Leading senior advocates and the union representing 25,000 home care aides in the Community Care Program left out of Task Force after public criticism of Rauner plan to ration care
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner’s scheme to cut 36,000 Illinois seniors from the vastly successful Community Care Program (CRP) by forcing them into an untested and unproven initiative, the so-called Community Reinvestment Program, was met with intense public outcry from day one. SEIU Healthcare Illinois and numerous aging advocates were outspoken against the Governor’s plan and it appears are now being PURPOSELY left out of the Community Care Program Services Task Force, mandated to look into ways to improve services for seniors.
Rauner’s dangerous privatization scheme is still being pursued through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) as Rauner refuses to withdraw the rules-despite state lawmakers approving a bipartisan budget that provides NO funding for the controversial program.
The Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Caring Across Generations, and Health & Medicine Policy Research Group release the following statement, responding to key stakeholders being left out of the CCP Services Task Force:
“Shutting out the key stakeholders from a task force created in a bipartisan fashion to examine ways to improve the function of the Community Care Program must be considered a slap in the face by the Rauner administration to the vulnerable seniors who rely on the program to remain in their homes, the workers hired by these seniors to deliver the vital services and the legislators from both parties who wish to see this vastly successful program thrive.
“Shutting these stakeholders out of the task force seems more like a political vendetta than a commitment to finding real solutions for Illinois seniors.
“Positions on the task force were clearly laid out by state lawmakers with the intention of creating space for organizations with a mission to advocate on behalf of those who stand to be impacted. The Department on Aging instead chose to exclude those organizations after they expressed opposition to the so-called Community Reinvestment Program, resulting in state lawmakers refusing to fund the questionable proposal in the approved state budget.
“While we are disappointed in the Department on Aging’s actions, our coalition remains committed to protecting Illinois seniors and caregivers in the Community Care Program and stands ready to partner with task force members to find responsible solutions to meeting the needs of aging Illinoisans so they can remain living independently in their homes.”
Our monthly membership meetings for home care workers are just around the corner! Mark your calendar for the meeting in your area and RSVP here to let us know you’ll be there.
We’ve got a lot to talk about – from the raises we won in the state budget to bargaining updates for Personal Assistants and home care aides.
Hope to see you there!
SEIU members across the city of St. Louis have turned up the pressure in recent weeks in hopes of convincing employers to do the right thing and maintain the $10/hour city minimum wage increase, which lawmakers and Governor Greitens are set to rip away from tens of thousands of workers on August 28.
City-wide sticker days have raised the visibility of the campaign in our shops, while the over 100 local businesses that have pledged to save the raise is keeping this issue alive across our community.
In addition to sticker days, workers have circulated petitions and marched on management to deliver them and make sure our message got through.
Time is running out and we must keep the pressure on. If you work in St. Louis talk to your steward about how you can get involved in the fight to Save the Raise today!
On August 8, dozens of signature-gathering volunteers and working people with the Raise Up Missouri Coalition, joined by Representative Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City), kicked off a major grassroots campaign to raise Missouri’s minimum wage that would impact hundreds of thousands of the state’s residents. Since politicians have prohibited municipalities like Kansas City and St. Louis from raising the minimum wage, working people are taking their efforts statewide so that every working family in Missouri will have an easier time putting food on the table.
The statewide initiative, which would appear on the November 2018 ballot, would raise the minimum wage to $8.60 in 2019 and rise 85 cents each year after that, capping at $12 in 2023. The wage would then continue to rise with the cost of living. More than 500,000, or 1 in 5 working Missourians, will see their wages rise by the time the raise is fully implemented, and nearly a million, or 1 in 3 working Missourians, will see a benefit from spillover effects. While the cost of living keeps going up, wages have not kept pace. Raising the minimum wage for working families offers them the opportunity to take home more on their paychecks to spend in their communities, strengthening the state’s economy for everyone.
SEIU Healthcare Missouri member Cherie Brown, a CNA at Highland Nursing Home in Kansas City, spoke out passionately at the event:
I’m so happy to be here today to speak about an issue that is so important to me and tens of thousands of fellow healthcare workers across Missouri. That issue is raising our state minimum wage!
Here in Kansas City, workers have been fighting to raise the wage for years. We want to do more for our children and we want the respect that our work deserves.
I’ve been at my nursing home for 6 years now and it has been a constant struggle to support my family. Cost of living has gone up – rent, utilities, food, gas, healthcare, you name it – these necessities cost more than they used to.
And yet, here in Missouri, workers haven’t seen increases to the minimum wage to keep up with the rising costs of the basic things we need. That’s why I support raising the state minimum wage to $12/hour.
