efforts to reach a fair agreement on overtime, the State pulled a bait-and-switch, insisting that any agreement on overtime must be contingent on us agreeing to a 4-year wage freeze for Personal Assistants.
This is not acceptable, and we are escalating our fight for $15 for Personal Assistants, and to protect our healthcare & training and get a fair overtime policy.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE OVERTIME HOURS
Consumers and PAs need to prepare for the State to start implementing their terrible overtime policy on May 1st and we strongly encourage those with consumers who may be eligible for an exception to this policy to apply for it with DHS immediately. Your consumer can apply by submitting an Overtime Qualification Form to their local DORS office.
If your consumer is not approved for an exception, the State is saying that you can no longer work more than 40 hours per week or else you may face discipline. If your consumer has been unable to find additional Personal Assistants to take their hours over 40, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to report it, so we can keep track of how the State’s policy is harming people with disabilities and workers.
If you are in the situation where you have worked 40 hours and there is no backup Personal Assistant to work the rest of the hours, the State is saying that you may be disciplined and even terminated if you work over 40 hours. The State is saying 3 strikes and you’re out under their policy, unless the overtime is approved. This is exactly why their policy is so unfair and we are fighting it so hard.
If you are a PA who is in this situation, and if you choose to work your overtime hours, here is what we advise:
1) Fill out an affidavit and have your consumer sign it certifying that your Consumer’s health and safety is at risk if they don’t receive all of their hours and turn it in with your time sheet. Click here to view and print the affidavit in English, and here to view and print the affidavit in Spanish.
2) Fill out an Overtime Justification Form and turn it in with your time sheet. That form is located here. Be sure to include on the form that your consumer is looking for additional PAs but has been unable to find any so far.
3) You should also call the head of the Home Services Program, Vivian Anderson, at this number: (855) 673-2005 and tell her your situation and that the State should stop this unfair overtime policy.
4) Lastly, our union will represent you and we will fight any unjust discipline from the State over this terrible policy. You can report any issues around discipline relating to the Overtime Policy to our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348.
UPDATE as of Thursday, April 7, 2016
The State has sent out letters to Personal Assistants and DORS consumers with notice of plans to implement their Overtime Policy starting May 1, 2016. The letter states that our union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, agreed to this implementation date – this is not true and our union has not agreed to May 1 implementation.
We are continuing to fight for and demand a fair Overtime Policy that protects Personal Assistants and people with disabilities.
Until the end of April, Personal Assistants can continue to work current hours and will be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in one week. However, it is important for all DORS Personal Assistants to be aware that the State continues to threaten to implement its overtime cap beginning May 1st. Therefore, if your DORS consumer is eligible for an exception to the State’s Overtime Policy, they should apply for that exception right away.
If your consumer will be put at risk of institutionalization or other harm due to this policy, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to report it.
You can take action to stop the Overtime Policy by dialing 888-864-8950. You will hear a recorded message and then have the option to be connected to Governor Rauner’s office to tell him to stop the DORS Overtime Policy because it will hurt people with disabilities and Personal Assistants.
UPDATE as of Monday, February 29, 2016
We are happy to report that the State has agreed to delay their planned March 1, 2016 implementation of the DORS Overtime Policy.
We do not know how long this delay will last. However, together with our disability rights allies, our union will continue to fight against the State’s misguided overtime policy because it is harmful to people with disabilities and Personal Assistants.
Because we have a union, the state is required to bargain with us over this issue. Thanks to our rights as union members, we have successfully delayed implementation of this bad policy.
Here is what this means for Personal Assistants:
Along with our allies in the disability rights movement, we are exploring legal challenges to the State’s policy and will share new updates as we receive them.
UPDATE as of December 29, 2015
We have an important update to share regarding overtime hours for DORS workers in the Home Services Program.
Many caregivers received letters from the Home Services Program that said you were not allowed to work more than 40 hours a week starting in 2016 – even if your consumer has over 40 hours.
We want to let you know that due to the hard work of our union, advocates for people with disabilities, and dozens of DORS workers who shared personal stories, the Home Services Program has agreed to wait to implement any changes until after our union and the State are done bargaining about the Overtime Rules during our current contract negotiations. This means that for now you can continue to work your normal hours even if they go over 40 hours per week and you will get paid time and a half for hours over 40.
NOTE: We are awaiting clarity as to whether or not overtime forms need to be filled out. As soon as we receive an update, we will share it widely.
