May 2017

IL Nursing Home Workers Ratify Historic Three-Year Contract

97% of Workers Voted in favor of contract that increases wages, provides safer staffing levels

Agreement comes as 5,000 caregivers were prepared to wage largest nursing home strike in U.S. history

CHICAGO –  Nursing home workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois voted by 97 percent to ratify the terms of a three-year contract with the 103 nursing homes represented by Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.

The new contract reflects significant improvements for workers, including:

  • Significant wage increases, with an average increase of 27% over three years. The lowest-wage workers are receiving a 30 to 50 percent increase, with many going from $8.70 to $13.10 over the three-year contract period. This means nursing home workers will be able to provide for their families while taking care of residents.
  • Greater accountability for safe staffing standards in order to provide quality of care for residents.
  • 40% increase in employer pension contribution
  • Expansion of workers’ rights and on-the-job protections.

“Nursing home workers give our hearts and time to peoples’ loved ones every day – feeding them, bathing them, and keeping them company,” said Kenya Baker, a certified nursing assistant at All American Nursing Home.  “We make sure residents live with dignity when their families put them in our care. For too long, our wages and working conditions didn’t reflect the value of our work and a lot of us struggled to stay in our homes and keep our own families fed.  This contract brings much needed peace of mind to us and resident care will improve because of it.”

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SEIU Healthcare placed a priority on lifting up the wages of the lowest paid nursing home workers covered by the contract—many of whom had gone without a raise for three years—and establishing an equitable pay structure among different nursing homes. The nursing home owners had asked for the right to pay workers below the minimum wage in the future and had made a practice of offering new hires higher wages than existing employees in the same job title when they had difficulty recruiting new staff.

“This victory has been transformative for the workers,“ said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “They came together and united across race, ethnicity and geography, and through that solidarity, they won”.

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The contract comes as the nation finds itself in the middle of a crisis of care. More than 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day, and by 2050 the number of people over 85 is expected to triple. But even as the need for experienced caregivers spikes to unprecedented levels, vacancies in nursing home positions have increased and staff turnover for nursing assistants exceeds 50 percent per year.

“Nursing home workers perform vital services while driving a billion-dollar industry that is rapidly growing along with our aging population,” said Kelley. “We must invest in making nursing home jobs good jobs and ensuring everyone has access to quality long-term care.”

The contract is retroactive to May 1, 2017 and runs through April 30, 2020.

 

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BREAKING: House Human Services Committee Approves HB 1424, Advancing Efforts to Protect 36,000 Seniors from Governor Rauner’s Drastic Home Care Cuts

(SPRINGFIELD) – The following is a statement on behalf of Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans and SEIU Healthcare Illinois in response to the Illinois House Human Services Committee vote (7-4) advancing House Bill 1424:

“We applaud the members of the House Human Services Committee who voted today to advance House Bill 1424, which would shield 36,000 elderly Illinoisans from Governor Rauner’s attempts to gut the Community Care Program with a $120 million cut, drastically reducing services for tens of thousands of seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid.

“HB 1424 will ensure that the successful Community Care Program continues to exist to keep aging Illinoisans in their homes as long as possible, preventing premature and costly relocation into nursing homes. This bill will protect Illinois seniors and Illinois taxpayers by preserving the delivery of high quality services for those who need it most at a fraction of the cost of nursing home care.

“We call on the General Assembly to swiftly pass this legislation and we call on Governor Rauner to abandon his misguided and dangerous attacks on our seniors.”

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Missouri Workers Call on Governor Greitens to Stand with St. Louis Working Families by Vetoing House Bill 1194

MO Min WageST. LOUIS – Following is the statement of Robert Brown, a St. Louis nursing home worker of ten years who still earns below $10/hour and SEIU Healthcare Missouri member, reacting to news that HB 1194 passed the General Assembly and is now headed to Governor Greitens’ desk. This bill seeks to nullify the St. Louis minimum wage increase for 69,000 workers:

“Today we watched out-of-touch state lawmakers continue their war on Missouri workers by passing HB 1194, ripping away a modest minimum wage increase for tens of thousands of St. Louis workers. With implementation of the $10/hour St. Louis minimum wage already under way, it’s up to the Governor now to stand with the hard-working families struggling in poverty — or the big donors and lobbyists he promised to stand against on the campaign trail. This isn’t a game — this is my life.

“We call on Governor Greitens to veto HB 1194 upon arrival to his desk and, once and for all, end attempts to strip workers of this raise, which provides the promise of a brighter future with more money in our pockets to support our families.”

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Introduction of HB 1424/SB 399 Aims to Protect 36,000 Vulnerable Illinois Seniors from Governor Rauner’s Drastic Cuts to Home Care Services

Advocates Warn of Disastrous Consequences for Health & Safety of Elderly if State Lawmakers Don’t Stop Rauner Proposal

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Dan Biss and State Representative Anna Moeller joined AARP Illinois, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Caring Across Generations, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois on Wednesday to announce introduction of House Bill 1424/Senate Bill 399. These bills would protect the 36,000 Illinois seniors whom Bruce Rauner is targeting with a $120 million cut, slashing vital services they count on to remain healthy and safe in their homes.

In a proposal submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the Rauner Administration plans to gut the Community Care Program and move 36,000 vulnerable seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid into an unproven and complicated new program called the Community Reinvestment Program. This new program contains no guarantees that seniors will receive all the services they need and allows the Department nearly unlimited authority to make unilateral cuts at any time, creating an unreliable and unstable delivery of critical services.

“I am here today to deliver a message to Governor Rauner: we are fed up with his attacks on senior citizens,” said Barbara Franklin, President of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. “That is why we are standing with our allies today in support House Bill 1424 to ensure that Community Care Program continues to keep elderly Illinoisans in their homes as long as possible. Every senior deserves to receive the full care that they need.”

The Rauner Administration claims the Community Reinvestment Program is necessary to curb the state’s spending on home care for elderly Illinoisans. However, if seniors are denied services or experience service cuts, institutionalization will increase. For every senior who is forced into a nursing home, the state could end up paying $15,600 or more annually than it would pay for that senior to remain in the Community Care Program receiving services.

“Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease to care for in our country and 220,000 Illinois residents are currently living with this devastating disease, many of whom rely on a strong Community Care Program to keep them in their homes as long as possible,” said Andrew Kretschmar, Senior Manager of Advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Chapter Network. “At a time when Illinoisans fighting Alzheimer’s are looking to Springfield to shield critical services from partisan differences, the exact opposite is happening. The Governor’s proposed cut to their services would force thousands of our loved ones with dementia to seek premature and more costly nursing home care.”

House Bill 1424/Senate Bill 399 will ensure that the Community Care Program continues to exist to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible, preventing premature and costly institutionalization. It will also codify eligibility via the Determination of Need (DON) score, setting it at 29 and shielding our most vulnerable residents from partisan budgetary differences.

“Protecting the ability for seniors to live with dignity and independence in their homes must be a priority for Governor Rauner, the legislature, and our state,” Lori Hendren, Associate State Director for AARP Illinois said.  “The legislation safeguards the Community Care Program, ensures those who are eligible continue to receive critical in-home care and services, and will prevent unnecessary and premature nursing home placement of seniors across our state.”

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MOTHERS DAY RALLY AND WREATH LAYING TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE FOR ILLINOIS WOMEN AND CHILDREN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Thursday, May 11, 2017

THURSDAY, May 11, 5 p.m.; Corner of Wabash and Wacker (Across from Chicago Trump Tower)

Rep. Schakowsky, Pres. Preckwinkle, 6th CD Roskam Foes & Allies Fight AGAINST TrumpCare, Medicaid Cuts

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CHICAGO-Heading into Mothers Day weekend, hundreds of women and their allies, including U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, will rally at 5 p.m., TODAY, May 11 across from Chicago’s Trump Tower to save health care for women and children following last week’s disastrous House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid.

Participants will include potential opponents of U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, who reneged on his promise to preserve coverage for pre-existing conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer in voting to strip tens of thousands of Illinois women and children of their coverage.

The Mothers Day rally will focus on how TrumpCare impacts prenatal care, maternity care, care for sexual assault survivors and senior care. Fully HALF of all child births and HALF of all children in Illinois receive coverage from the state-federal Medicaid partnership, which would be devastated by an $880 billion cut under TrumpCare schemes. Gov. Bruce Rauner, who will receive a $6.6 million tax BREAK under TrumpCare, was silent on the massive cuts to health care leading up to last week’s vote. Rauner is seeking his own massive cuts to care in Illinois via a $120 million cut to the successful Community Care Program for low-income seniors.

Participants Thursday include Women’s March on Chicago, Citizen Action/Illinois, the Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Indivisible Illinois, Friends who March, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action and Chicago Women Take Action.

The rally will be followed by a wreath laying in the Chicago River nearby.

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WHAT: Mothers Day Rally & Wreath Laying to Save Health Care for Illinois Women & Children

WHO: Rep. Jan Schakowsky; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; Potential Peter Roskam challengers; Planned Parenthood Illinois Action Board Member Donna Miller; SEIU Healthcare Illinois V.P. Jaquie Algee

WHEN: 5 p.m., TODAY, Thursday, May 11

WHERE: Corner of Wacker & Wabash (Across from Chicago Trump Tower)

 

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Victory at the Bargaining Table

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Strike Averted As Nursing Home Workers Reach Tentative Agreement With Nursing Home Owners

5,000 caregivers put themselves on the line for good jobs and quality care

As nursing home workers and owners reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, released the following statement:

Nursing home workers across Illinois have won a major victory. Workers had gone more than two years without a wage increase and over two years without a new contract. After two years of bargaining, these dedicated, compassionate caregivers have come to a contract agreement with the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.

This victory is a result of our members’ strength and unity in the face of unfair labor practices. We were prepared to strike because we believe in quality care and good jobs. We also believe in justice. Nursing home workers of all backgrounds – white, black, and brown, native-born and immigrant, in urban and rural areas – stood strong together to win a life-changing contract.

And we are not alone. Nursing home residents, their families, elected officials, and community allies were ready to stand with us to say enough is enough. These same allies will help us build a long term care system that works for all Illinois families.

Through this contract, the owners and management groups at the 103 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities recognize SEIU Healthcare Illinois members as skilled, dedicated, and valued employees who provide quality care.

Nursing home workers won important improvements, including:

  • Significant wage increases. This means nursing home workers will be able to provide for their families while taking care of others. These increases won in this agreement will reduce staff turnover and make sure workers can provide for their families.
  • Improvements to hold nursing home owners accountable for quality care.
  • Firmed up protections for immigrant workers.

A bargaining committee of 80 members, representing the broad range of nursing home workers, voted overwhelmingly to support this agreement with owners. A vote will be held in coming weeks for workers at large to ratify this agreement.  If ratified, it will be effective from May 1, 2017 to April 30 of 2020.

Nursing home workers do some of the most important work there is, caring for and caring about our aging loved ones and family members with disabilities. They help our mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, and loved ones who are no longer capable of living independently continue to live with dignity and receive the quality care they need and deserve.

Everyone should have access to the care services they need so they can live with dignity. And no one should be paid poverty wages and forced to work in unfair or unsafe conditions to provide care. We will continue to fight for all working families in our state and build stronger, healthier communities.

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BREAKING: Millions of Illinoisans at Risk After ACA Repeal Vote; Costly and Deadly Disaster as Gov. Rauner, Illinois GOP Putting Medicaid Under Knife

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley following the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

“The repeal of the Affordable Care Act represents a costly and deadly disaster for Illinois, especially the nearly 3 million who receive care through Medicaid, including half of all our children.

“The replacement legislation is entirely insufficient to meet the healthcare needs of seniors, children and people with disabilities, not to mention those Illinoisans with a pre-existing condition whose lives are now in the hands of greedy insurance executives.

“The new provisions to allow states like Illinois to waive Medicaid requirements will IMMEDIATELY place whole classes of people at risk and will erode the system of care in Illinois.

“Meriting special notice are Republicans such as Reps. Peter Roskam, Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger and others who made representations to their constituents that they would protect health care for Illinois and instead sided with corporations and the super wealthy. Likewise, Gov. Bruce Rauner, who himself has made millions via Medicaid and Medicare dollars over the years, failed to speak out against this shameful vote.

“Whether it’s their blind contempt for former President Obama or their belief that money should predict health, Republicans today showed Illinois that their priorities are sick.”

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BREAKING: STRIKE AVERTED AS NURSING HOME WORKERS REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT WITH NURSING HOME OWNERS

5,000 Caregivers Had Prepared to Go on Strike for Good Jobs and Quality Care

Victory4_580Nursing home workers have reached a tentative agreement with nursing home owners for a three-year contract, averting the largest nursing home strike in history.

Through this contract, the owners and management teams at the 103 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities recognize 10,000 SEIU Healthcare Illinois members as skilled, dedicated, and irreplaceable employees who provide quality care.

Nursing home workers won important improvements, including:

  • Significant wage increases. This means nursing home workers will be able to provide for their families while taking care of others.
  • Staffing provisions to help reduce turnover and increase the quality of care for residents.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois will provide a full statement on the tentative agreement later today.

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Nursing Home Strike Locations

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