Update as of Tuesday, September 12, 2017
We got an important breakthrough this week in our fight against Governor Rauner’s terrible DHS Overtime Policy for Personal Assistants. As you may recall, we filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against the state for refusing to bargain with us over the policy. This week, an administrative law judge ruled that the State broke the law by illegally implementing the overtime policy without bargaining with our union, and also ruled that PAs impacted by the illegal policy are eligible for back pay plus interest.
Based on the judge’s ruling, we will now seek an injunction against the State to force them to rescind this terrible policy again, and have any occurrences that have been issued rescinded as well. We are still exploring exactly how to obtain backpay for PAs that were impacted with our legal team so stay tuned for updates on that.
This is an important step forward in stopping this policy, but the fight is not over. Rauner can still appeal the judge’s decision and until the court grants an injunction the policy will remain in effect. This means that PAs are still under a 45 hour cap each week, and those who work over that amount of hours will receive occurrences from the State. We do not know how long it will take to get an injunction but we are moving quickly to get everything filed.
Right now we need to identify Personal Assistants who have received occurrences since August 1 for continuing to work overtime hours who are willing to speak with our legal team to provide affidavits to file our injunction. If you have received an occurrence since August 1, 2017, and are willing to help, please click here and complete the form with all of your information.
Our union has fought this horrible overtime policy for almost two years now, since November 2015. We have stood strong with our allies in the disability community and successfully delayed the implementation of the policy, and then when implemented in 2016 we were able to force the state to rescind it and all of the occurrences were rescinded as well. We will not stop fighting to stop the Overtime Policy, just like we will keep up the fight to restore PA pay dates and force the State to release the raises we won in the state budget.
We know this has been an incredible struggle for our members and we are happy to deliver this good news today. If we keep sticking together we can win for caregivers and the people with disabilities that we serve.
Esta semana, un juez de derecho administrativo dictaminó que el Estado infringió la ley al implementar ilegalmente la política de horas extras sin antes negociar con nuestro sindicato y, también dictaminó que los APs afectados por esta política ilegal son elegibles de pagos atrasados, más intereses.
Vamos a solicitar un mandato para que el estado rescinda esta política. Sin embargo, hasta que esto ocurra, el límite estatal de 45 horas por semana sigue vigente y el Estado continuara registrando incidentes a los APs que trabajan más de 45 horas por semana sin tener una excepción aprobada.
Nuestra lucha no ha terminado, pronto estaremos en contacto con más actualizaciones.
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.
Win for Consumers and Workers Amid Ongoing Struggle; Back Pay Ordered
SPRINGFIELD-An administrative law judge has ruled that the Rauner administration violated state labor law when last year it unilaterally imposed limits on overtime care in a state program to provide home healthcare for people with disabilities.
The Sept. 5 ruling found that the administration illegally implemented a cap on overtime hours of home care workers without first bargaining with SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union for some 28,000 workers in the Home Services Program (HSP) who care for thousands of people with disabilities. The judge also ordered back pay for these workers, subject to a process administered by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, writing that, “…the overtime policy is a mandatory subject of bargaining and the (s)tate violated the (a)ct when it implemented the same without first bargaining…”
The judge further found that the Rauner administration acted illegally when it proceeded to implement its overtime-cap policy via the administrative rulemaking process, instead of bargaining with the home care workers’ union.
The Administrative Law Judge’s decision remains open to appeal to the full Illinois Labor Relations Board.
Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin:
“The harm caused by the Rauner Administration’s overtime policy is continuing as consumers are not receiving the hours of care they need and providers are being disciplined for doing nothing more than helping to protect the health and safety of the people for whom they care. We call on the Rauner Administration to follow the judge’s ruling and immediately rescind its illegal policy.
“The ruling is an opportunity for the Rauner administration to abandon both an overtime policy that is harming workers and consumers in the vastly-successful Home Services Program and the “my-way-or-the-highway” posture that is harming taxpayers along with them.
“The go-it-alone ways of the Rauner administration, found to be in violation of state law, are part of a pattern of excluding longtime stakeholders in a program that has saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars and kept countless Illinoisans in their homes, instead of costlier nursing facilities.
