July 2017

Greg Kelley: The caregivers are the ones owed a higher wage

The following op-ed from our union president, Greg Kelley, appeared in the State Journal Register on July 29th.

In a recent online article from WCIA-TV titled “Rauner pays new staff lucrative salaries,” the governor said Illinois citizens “owe” his highly-paid staff “a debt of gratitude.” He’s dead wrong. Gov. Bruce Rauner owes our families a $15 minimum wage. We don’t owe Illinois Policy Institute staffers anything.

The statement proves once again how out of touch Governor Rauner is. The governor has never extended the respect he gives to these corporate-funded operatives to everyday working people.

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I am the president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union that represents more than 85,000 home care, child care, hospital, and nursing home workers in the state. Rauner wants many of our members — those whose work allows our kids to get an education, parents to work, seniors and people with disabilities to live independently, and our hospitals to run — to continue to make poverty wages. I want Gov. Rauner to hear some of the stories our members have shared with me about the urgent need to start raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Tanya Moses is a home care worker from Harvey who makes $10.50 an hour. Tanya suffered two months without electricity because she chose to pay the gas bill instead of the light bill.

Tanya cares about helping people. That’s why she cooks, cleans, and handles medical needs for her 84-year-old client, Lee. That’s why she took in a young pregnant woman who was living in a condemned home a few years ago. The young mom now works a minimum wage job. Tanya knows the $15 minimum wage isn’t just good for her, it’s good for them and her entire community as well.

Photo Credit: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune

Photo Credit: Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune

 

Gail Hamilton, a home care worker from Springfield, faces the same impossible choices. She says every month she has to choose between the light bill, the gas bill, and buying groceries. Gail has never earned enough money to save for retirement. Even though she spends her days caring for seniors, she’s not sure who will care for her later in life.

Ashely Baugher, a home care worker from Southern Illinois, says she lives constantly in fear. She told the Southern Illinoisan: “We are always scared about being kicked out of our house, having our car taken away.”

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Despite 25 years’ experience in the industry and an early childhood education degree, child care center worker Tunja Daniels only makes $10.50 an hour. She struggles to pay her $600-a-month student loan bills.

Tunja

Our workers aren’t the only ones speaking out for a $15 minimum wage in Illinois — so are small business owners. Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, CEO of Addison’s Earth Friendly Products, pays her workers at least $17 an hour. Since raising the pay rate, turnover in the 300-worker firm has been cut in half. David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Northbrook, supports a $15 minimum wage in part because it increases demand in the economy.

SB 81, the bill to steadily raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, is on the governor’s desk. He’s called the bill “extreme.”

What’s really extreme is the governor’s decision to deny hard-working caregivers a raise while simultaneously hiring right-wing ideologues at larger salaries than their predecessors.

— Greg Kelley is the president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

 

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Rauner Lack of Leadership on ACA Repeal Shows Sick Priorities

 

CHICAGO-Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley following the Friday morning failure of the Senate to pass legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act:

 

Even though the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act would harm millions of Illinoisans, Gov. Bruce Rauner was totally absent from every aspect of the debate. His silence was shameful.

 

“Instead of leading, like several other Republican governors around the country who actively petitioned President Trump and the Congress, Rauner gave quiet assent to schemes that would have ended coverage for Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s; stopped treatment for people in communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic; defunded Planned Parenthood, terminating cervical and breast cancer screenings; blown up services for people with disabilities; and drastically cut care for fully HALF of all Illinois children.

 

“What’s more, ANY of the proposed Republican bills would have blown a BILLIONS-dollar hole in the Illinois budget, with no proposed alternative.

 

“There were plenty of reasons for him to weigh in, but during the recent period of debate, Gov. Rauner spent his time spending millions on self-serving television ads, running statewide barnstorms demonizing his political opponents and even defending his new right-wing staff for making comments comparing women’s health services to Nazi eugenics.

 

“Gov. Rauner’s lack of leadership on the ACA repeal shows a set of sick priorities where there’s only ONE Illinois patient he cares about: Himself.”

 

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Rauner’s Neighbors Oppose His Back Door Child Care Cuts 

Child care providers and children who marched to governor’s Winnetka home were met with support

On Tuesday, hundreds of children, parents, and child care providers marched in Winnetka to Rauner’s home to protest his administration’s efforts to undermine child care for 38,000 Illinois children.

Interviews conducted by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times show Rauner’s neighbors oppose the governor’s back door cuts and supported the marchers.

The Tribune talked to Susan Dwyer who said as a working mother herself she understands the needs of parents who must have child care.  Another neighbor, Sarah Ross, called the march “fabulous.” “I think [this march is] great.  It’s an absolute necessity,” said a third neighbor, Norman Rosenstein.

The Sun Times talked to a fourth Rauner neighbor, Katie Scullion. She said: “There are a lot of people in this neighborhood who see tremendous problems with growing inequality. And we need a government that will help address this problem.”

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Marchers were protesting Rauner’s latest attempts to purge children from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  Rauner’s administration is conducting this latest purge under the banner of new federal training requirements that must be completed by Sept. 30th.The administration is requiring these low-income providers to pay for their own training and miss days of work without pay, an impossible hurdle for most. Providers and children face a similar fate as in 2015 when Rauner hastily cut the eligibility requirements that permanently damaged CCAP to the tune of about 40,000 children who lost care.

Diane Macias, a child care provider, spoke to the Tribune about the effect of Rauner’s new policy on providers and the children they serve.  “They opt out, or shut down because they can’t afford to take the time for the training.”

Her mother, Maricarmen Macias, who is also a child care provider told NBC 5:

“Every child care provider that does not comply with those requirements will be kicked out of the program.”

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Rauner’s Neighbors Oppose Back Door Child Care Cuts 

Child care providers and children who marched to governor’s Winnetka home were met with support

On Tuesday, hundreds of children, parents, and child care providers marched in Winnetka to Rauner’s home to protest his administration’s efforts to undermine child care for 38,000 Illinois children.

Interviews conducted by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times show Rauner’s neighbors oppose the governor’s back door cuts and supported the marchers.

The Tribune talked to Susan Dwyer who said as a working mother herself she understands the needs of parents who must have child care.  Another neighbor, Sarah Ross, called the march “fabulous.” “I think [this march is] great.  It’s an absolute necessity,” said a third neighbor, Norman Rosenstein.

The Sun Times talked to a fourth Rauner neighbor, Katie Scullion. She said: “There are a lot of people in this neighborhood who see tremendous problems with growing inequality. And we need a government that will help address this problem.”

WinnetkaMarch8

 

Marchers were protesting Rauner’s latest attempts to purge children from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  Rauner’s administration is conducting this latest purge under the banner of new federal training requirements that must be completed by Sept. 30th.The administration is requiring these low-income providers to pay for their own training and miss days of work without pay, an impossible hurdle for most. Providers and children face a similar fate as in 2015 when Rauner hastily cut the eligibility requirements that permanently damaged CCAP to the tune of about 40,000 children who lost care.

Diane Macias, a child care provider, spoke to the Tribune about the effect of Rauner’s new policy on providers and the children they serve.  “They opt out, or shut down because they can’t afford to take the time for the training.”

Her mother, Maricarmen Macias, who is also a child care provider told NBC 5:

“Every child care provider that does not comply with those requirements will be kicked out of the program.”

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RMC Grievance Victory Wins Back Pay for Members

RMC grievance victory

PCTs Juliet Walker and Stephanie Parker recently won their grievance at Research Medical Center with the help of Steward Demetria Gordon. These members were called off out of order and Demetria was able to win back pay for them for the shift that they were denied due to the error in the call-off practice.

It’s up to us to enforce our contracts and this is a great example of how important our Stewards are to making sure that happens! Great work, Demetria, Juliet, and Stephanie!

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ilin garrison flyer 7-14-17

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SEIU Members at Garrison Unanimously Vote to Send Strike Notice If Necessary

Garrison Strike Vote

The SEIU bargaining team at Garrison has put up a strong fight at the negotiations table, but management clearly has no respect for the work frontline workers do day in and day out. Their insulting proposals, which include no raises for three years and the ability to pay less than the IMG_3564minimum wage, left workers with no choice but to take steps to move toward a strike.

Garrison SEIU members voted unanimously to authorize a strike if a fair agreement cannot be reached at the bargaining table. Stay tuned for next steps!

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St. Louis SEIU Members Help Launch ‘Save the Raise’ Campaign with Community Allies

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SEIU Healthcare nursing home worker Alexis Straughter.

On August 28, the Missouri preemption law that Governor Greitens signed will go into effect, nullifying the St. Louis minimum wage increase and lowering the minimum wage in the city from its current $10/hr. back to $7.70/hr.

In response, SEIU Healthcare members teamed up with other low-wage St. Louis workers, responsible business owners, and supportive local lawmakers to launch our ‘Save the Raise’ campaign!

Our goal is to convince as many St. Louis employers as possible to continue paying workers a minimum wage of $10/hr., as called for in the law that passed in 2015.

We held a huge press conference to announce our launch and got the attention of media both in Missouri and at the national level. Nursing home worker Alexis Straughter spoke passionately about the difference this raise has made for workers.

“One of my coworkers has been employed for 19 years and she was at $8.40/hr. before the increase. She cried tears of joy when it happened, now they want to rip it away,” explained Straughter.

Saving the raise isn’t just the right thing to do for working people, it’s the smart move for business that want lower turnover, improved morale, and a Southwest Diner 2stronger local economy. Many employers recognize that and have already committed to continuing to pay workers $10/hr. after August 28.

We refuse to back down while Jefferson City politicians are rigging the system against us. This minimum wage increase helps us put food on the table, gas in our cars, and do more for our families. That’s worth fighting for! Get involved today by talking to your organizer.

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Hundreds of children march on Governor Rauner’s multi-million dollar home as child care crisis looms.

To protest threat of massive purge, 700 children and providers marched on Rauner’s Winnetka estate.

WinnetkaMarch2

 

Nearly 700 children and child care providers marched on Governor Rauner’s mansion in Winnetka, Illinois, to protest backdoor cuts to the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

CCAP for working parents is facing a NEW crisis as the Rauner administration presses forward in coming weeks with new provider requirements that appear specifically to target black and Latino caregivers and which could disrupt or terminate care to 38,000 children in the program.

The latest Rauner purge is being conducted under the banner of new federal training requirements that must be completed by Sept. 30th.The administration is requiring these low-income providers to pay for their own training and miss days of work without pay, an impossible hurdle for most. Providers and children face a similar fate as in 2015 when Rauner hastily cut the eligibility requirements that permanently damaged CCAP to the tune of about 40,000 children who lost care.

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Children, child care providers, and families came from all over the Chicago area, and even Kankakee, to protest these backdoor cuts. They marched from Hubbard Woods Park to Governor Rauner’s mansion to protest the governor’s administration’s treatment of child care providers and CCAP.

 

 

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DORS Personal Assistants & MHH Workers Win Raises in Illinois Budget

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Following the devastating two-year budget impasse, the Illinois General Assembly finally approved a new state budget after voting to override Governor Rauner’s veto.

So much damage has already been done, but we are finally getting our state back on track. Our union continues to negotiate with the Rauner administration over a new contract, and at the bargaining table the governor is still demanding a wage freeze. But, the General Assembly took action to ensure caregivers for people with disabilities got an increase this fiscal year while we bargain.

Personal Assistants and MHH workers have a lot to celebrate in this budget and it’s thanks to the tireless work of our members and allies throughout the impasse that we have this victory:

  • We won raises for Personal Assistants & MHH workers!
    The state budget includes a $0.48/hr. raise for all PAs and MHH workers effective August 5, 2017. We are currently in talks with the State to determine when the raise will be reflected in paychecks and we will share that information as soon as we have it.

These raises are a big step forward toward winning $15/hr., but we have more work to do! Our fight to stop Governor Rauner’s terrible overtime policy continues and we are keeping the pressure on at the bargaining table too.

If you have any questions about our raises, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348.

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