The governor has promised a lot of things to workers, one of them being more good jobs. But the governor signed a pre-emption law that takes away the voice of voters in cities across the state. That’s why it’s critical that we put this statewide minimum wage increase on the ballot for voters to decide themselves.
This initiative will give a raise to nearly half a million workers and will have a positive impact on 1 million. I’m one of those workers who will be positively impacted. It took me six years, but I finally earn $12.30/hour. I know that if we can win this increase and raise the floor, it will help raise the ceiling for those of us already earning $12/hour. By putting more money in the pockets of low wage workers, we can jumpstart our economy and lift families out of poverty.
$12/hour won’t solve all of our problems and no one will get rich off of this increase, but it will mean more food on the table, bills paid on time, and a brighter future for hundreds of thousands of Missouri families.
Our fight for $15 and union rights for all workers will continue, and this campaign is a huge step forward toward that goal. I know and believe in my heart we will win – when working people stick together we can do amazing things. I look forward to putting this issue on the ballot for voters and then celebrating its passage in 2018!
Rauner’s Once Again Pushing the Child Care Assistance Program Toward Crisis
CHICAGO (Aug. 4)–SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union that represents nearly 20,000 child care providers, filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois today for failure to make agreed upon payments into the union training center that provides trainings required by the state.
The union has been fighting the state’s attempts at backdoor cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) in the form of mandatory training requirements. The training requirements must be completed by all child care providers who care for children under CCAP by the federal deadline of September 30th – which could lead to thousands of providers and children being purged from CCAP. IDHS has not provided the support, resources, or time for providers to complete these mandatory trainings by the September 30 deadline.
SEIU Healthcare Illinois charges that the state has failed to make payments into the Child Care Training Fund in accordance with a settlement agreement from October 2016. This Child Care Training Fund enabled SEIU’s Member Education and Training Center to provide the mandatory training for hundreds of child care providers.
Child Care provider and SEIU member Maricarmen Macias said, “We could be providing hundreds more trainings if the state would make its payments. We aren’t complaining about the content of the trainings but the state is making it too hard to get trained. This is an insult.”
Update as of August 17 for Personal Assistants regarding pay dates: Our union believes that you should expect payment on Aug. 28 as indicated on the State’s new payroll schedule. We are still working to get pay dates changed back to the regular schedule, but we have not received any information from the State about this. We will keep you posted if there is any updated information regarding the pay dates, and you can view the new DHS new pay calendar for the Home Services Program here.
ICYMI: Here’s a recap of our August 2 telephone town hall meeting for Personal Assistants and Maintenance Home Health Workers
Pay Date Changes: BREAKING NEWS – While we are continuing to fight DHS’s announcement to change the paydays, the Illinois Comptroller’s office has confirmed that PAs will get paid Friday, August 4th, on time with the original payroll calendar.
There’s been a lot of confusion regarding the payroll schedule changes made by DORS. DORS has been informing PAs that the schedule change was due to an agreement made by our union. However, that’s not exactly correct. Some of you may know that our union filed a grievance against the State because they were not giving PAs 5 business days after the pay period to submit their time sheets. During the course of our communication with the State in working through the grievance, the State said that it will allow PAs 5 business day, but that the pay dates would have to change. It was not our union’s intention to change the pay dates. Our intention was only to preserve the 5 business days our PAs have a right to as stated in the contract.
We have made every effort to communicate this to the State and to explain that their changing the pay dates is unnecessary and harmful to PAs. We believe that the State has the ability to process time sheets on time and still allow PAs 5 business days to submit them. The State has had this process for over a decade, why are they eager to change it now? There are other priorities the State should focus on and changing pay dates is not one of them.
We are still fighting to get the future payroll dates reversed, but this is a big victory for PAs who will now receive their pay checks on time Friday, August 4.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Raises in the State Budget: We won raises in the state budget that was approved on July 7 when state lawmakers successfully overrode the Governor’s veto. All Personal Assistants and Maintenance Home Health workers will receive this increase, which is $.48/hr. This means that the wage for Personal Assistants will be $13.48/hr starting August 5, 2017.
We are currently awaiting a response from the state about when workers will see this increase reflected in their paychecks and we will let everyone know as soon as we hear.
These raises were hard-fought and would not have been possible without the hard work of our members, people with disabilities, and our allies who have kept the pressure on in Springfield during the two-year impasse. No one just decided to give us raises out of the goodness of their hearts – we had to fight hard to win this increase. By going to Springfield and meeting with lawmakers, speaking out in our communities, and telling our stories to the media we were able to convince the General Assembly to include an increase for caregivers in the Home Services Program.