”Whether it is denying these same home care providers a 48-cent raise mandated by the General Assembly, illegally implementing an overtime policy denying care to thousands, or refusing to work in good faith with home care consumers and groups representing people with disabilities, the administration shows itself more interested in a piece-by-piece dismantling of a vital program for Illinoisans seeking independence than with working with stakeholders to build on a successful system of care that already saves Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“It doesn’t have to be like this.
“Going forward, we encourage the state to work with us to discuss what would be a sensible overtime policy that respects the care for people who deserve to retain their independence and remain in their homes with dignity and respects the work of the providers who provide that care.”
Read a copy of the judge’s ruling here.
Says Key Rep. as Rauner Admin. Defies Law;
State Journal-Register, Chicago Tribune on Class Action by SEIU Healthcare Illinois
CHICAGO-The 48-cent raise for some 28,000 caregivers in a state program for people with disabilities included in summer’s bipartisan budget agreement “wasn’t a suggestion,” said Rep. Greg Harris, who wrote the law and was quoted in today’s State Journal-Register in a story about a class-action lawsuit filed last week in Cook County to compel the Rauner administration to comply.
You can read it here.
The Rauner administration is making the claim that it isn’t obligated to pay the state’s poorest workforce its raise because of a collective bargaining agreement. In fact, SEIU Healthcare Illinois agreed to the raise, mooting the administration claim.
As SEIU Healthcare Illinois vice president Terri Harkin said in last week’s Chicago Tribune:
“The law is clear: the state is required to implement statutory minimum labor standards — such as minimum wage. … The state is then required to bargain with the union for any increases above the minimum standard by statute. Neither the Labor Act nor the SEIU collective bargaining agreement presents an obstacle to the immediate implementation of the raise required by the statute.”
You can read the Tribune story here.
The raise came about with the home care workforce in Illinois in crisis because of low pay that harms consumers because of high turnover and limited choices as they seek to remain in their homes, instead of much-costlier nursing facilities.
You can read a copy of the lawsuit here.
Garrison SEIU members recently settled a new contract with management after tense negotiations. Workers were ready to do whatever it would take to win the contract they deserved, voting unanimously to authorize a strike if needed.
In the end, workers won!
When we stand together, we win! Great work, Garrison members!
SEIU members at Mary Ryder Home just wrapped up bargaining over their new agreement and won significant improvements. Workers stuck together and took action to win – circulating petitions and even delivering black roses to management.
Employees who were impacted by the St. Louis minimum wage increase will keep that $10/hour, despite the fact that the minimum wage law was rescinded on August 28. In addition, those who did not receive an increase from the minimum wage will get a 2% raise.
Mary Ryder management insisted on striking our union security clause from the contract, emboldened by the passage of Right to Work earlier this year. Workers stood strong to protect our union rights, and upon filing of signatures in Jefferson City to delay RTW and allow voters the opportunity to have a say on the 2018 ballot, management finally relented.
Congratulations to our SEIU members at Mary Ryder Home!
(September 4th, 2017 – LABOR DAY) — Hospital workers at Research and Menorah Medical Centers rallied for a fair contract that raises wages and calls for better staffing as part of a national day of action to demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to join a union.
Fast food workers at STAND UP KC went on strike today and joined hospital workers at Research Medical Center in solidarity in a series of rallies across the city.
Check out some of the amazing press from the Labor Day rallies:
Kansas City CH 5: Labor Day: Research & Menorah Hospital Workers Fight for Better Staffing & Wages
Kansas City Fox CH 4: On Labor Day Fast Food Workers & Hospital Workers Fight for $15 and a Union!
“Dot” Morgan, a unit secretary at Research, spoke at the rally.
“I’ve seen the union difference in my time here at the hospital and every worker in this nation deserves the right to have a voice on the job!
“No matter what industry you are working in whether that is the food industry, health care, or others people are out there working hard every day and it is important to know that your labor and the work of you and your co-workers is respected and people are being treated fairly.
“We are out here doing today letting management know that we want a CONTRACT NOW and we want those increases that respect our work and allow us to continue to provide quality care for our patients and still provide for our families.”
