November 2017

Ho-ho-NO: Ominous Holidays in Store for People with Disabilities as Caregivers Face Suspensions Under Draconian Rauner OT Policy

Illegally-implemented rules threaten workforce, cause anxiety, threaten bankruptcies and homelessness as promises made go unmet

Chicago – Exactly as advocates have warned for two years, the Rauner administration’s illegally implemented overtime policy for the DHS Home Services Program for people with disabilities has disrupted care, stripped consumers of choice, dignity and independence and placed unnecessary strain on the caregiving program that advocates have worked decades to build and strengthen.

The coming weeks, heading into the holidays, will reveal whether the Rauner administration will go forward with a key piece of its punitive plan and suspend workers (effectively terminating them) as part of a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” scheme.

Many of these workers, already at or near poverty, say they are facing personal bankruptcy or losing their homes or cars if they are suspended. Reports of caregivers continuing to work above the overtime cap but not submitting their hours for pay to avoid penalties under the policy are also rampant.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Access Living, and Chicago ADAPT on Thursday, November 30, released the following statement calling on the Rauner administration to halt the harmful overtime policy:

“The Rauner administration is poised to deliver a third and fatal round of discipline to caregivers in violation of the illegal policy, resulting in three-month suspensions, any day now. This action, which will do the same work as firing these poverty-level workers, will destabilize our care system in Illinois for people with disabilities, limit their dignity and independence and displace dedicated caregivers in a program already struggling with high turnover.

“While the State presses on with the harmful “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” discipline, local HSP offices remain unequipped to answer the most basic questions or offer support to those trying to navigate the confusing policy. The Rauner administration STILL has yet to provide the promised-for counseling for those in violation of the policy and for the hundreds of caregivers who have received multiple disciplinary “occurrences” and have no means to appeal.

“Suspending caregivers just ahead of the holiday season will leave people with disabilities stranded with nowhere to turn and likely will result in many of the suspended caregivers working without pay. This is unconscionable and can be prevented.

“Enough is enough. Until the ameliorative promises made to advocates to try and fix the consequences of this bad policy can be fulfilled, the overtime implementation should be halted and disciplinary “occurrences” should be rescinded.”

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December Membership Meetings for Illinois Home Care Workers

STATEWIDE SEIU HOME CARE MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2

South Suburbs – 9:30 a.m. at the Harvey Community Center at 15320 Center Street, Harvey, IL

Chicago – 10 a.m. at our union office at 2229 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL

Peoria – 10 a.m. at our union office at 400 N.E. Jefferson Street, Peoria, IL

Rockford – 10 a.m. at our NEW union office at 4920 E. State Street, Rockford, IL

Springfield – 11 a.m.at our union office at 701 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, IL

Metro East – 11 a.m. at our union office at 449 N. 33rd Street, East St. Louis, IL

 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9

Mt. Vernon – 10 a.m. at our union office at 206 S. 9th Street, Mt. Vernon, IL

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BREAKING: Tentative Agreement Reached with Help at Home in Illinois

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Our elected statewide bargaining team at Help at Home in Illinois just reached a Tentative Agreement with management for our new raises that we won in the state budget!

Thanks to our hard work in Springfield and at the bargaining table, Help at Home home care aides will receive their hard-won raises just in time for the holiday season, along with other important improvements.

Here’s what we won:

• $.73 raise retro to August 1st, 2017. Our raises & retro will be implemented on our Dec 15th paychecks. The raise is based on the wage rate we earned on 6/30/17.

• Increase to $1.77 for our Health Fund contributions.

• Paid sick time for all workers covered by the Cook County Ordinance.

• Travel Time paid at local minimum wage effective Nov 1st, 2017.

• Other improvements including vacation eligibility being based on anniversary date.

This is a huge victory for home care aides at Help at Home who, along with other home care aides across Illinois who are united in our union, have fought for years to win the rate increase in Springfield that made our raises possible. Our Help at Home bargaining team fought hard and refused to take NO for an answer from management. When we stick together in our union, we have real power and this new agreement is another testament to that fact.

The next step is for Help at Home home care aides to vote to ratify the new agreement so our raises can be implemented. Stay tuned for voting instructions.

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Rauner “Applauds” Plan to Cut His Own Taxes to be Paid for By Cuts to Healthcare and Tax Hikes on Working Families

4 RaunerTaxesTrump Washes Rauner FB

Chicago – On Wednesday, Governor Rauner went on the record to support Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans’ tax plan, saying, “I’m applauding Congress. I hope they come through.”

That plan would net Rauner an estimated $300 million in tax breaks according to an analysis SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ research division conducted last month.

The GOP tax plan will be paid for by slashing Medicaid and other federal health care supports and with tax hikes on a majority of all families.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley issued the following in response to Rauner’s support of the GOP tax plan:

“Today, Gov. Rauner showed his true colors. He’s not the Carhartt jacket, $18 watch wearing ‘every day man’ that he wants us to believe. He’s a billionaire who would rather have Illinois families give up their healthcare to pay for HIS massive $300 million tax cut provided by Trump and the Republican Congress. Rauner doesn’t need another mansion, but families – children, people with disabilities and the elderly — need healthcare provided through Medicaid, which would be drastically cut and lead to devastating circumstances for millions if Rauner gets his wish.”

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Democratic Governor Candidates Answer Questions From HCII Members

Five potential Democratic nominees for Illinois governor came to our headquarters on Chicago’s South Side to answer questions and talk about their vision for Illinois future as it relates to our members in November.