We are still bargaining with the State over a new contract, and Governor Rauner continues to demand that we accept a wage freeze. The Illinois General Assembly knew that and wanted to make sure we got a raise while we continue to bargain over our new contract.
These raises are so important because PAs and MHH workers have not seen an increase since December 2014. Home care work is hard and is incredibly important to tens of thousands of people with disabilities across our state. When we invest in home care jobs, that helps caregivers stay in the industry.
While we have more work to do to win $15/hour, this raise of $.48/hour does get us one step closer to that $15.
Revenue in the State Budget: The General Assembly’s budget included a small increase in the state income tax. While no one gets excited about paying more in taxes, this revenue is so important to the future of our state and the future of home care programs. Without revenue, we cannot fund the vital services that Illinoisans need. This tax increase will go directly to backlogged payments for social service providers that have been struggling for the last two years to keep their doors open during Bruce Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis. It’s estimated that one million people in Illinois lost critical services during this time and we can finally get our state back on track and restore the safety net for our most vulnerable.
As a union, we know that this income tax increase isn’t a perfect solution. If we had it our way, the richest people in Illinois would pay their fair share in taxes and we would close corporate tax loopholes that rob us of revenue. But, until we can win a fair tax in Illinois, the income tax increase will provide some much-needed revenue to fund the programs and services our communities need.
Contract Negotiations: We are still in negotiations with the State over a new contract. While our old contract expired in 2015, we have extended that contract while we bargain so we have all of the same rights, benefits, and protections under our collective bargaining agreement until we reach a deal.
Our next negotiations session with the State is on August 21 and we will show up ready to make progress. We are continuing to fight to protect our health insurance and training, and win a raise to $15/hour so all Personal Assistants earn a living wage.
DHS Overtime Policy: Governor Rauner’s terrible DHS overtime policy took effect Tuesday, August 1. Despite outcry from people with disabilities, caregivers, and advocates, the State moved forward with their flawed policy and the cap on hours for PAs started August 1.
This harmful policy caps hours at 45 hours per week for Personal Assistants and takes consumer choice away by forcing people with disabilities to hire additional caregivers so the state doesn’t have to pay PAs overtime. There are some exceptions to the policy, but consumers must apply for those exceptions as soon as possible. Click here to find the overtime exceptions forms.
The State is saying that they are capping PA hours at 45 hours per week, and there needs to be an approved exception in order to work more than 45 hours per week.
First off, the hours need to be approved in the Consumer’s service plan- this has always been the case, that part is not new.
Now for calculating overtime, the week runs from Sunday through Saturday. In order to see if you are within the State’s overtime cap, you need to count your hours beginning on Sunday, and ending on Saturday. You can work up to 45 hours no problem- and you’ll be paid time and half- that’s $19.50/ hour for your hours above 40 hours- but the State is saying your Consumer needs approval in order for you to work more than 45 hours in the week- again, with the week starting on Sunday and ending on Saturday.
It’s important to note that this is different than how you tabulate your hours on time sheets, since the time sheets are from the 1st of the month through the 15th and the 16th thru the last day of the month- that’s not based on Sunday through Saturday. For overtime purposes, you need to count your hours starting on Sunday, and ending on Saturday though.
Our union, along with disability advocates, have fought this policy from day one and have successfully delayed it for over a year and a half. Unfortunately, we ran out of ways to continue the delays and that is why the governor was able to move forward and implement his policy.
Because Personal Assistants are in our union, it is illegal for the state to implement this policy without bargaining with us. We filed charges against the State with the labor board and are still awaiting a decision on those charges. Once the judge decides, and if they rule in our favor, we will seek an immediate injunction to stop enforcement of the overtime policy. As of now, we don’t know when we will get the decision though and have to wait and see.
In addition to legal pressure, we are also keeping the pressure on publicly. On Tuesday, August 1, we teamed up with Access Living and ADAPT in Chicago and held a huge action at the DHS office to speak out against the overtime policy and demand that Governor Rauner withdraw it before the health and safety of our consumers is put at risk.
While we rallied and chanted outside, a delegation of consumers and PAs went inside to deliver our demands. Our voices were heard and we cannot let up – we must keep taking action against this terrible policy every chance we get. See photos from the action here, and watch the news clips below.
Upcoming Membership Meetings in Central/Southern Illinois:
Saturday, August 26
Upcoming Membership Meetings in Northern Illinois:
Saturday, August 26
Saturday, September 16
Save the Date Chicago Members: Labor Day is Monday, September 4 and our union will have an exciting day of action followed by a picnic. More details will be coming soon, but save the date and plan to spend the day with your union brothers and sisters in Chicago!