Demetria Gordon, a patient care technician, also spoke at the rally:
“We are exercising our rights as hard working Americans to say that we are worth MORE!
“As anyone that works here at RMC knows, they say in their mission statement that “Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.”
“We are giving the hospital the chance to put their money where their mouth is and prove that they care about improving the lives of everyday hardworking health care workers! They are committed to caring about the improvement of human life and so are we.
“If you believe that your mission as on organization is to improve human life than there are a couple thousand workers, their families, and their communities that you can help improve by agreeing to fair raises and increases!”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Chicago – Today, State Rep. Greg Harris joined home care workers and people with disabilities in the Home Services Program to announce the filing of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 28,000 low-income caregivers across Illinois. The suit seeks to compel the Rauner administration to follow the law and release a 48-cent raise that was included in this summer’s bipartisan budget compromise*.
“As the chief sponsor of the budget bill and lead negotiator for the House of Representatives, I know EXACTLY why this language was included,” said Representative Harris. “It’s because we really care about and value the people who are doing some of the hardest jobs in our state, serving people with disabilities and enabling them to live in our communities with dignity, while saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. We did not make this optional to give out these raises, we made it clear that this is the law.”
Plaintiffs named in the suit include workers who were denied the 48-cent raise since Aug. 5, its effective date per statute. Personal Assistants, who are the overwhelming majority of the caregivers entitled to the raise, earn only $13 an hour and have not received a wage increase since 2014.
“The refusal of the administration to pay this 48 cents is another slap in the face to our workforce, which is constituted of the lowest-paid state workers,” said plaintiff and caregiver Alantris Muhammad from Chicago Heights, who has provided services for an individual with a traumatic brain injury for the last 11 years. “Forty-eight cents may not mean anything to a billionaire like Bruce Rauner, but it means a lot to workers like me who have no pension, no vacation, no 401k, and no sick time.”
“Our low pay is hurting the people we care for,” said Ginger Grant, another plaintiff and caregiver from Charleston who has been in the healthcare industry for more than 40 years. “When we have to leave these jobs or work multiple jobs to get by, our consumers have to find someone else to care for them.”
John Abatte, a disability advocate with Access Living, echoed that sentiment: “We are appalled that Governor Rauner refuses to activate and implement this raise. The refusal to integrate this raise is another move by the Governor’s administration that threatens the independence of people with disabilities and the livelihood of in-home care workers, who already make a low salary. We call on Governor Rauner to implement the $.48 raise.”
The Rauner administration is claiming that they cannot provide the agreed-upon raise because of the collective bargaining agreement with SEIU Healthcare Illinois. The State and SEIU Healthcare have been in negotiations for more than two years, with the Rauner administration unwilling to offer any fair proposals. Regardless, SEIU Healthcare Illinois fulfilled this requirement in August when the union emphatically agreed to the raises in bargaining.
“The law is clear: the State is required to implement statutory minimum labor standards. The State is then required to bargain with the union for any increases ABOVE the minimum standard required by statute, and this $.48 increase is now the statutory minimum wage increase,” said Terri Harkin, Vice President with SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union representing the 28,000 caregivers impacted. “Neither the Labor Act nor the SEIU collective bargaining agreement presents an obstacle to the immediate implementation of the raise required by statute.”
“Moreover, SEIU has unequivocally given its consent for the state to implement the $0.48 raise required by statute. In fact it has demanded the state to do so. Therefore, the state’s position that its agreements with SEIU prevent implementation of the raise are both wrong and disingenuous,” Harkin added. “By refusing to grant a raise required by law that the union has agreed to, Rauner is in fact taking an illegal action that is contrary to good-faith bargaining with the home care workers’ union.”
*P.A. 100-0023, Article 30, Section 30-20:“Within 30 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 100th General Assembly, the hourly wage paid to personal assistants and individual maintenance home health workers [in the DHS Home Services Program] shall be increased by $0.48 per hour”
40,000 in Illinois At Risk
CHICAGO–Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley in response to the Trump administration decision to suspend the DACA program: