September 2017

Amid Layoffs, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Workers File Unfair Labor Practice Charge

After Closing Head Start Facilities in Chicago, YMCA Reneges on Promise of Severance Pay for Laid-Off Teachers

Chicago: Laid-off YMCA Head Start teachers and teachers’ assistants will hold a press conference outside of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Headquarters at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 28th, to announce the filing of an unfair labor practice charge, alleging that the YMCA retaliated against workers based on their union membership in SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana.

The YMCA closed the First Lutheran and South Chicago Head Start facilities in August, attributing the closures to low enrollment and funding changes. These closures resulted in the displacement of 15 Head Start teachers and support staff. Seven of those employees were placed in different YMCA Head Start facilities but the remaining eight employees have been laid off permanently.

In August, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago notified employees in writing that they would receive two weeks of severance for every year employed by the YMCA. Then, management abruptly told workers that they would not receive any severance pay, because they are union members

 “I have worked with the YMCA for 20 years and I have to fight to receive severance,” said Tuwanna Gonnigan, one of the eight laid-off employees. Gonnigan is one of several impacted employees with over 20 years of service to the YMCA of Metro Chicago. 

On top of this, the YMCA is attempting to leverage the layoffs to force workers into an unfair contract, offering to provide severance to the laid off employees ONLY if SEIU Healthcare forgoes contract negotiations and extends the collective bargaining agreement for the remaining 135 employees, with a far-below-cost-of-living raise.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago states on its website, “We believe that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we all work together to invest in our kids, our health and our neighbors…”  It collects $30 million in membership fees annually on top of $20 million in investment income and pays their CEO Richard Malone an annual salary in excess of $550,000.  The workers being laid off are all women of color, many of whom earned under $15 an hour while working at the YMCA.

What: Press Conference on Unfair Labor Practice Filed Against YMCA, Spanish speaker available

Who: Laid-off YMCA teachers and teachers’ assistants

When: Thursday Sept. 28th, 12:30 PM

Where: Outside of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago Headquarters, 1030 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60607

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We Fought, We Won

For years we have been repeating “When We Fight, We Win.” This statement is absolutely true.

when we fight we win3

 

We have been putting pressure on Governor Rauner all summer long to demand he stand up for child care. We have marched to his mansion in Winnetka, held pop-up preschools and delivered thousands of postcards to his office. Child care providers have spoken to state legislators and alderman in Chicago. On top of this, union members have been working together to defend child care.

All of this was to push back against Governor Rauner’s callous attacks on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) since 2015.

We all remember in 2015 when Governor Rauner slashed CCAP by changing the eligibility for the program- 40,000 children lost care, parents lost their jobs or dropped out of school, and many child care providers cared for those children without pay. When those cuts happened, not even a full-time minimum wage worker could be eligible for CCAP. The program was left in total devastation, but we kept fighting.

Thanks to the pressure we put on Rauner for years, we have finally won. CCAP eligibility has been restored to 185% of the poverty level

Although, restoring eligibility to 185% of the poverty level adds thousands of children back into CCAP- the program is still devastated and deadlines on mandatory training still loom. In April 2017, family child care providers who receive payments from CCAP were notified that they had to complete 21 hours of mandatory training by September 30th. This announcement came after years of cuts to CCAP at the hands of Governor Rauner’s administration. IDHS has implemented these training requirements with no support for providers to complete these hours by the deadline. The trainings have been inaccessible and affordable for many providers. This consequence of these mandatory trainings is nothing short of a backdoor cut on CCAP.

After a long summer we received notification from Secretary Dimas of the Illinois Department of Human Services that they have applied for an extension for the mandatory training. Their notice provided very little detail and only told us that they applied for an extension with the federal government- NOT that they were providing an extension.

The most important take-away from the letter from Dimas was this:

“I want you to know that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has been listening to your feedback, and we hear your concerns. Our decisions to seek the following extensions were based on careful consideration of your feedback and guidance in the context of the current budgetary and operational constraints facing the program.”

This tells us everything we need to know.

OUR ACTIONS ARE WORKING.

We cannot stop though; the administration has never truly acted to defend and expand child care in Illinois. Right now child care providers under CCAP are still facing a looming deadline, relatives have not been exempted from training. On top of all of this- the Governor has made veiled comments that when he cuts the budget, CCAP is on the line. We need to continue to demand that affordable child care is accessible to all Illinois children, and that child care providers and teachers are paid living wages. We can and will win.

When we fight we win!

Sign up here to join the fight for child care for all.

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DEVELOPING: Rauner Administration Commences Illegal Purge of Caregivers for People With Disabilities

HUNDREDS of Workers Sent First Warning of Illegal 3-Strikes-and-Out Penalty

CHICAGO-The Rauner administration has commenced issuing warnings against hundreds, possibly THOUSANDS, of caregivers for people with disabilities who are facing termination under an unlawful “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” system that went into effect Aug. 1st.

The administration began sending the so-called “occurrences” as early as Aug. 31st (see linked document) for personal assistants in the Home Services Program (HSP) who help people with disabilities stay in their homes. Recipients are alleged to have “violated” an arbitrary 45-hour cap on work hours that on Sept. 5th was found to be illegally imposed under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, by an administrative law judge.

Reports on the illegal penalty process have thus far been anecdotal to SEIU Healthcare Illinois through its Member Resources Center and to allies in the disability rights movement in Illinois.

The union for the 28,000 caregivers in HSP has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Rauner administration to confirm the number of so-called “occurrences.”

By purging thousands of workers from the program, people with disabilities will be unable to find care and could be forced into much-costlier nursing institutions. As of last month, almost 4,000 consumers in the program required more than 45 hours of care per week.

The caregivers being purged are the same workforce that earlier this month sued the Rauner administration in Cook County for illegally denying workers a 48-cent-raise that was mandated by the General Assembly in this summer’s bipartisan budget agreement.

Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin:

“The news that the Rauner administration is going forward with its punitive purge of caregivers in the Home Services Program is a disaster for people with disabilities who use their care to live independently in their own homes instead of institutions.

“This is an unjust, illegal and totally destabilizing policy opposed by every single stakeholder in the program. It will permanently damage the workforce in Illinois and will reduce choice and independence for thousands of people with disabilities.

“We call on the Rauner administration to comply with the law, to IMMEDIATELY suspend his illegal “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” program and to shift their process to true dialogue and partnership with stakeholders.”

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Watch Press Conf: Veterans & Jesse Brown VA Hospital Workers Sound the Alarm, Call For Immediate Filling of 49,000 Job Vacancies Nationwide

SEE VIDEO CLIPS OF OUR PRESS CONF BELOWJBrownPresser4

(September 20th, 2017) — SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ President, Greg Kelley, rallied with fellow union leaders with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), veterans and hospital workers at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center today.

Our nation’s veterans deserve access to the highest quality care. But right now there are more than 49,000 vacancies nationwide at the VA. In Chicago at Jesse Brown VA there are an estimated 546 vacancies alone. Our veterans, families and communities are being deprived of the healthcare they’ve earned and prefer.

To raise awareness of the dangerously low staffing levels, AFGE organized a rally to demand the Department of Veterans’ Affairs fill all vacancies immediately.

The coalition called for the passage of legislation, Senate Bill 1723 and House Resolution 3459, to give the VA the resources it needs to fully staff the VA.

JBrownPresser21Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana said, “The larger threat is that these [job] vacancies are pushing veterans into private hospital care and clinics that likely don’t understand the unique health challenges that veterans face. It’s also a step towards privatizing the VA which no one, especially vets, support.

“This hollowing out of the VA workforce and the Trump administration and Congress’ inability to act quickly enough, is undermining one of the core institutions that veterans rely on.”