This is an important victory for DORS workers and consumers! Because we have a union, we will have a voice in how the State moves forward with new federal overtime protections for home care workers.
UPDATE as of December 9, 2015
About two years ago the US Dept. of Labor (DOL) issued new rules covering home care workers in regards to overtime pay and travel pay. This was a huge move by the Obama administration because it stood to affect over 2 million home care workers nationwide. Previously, DORS Personal Assistants and MHH professionals were not eligible for overtime pay or for travel pay, but these new rules mean all DORS caregivers are covered just like agency home care workers starting January 1, 2016.
Recently, DORS mailed out plans for their implementation of this new policy, without negotiating the terms with our union as we requested multiple times. Their plans would place an undue hardship on home care consumers and workers and we oppose these plans as a result.
Our union is working with the disability rights community to push for continued, strong consumer-direction; meaning home care consumers should have control over who they hire and how many workers they want to hire. The State should not override consumer rights because they want to avoid paying overtime to workers.
Here is what our union has proposed to the State:
We will update all Personal Assistants and MHH professionals with new information as we have it. In the meantime, feel free to call the Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 with any further questions or concerns you may have.
SPRINGFIELD—This week, Senator Daniel Biss joined Representative Chris Welch and multiple advocates of long-term care recipients for a press conference announcing crucial legislation addressing the pressing problems of improper discharges and of woefully insufficient facility staffing levels.
Their solution—SB 1624 and HB 3392—would protect the growing number of long-term care residents currently being abandoned in hospital psychiatric units and provide the necessary penalties to enforce legally-required staffing levels, saving lives and greatly enhancing quality of life for long-term care residents.
Multiple speakers stressed that the new legislation simply enforces the staffing levels set in 2010 by leveling penalties against short-staffing facilities equal to the amount of wages they are “saving” by failing to staff at required levels.
“What we now know today is that many nursing homes simply are not following the law, and are threatening the safety of seniors and people with disabilities by understaffing the nursing homes,” said State Senator Daniel Biss. “It’s unacceptable and today – it ends.
“Illinois leads the nation in the improper discharge of long-term care residents – in many instances, abandoning seniors with Alzheimer’s and individuals with disabilities to hospital psychiatric units,” said State Representative Chris Welch.
Licensed practical nurse, Tabetha Oster, gave a caregiver’s perspective of the short staffing that’s prevalent at over a third of Illinois nursing homes, and which contributes to the practice of involuntary discharge. She noted that “it’s not uncommon for CNAs to be responsible for 15 or more residents each and for LPNs to be responsible for 30 or more.” When contrasted with the 3.8 hours of daily direct care per resident mandated by landmark Illinois legislation passed in 2010, she said, the gap is startling. “Illinois nursing homes are shorting residents out of over 9 million hours of care.”
Andrew Kretschmar, Senior Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Network spoke to the role the bill would play for people afflicted with the disease. “For over a year the Alzheimer’s Association has advocated for this legislation because we know this law will stop the unfair treatment of people with Alzheimer’s in Illinois. Between 2011 and 2015, the number of nursing home beds in the state of Illinois decreased by 7%, in that same time the number of complaints of improper discharges leading to hospital abandonment increased 158%. The math just doesn’t add up. Some of these facilities are self-reporting understaffing upwards of 50% – certainly the care of residents in those facilities is suffering. Today we’re doing something about it. If passed, these bills will change the lives of thousands of Illinoisans living with Alzheimer’s residing in long-term care settings.”
Samantha Olds-Frey, Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans discussed the need for the bill at a time of state budget crisis. “Savings will be generated by this policy by decreasing unnecessary and medically inappropriate hospitalizations. Hospitalizations, by the way, that cost roughly seven times the cost of an average nursing home stay.”
Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Jamie Freschi, shared background on the issue of improper discharge. “Eviction/Discharge complaints, including ‘hospital dumps,’ received by the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program have more than doubled since 2011 and are by far the number one complaint investigated by Illinois Ombudsmen. Senate Bill 1624 and House Bill 3392 provide long overdue penalties for improper discharges and tighten loop holes that currently allow facilities to circumvent the rules making it far too easy for facilities to abandon vulnerable residents in locations where their needs cannot be met.