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Anne Lindgren, AFGE Local 789 President: job Vacancies Are a Crisis For Veterans

Dorothy James, Nat’l VP AFGE: Staff the VA to Keep Our Promise to Our Vets

Walter McKinley, Vietnam Vet: “I get excellent care at VA – Congress, don’t let vets down!”

Reggie Wells, Jesse Brown VA EMS Worker: “Our workforce is stressed out and stretched thin!”

Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare IL: “Vacancies at VA Are Inexcusable, Congress Must Act”

 

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Watch Press Conf: Veterans & Jesse Brown VA Hospital Workers Sound the Alarm, Call For Immediate Filling of 49,000 Job Vacancies Nationwide

SEE VIDEO CLIPS OF OUR PRESS CONF BELOWJBrownPresser4

(September 20th, 2017) — SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ President, Greg Kelley, rallied with fellow union leaders with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), veterans and hospital workers at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center today.

Our nation’s veterans deserve access to the highest quality care. But right now there are more than 49,000 vacancies nationwide at the VA. In Chicago at Jesse Brown VA there are an estimated 546 vacancies alone. Our veterans, families and communities are being deprived of the healthcare they’ve earned and prefer.

To raise awareness of the dangerously low staffing levels, AFGE organized a rally to demand the Department of Veterans’ Affairs fill all vacancies immediately.

The coalition called for the passage of legislation, Senate Bill 1723 and House Resolution 3459, to give the VA the resources it needs to fully staff the VA.

JBrownPresser21Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana said, “The larger threat is that these [job] vacancies are pushing veterans into private hospital care and clinics that likely don’t understand the unique health challenges that veterans face. It’s also a step towards privatizing the VA which no one, especially vets, support.

“This hollowing out of the VA workforce and the Trump administration and Congress’ inability to act quickly enough, is undermining one of the core institutions that veterans rely on.”

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Anne Lindgren, AFGE Local 789 President: job Vacancies Are a Crisis For Veterans

Dorothy James, Nat’l VP AFGE: Staff the VA to Keep Our Promise to Our Vets

Walter McKinley, Vietnam Vet: “I get excellent care at VA – Congress, don’t let vets down!”

Reggie Wells, Jesse Brown VA EMS Worker: “Our workforce is stressed out and stretched thin!”

Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare IL: “Vacancies at VA Are Inexcusable, Congress Must Act”

 

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Christian Care Home Stays Open Thanks to SEIU Members Stepping Up!

chritian care barg teamThe committee immediately postponed bargaining to do whatever was needed to get the facility to pass inspection.

“We gave them suggestions on how the home could do a better job, like updating all of the care plans,” said bargaining team leader Brenda Davis.

With less than a week before the September 1 deadline, CCH still had not received assurances that the state would return for another visit. Management also did not appear to have a plan to appeal the decision.

That is when the power of our union stepped in to fill the void, reaching out to State Representative Cora Faith Walker and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.  Their offices made calls to the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Center for Medicare Services and received commitments from both that a visit would be scheduled before the September 1 deadline.

“That just shows you what kind of power we have in our union,” said Ms. Davis.  “There is no doubt in my mind that the without the union’s intervention, our facility would have closed.”

Christian Care Home passed inspection during the follow up site visit, and member leaders are ready to get back to the bargaining table to fight for what we deserve!

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Rauner Child Care “Restoration” Comes Amid Back-Door Assault on Workforce

CHICAGO-Following is the response of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Brynn Seibert to the breaking news the Rauner administration seeks to restore some eligibility to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) after implementing disastrous cuts in 2015 that have left 30,000 fewer families enrolled:

 

“When Gov. Bruce Rauner first implemented the limits to the Child Care Assistance Program, every expert in the field, including the then-director of the program, predicted disaster. And they were right.

 

“While restoration of the program to pre-Rauner-cuts levels would be welcome, and was part of the promise he made Illinoisans, it cannot be separated from the reality that his administration continues to implement back-door cuts that could lead to almost 15,000 child care providers being purged in the coming months. What good is a restored program if there are no providers to give care?

 

“These back-door cuts sought by the Rauner administration via arbitrary interpretation of new federal training guidelines remain a threat to working families and will fall predominantly on poor women of color.

 

“Illinois may NEVER recover from the damage that Gov. Rauner visited on a successful system of child care built up over the years. But as he faces re-election, we welcome an examination of his record when it comes to the thousands of working parents and children whom he has harmed.”

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WinnetkaMarch2

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SEIU Missouri State Council: “Justice Was Not Served” in Stockley Verdict

ST. LOUIS – The following is a statement from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Missouri State Council President Nancy Cross and State Council Treasurer Lenny Jones:

“This morning, Judge Wilson acquitted former police officer Jason Stockley in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Three years after the killing of Michael Brown sparked days-long protests, Judge Wilson shows that our region has still learned nothing from the sins of the past.

“We have a long way to go in winning racial justice in Missouri. As an organization dedicated to dismantling structural anti-black racism, SEIU recognizes that we cannot separate the fight for racial justice from economic justice.

“Justice was not served for Anthony Lamar Smith. Our prayers are with his family today. SEIU members will continue to fight back against police brutality and will not rest until real justice is attained.”

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September Home Care Membership Meetings in Illinois

Illinois Home Care Members:

Join us at one of our September membership meetings happening across the state! We will discuss updates out of bargaining for DOA home care aides and DORS Personal Assistants, including the raises we won in the state budget, our fight to stop the DHS overtime policy, and efforts to pressure DHS to restore the pay calendar for PAs. Come out to learn more and find out how you can get involved. 

Click here to RSVP. 

Sept HC Member Meetings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: There will be an additional meeting held on Saturday, September 23 at 1 p.m. at the Sterling Public Library, located at 102 W. 3rd Street in Sterling, Illinois. 

 

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Thanks mom, for helping teach me how to collect dues – and so much more!

keith_kelleher

Over the years, many people have asked me: “how did you build the union from only 7 members in 1983, to representing over 90,000 today? How did you organize really low-wage workers like homecare and childcare providers, when no one thought that was possible? How did you do it without dues checkoff, hand collecting dues – did you really do that? How did you learn to do that?”

Most times I would just say that I was trained as a community organizer and a labor organizer by ACORN and ULU (United Labor Unions), and we were trained to collect dues the first day you went out on the doors in our community and labor organizing drives. That’s all true – but I would never tell them who really taught me how to collect dues – my mother!

I recently lost my mom, but I remember this like it was yesterday.

My mother was a child of the depression and World War II, who grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City and in Brooklyn. She got married at age 19 and had 8 kids by the time she was 32!

When i was a kid, my mother was the treasurer of the Holy Name Society in our parish and one of her jobs was to collect the dues from all the women in the parish. So every month or so, my mother and I would load up in our car and drive to the homes of the Holy Name members.

My mother would drive, and I would be the collector – as she pulled up at each person’s house, it would be my job to jump out of the car and run up to the door of the house and collect the money, usually in a church envelope, and then i would run back to the car and write down in her dues book how much each family had given.

If it was in our more middle class neighborhood, almost everyone would have the envelope ready and the right amount of money would be in there, but when we got into the wealthier parts of town, some of them wouldn’t have the right amount or it would be much less than they committed, or they wouldn’t have anything at all!

You should have heard my mother!

“Did Mrs McCarthy give what she promised?

She didn’t?

She only gave some spare change!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Look at the fancy house, look at the fancy cars! Her husband works on Wall Street! That is a sin, that is a mortal sin! I’m going to get Father Walsh to talk with her – she’s got some nerve, with the house and the cars!

Only giving spare change to the church, but then on Sunday they’re sitting right up in front of the Monsignor, with the fancy clothes and the mink! it’s a sin, a mortal sin!”

She would go on and on and, at the time, I would roll my eyes, and pray that the next house would be the last, but then later, I’d tell funny stories – complete with her Brooklyn accent – to my brothers and sisters about what my mother said about the other members of the parish as we collected dues together.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned a lot from her about about accountability, and about justice – that you should pay your dues and your fair share – or there would be hell to pay!

To my parents and many in their generation, the church, like a family or a union, was a “haven in a heartless world.” It was an immigrant church for members who went there not only for spiritual healing and ceremony but for family and social events, for religious education, as well as a little economic help like finding a job, and charity for those who needed it. When we were younger, she would entertain us with stories about how she met my father at a CYO (Catholic youth organization) dance and how they would travel by bus and train throughout Brooklyn to various parishes to dance and socialize with their friends.

Not supporting the parish and the good works they did really was seen as a sin – she wasn’t kidding.

So later, when I decided to be a community and union organizer, she must have infused me with the same zeal that she had as we drove through our town many years before. that’s how I really learned to collect dues.

It was invaluable training for my future as an organizer.

And that’s how i saw it – we had to collect dues because no one was going to fund us to organize poor people into unions. We were organizing the lowest wage homecare and childcare providers in the city – many who were legally classified as “independent contractors” and paid minimum and subminimum wages of only $1, when the federal minimum wage was only $3.35 an hour.

We had to have that same zeal and determination my mother had when we collected church dues together. We didn’t have dues checkoff and not much chance to get formal union recognition, so we collected dues, just like my mother taught me – with a lot of help from my trainers at ACORN and ULU – and we acted like a union, even if we didn’t have formal union recognition.

I remember feeling so good at my very first meeting of the Chicago Homecare Workers’ Union/ULU Local 880 in the basement of the United Methodist Temple in downtown Chicago – there was only a handful of workers there, like 7, and most had joined, paying their $5 joining fee and $5 monthly dues in dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies. Mostly poor, middle-aged black women, unfolding wrinkled dollars from their purses, and digging change out of the bottom; and I and one of our leaders would enter their name in our dues book, give them their membership card and membership button and packet – this scene was repeated thousands of times in church basements, apartments, union halls, and living rooms all over Chicago and the state of Illinois, until we had built enough power to win wage and benefit increases, formal union recognition, union contracts and dues checkoff.

The union has grown from only 7 members in church basements in 1983, to representing over 90,000 workers today, in healthcare, childcare, nursing homes, and hospitals – this despite attacks by right wing organizations contesting the rights of these workers to even have a union.

So today, as we face larger legal attacks on labor like the upcoming “Janus decision,” contesting the right to have a union shop in the public sector – and many other similar attacks on workers’ rights like dues checkoff; i think of what my mother said as we went door-to-door trying to collect dues from wealthy parishioners – “…it’s a sin, a mortal sin!…”

Keith Kelleher is the former president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana Missouri/Kansas(HCIIMK), the Midwest’s largest local union and the 7th largest local of the Service Employees International Union(SEIU). Formed in 2008 by uniting three locals, SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana represents 91,000 healthcare, home care, nursing home and child care workers fighting for higher standards of quality care and quality jobs. Prior to leading SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana, Keith was Head Organizer of SEIU Local 880 where, under his leadership, the local pioneered the organization of home care, child care and other low-wage workers—growing the local from just 7 members in 1983 to over 68,000 members by 2008, and winning living wages and first-ever healthcare benefits for tens of thousands of Illinois workers. Prior to SEIU Local 880, Keith was head organizer of United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 880, which began homecare organizing in Chicago in 1983 and merged with SEIU in 1985. A labor and community organizer and leader for over 37 years, Keith also served as an SEIU International Executive Board Vice-President from June, 2008 – June, 2017.

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