Jerry Rabbe, whose mother was discharged without advanced warning from a nursing facility especially designed for patients with Alzheimer’s, spoke to both the personal and financial cost of the practice. “My mother was moved from one home to the next as if she were cattle,” he said. “Over the course of two years, my Mom saw the inside of five assisted living and nursing home facilities, and the inside of the St. Johns Hospital psych-unit. As she was a recipient of Medicaid, I can’t imagine what this cost the State of Illinois.
Thousands of People with Disabilities and Caregivers Face Uncertain Future under Inflexible Policy that Undermines Consumer Control & Federal Overtime Laws
Springfield – In a vote along party lines, republican members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted to approve Governor Bruce Rauner’s DHS Overtime Policy. Over the last year, people with disabilities, their caregivers, and advocates have warned about the devastating affects this misguided policy would have on the lives of consumers and workers in the DHS Home Services Program (HSP). Despite the outcry from stakeholders, Bruce Rauner and DHS refused to meet with those impacted and instead stayed the course to implement their rules.
Following is statement on behalf of Access Living, the Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois in response to the JCAR vote:
“Today, thousands of people with disabilities and personal assistants in the DHS Home Services Program were abandoned by republican JCAR members. Hundreds of phone calls, emails, and personal letters were submitted to JCAR prior to their vote highlighting the problems with this policy. Instead of heeding the warnings, republican JCAR members voted to undermine the strength of the Home Services Program and the independence of people with disabilities.
“No one won today with this unfortunate vote – not people with disabilities, not personal assistants, and certainly not Illinois taxpayers. The minor cost-savings projected from this misguided policy will be completely negated if only 182 individuals with disabilities are forced into more costly nursing home care as a result, stripping them of their dignity and independence and leaving Illinois taxpayers to foot the bill.
“Our coalition vows to continue the fight against this terrible policy and our commitment to reaching a fair agreement that will protect the health and safety of people with disabilities remains.”
St. Louis – The following is a statement from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Missouri/Kansas State Council Director Jake Olson:
“Tonight’s extremely tight results in the race for mayor surprised those who had written off this contest weeks ago. But it didn’t surprise the janitors, home care and healthcare workers, higher education faculty, and public sector workers of SEIU, who poured countless hours of work into Treasurer Tishaura Jones’ campaign and proudly supported her vision for a better St. Louis.
“Tonight’s results show there is a hunger for a true progressive agenda for St. Louis, one that raises wages for working people, values black lives, and makes our city fairer for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
“Thank you to Treasurer Jones for lifting up a powerful message of economic and racial justice for St. Louis, and congratulations to Alderman Lyda Krewson on her victory this evening.”
(Tuesday, March 7th, 2017) — Northwestern Hospital workers organized a massive delegation to deliver a large petition board, signed by hundreds of employees, to Dean Manheimer, the Senior Vice-President of Human Resources at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
In addition, nearly 400 hundred Northwestern workers posed with rally signs to create a massive display showcasing our power and demands for “Affordable Healthcare Now” and a starting wage of $15 an hour and 15% across the board increases!
In 2015 NMH reported $9.7 billion in total financial assets, and $4.4 billion in revenue. But despite NMH’s enormous financial success, the wealth has not trickled down to our pay checks. As workers head back to negotiate our contract we’re showing our strength at the bargaining table!
Child Care providers to offer forward-looking vision for working women while also fighting back against War on Women by Rauner, Trump, and the Republicans
Chicago, IL -Chicago, IL – In the spirit of International Women’s Day, local community and labor organizations will hold a 7 p.m. indoor rally at the Chicago Teacher’s Union Hall, on Wednesday, March 8, to celebrate those who have been leading the fight for women’s rights.
Among the featured speakers for the event is Faith Arnold, a veteran child care provider from Chicago and a SEIU Healthcare Illinois member. Arnold is also a leader in the Bright Futures Chicago campaign, a movement of parents and providers calling for free universal child care for working mothers and their families. Arnold will also speak to the need to boost the pay of childcare providers, 95% of which are women. She’ll also outline the War on Women that Bruce Rauner, Donald Trump, and Republicans in Congress have been waging.
WHO: Women. Workers. Labor & Community Organizations. Faith leaders. Families. Children.
WHAT: International Women’s Day Rally in Solidarity with Women’s Struggles All Over the World featuring speakers, singers, dancers, poets, dj.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 8, 2017; 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Chicago Teacher’s Union Hall, 1901 W. Carroll Ave.
WHY: To celebrate International Women’s Day, build a new women’s movement and to continue the fight against the oppression of women