JB Pritzker, Chris Kennedy, Tio Hardiman, Bob Daiber, and State Senator Daniel Biss heard stories from our members and answered questions for our Executive Board for two hours, giving their stances on everything from how they would work to ensure living wages for workers to quality care at nursing homes to protecting union rights, immigrant rights, health care, and more. “There is a big crisis in child care,” Maricarmen Macias, a home child care provider, told the candidates. “Parents cannot afford to pay for child care while 20,000 providers are paid very low rates. Every single dollar I make goes to my children. Many providers cannot get buy because their wages are so low.”

 

The candidates agreed that they support both higher wages for child care providers, along with universal child care. “I believe this is essential for the future of our state,” said Pritzker. “For working class people who can’t afford child care, that’s where universal child care is so important,” said Daiber. “To allow working class people to be able to go to work and know their children have proper care and that providers are being paid a wage for which they’re providing quality care.”

Forestine Pressey, a nursing home worker with 46 years experience who works on Chicago’s South Side, talked to the candidates about safe staffing. She said sometimes she is left to care for 32 high-needs paitents all by herself. “Everyday I witness residents who live in at risk of short staffing, and everyday nursing home workers like me and my coworkers are trying to do the job of 2 and 3 people,” Pressey told the candidates.

“We need real teeth, real penalities, real fines,” said Daniel Biss, who introduced legislation alongside SEIU Healthcare this past session to help alleviate some of the staffing issues nursing home workers face. “We know that the question of what we’re going to do to improve the quality of life for nursing home workers and what we’re going to do to improve the quality of life for residents are the same question. That’s what staffing ratios are about, it’s about life and death for the residents. We don’t care if there’s a law on the books since 2010 that says staffing ratios have to be reasonable if there’s no teeth and it’s being ignored.”

JB Pritzker told home care worker Atlantis Muhammad that he would reverse Rauner’s overtime caps for home care work. He said there should be no caps what-so- ever. He also told Pressey that when nursing home operators violate staffing laws. “We should hit them where it hurts [the pocketbook],” Pritzker said. Pritzker recalled his time on the picket line with SEIU nursing home workers back in April during our practice stirke.

 

Wellington Thomas, an emergency technician at Loretto Hospital located in the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side, asked candidates what they would do to support and lift up safety net hospitals, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities.

“The truth is the leadership of this city and this state don’t want to protect safety net hospitals,” said Kennedy. “You look at what the governor did right before Thanksgiving – totally screwed safety net hospitals. He robbed them of access to insurance programs they built themselves that were tailored to clients they take care of. It’s not accidental, and it doesn’t have to be like that. We can fix the funding for safety net hospitals, we just have to want to.”

Bob Daiber told Wellington that safety net hospitals were vital for both rural counties down by where he lives as well as urban communities up in Chicago. Diaber also brought up the threat of “right-to- work.” He’s seen Missouri go “right-to- work” across the river from where he lives. He’s said “I won’t just say no to right to work in Illinois, I’ll say hell no!”

Candidates were asked about reinstituting the state’s wage board and using it as vehicle to raise wages. All candidates said they would. All candidates pledged to support a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour.

 

Genoveva Ramírez – a member from our sister local, SEIU Local 1 – told her story about being the victim of a crime and how reporting that to law enforcement almost caused her to be deported. She asked if candidates would support SB 32, which protect immigrants who are victims of crimes or witness them can be protected from deportation.

 

All five candidates agreed to support a progressive income tax, but also said they were aware the state is in dire need of new sources of revenue. Hardiman told members that he supported both a financial transaction tax and decriminalizing and taxing marijuana. “I support the financial transaction tax, which is one avenue that could bring in $3 billion of revenue in Illinois,” he said, adding that the revenue could be used to shore up funding for programs for senior citizens and universal child care.

All five candidates also signed a pledge to protect working families. The pledge reads that candidates will demonstrate their commitments for:

  • $15 as a minimum wage.
  • Funding to maintain safety net hospitals in underserved communities.
  • Access to affordable child care for Illinois families and living wages for child care workers.
  • Holding the hospital industry accountable to support worker’s rights to organize free from fear and retaliation.
  • Greater enforcement of existing staffing regulations in nursing homes, including potential financial penalties.
  • Protection of training programs and union rights for home healthcare workers.

 

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November is National Family Caregivers Month

“Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and communities strong.”

– President Barack Obama, NFC Month Proclamation 2012

national family caregivers month

Since 2012, throughout the month of November, we celebrate family caregivers across the nation.

Here in Illinois, thousands of home care workers support their loved ones through the Home Services Program and the Community Care Program, providing love, care, dignity and independence. 

We want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank all of our home care members for your selfless dedication as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday.  

Caregiving is exhausting and challenging work, especially when we are caring for those in our lives that mean the most to us: our families. 

Your work is valuable and you are not alone – our union and the more than 50,000 home care workers united with us stand firmly behind you. 

Thank you for all that you do and we hope you and your family have a warm and happy Thanksgiving. 

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Senior Care Protection Bill Heads to Gov. Rauner’s Desk

Bill On Way Amid Continued Threat of Massive Cuts & 2nd-Class Service

Is it the Last Thanksgiving In Their Own Homes for 1000s of Illinois Seniors?

 Stand with seniors1SPRINGFIELD-As evidence mounts that his administration STILL is seeking ways to enact massive cuts and to create a second-class range of services for low-income seniors, a bill to protect the vastly-successful Community Care Program was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk Tuesday.

 

House Bill 1424, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris in the House and Sen. Daniel Biss in the Senate, would lock in eligibility and service protections for the nearly 40,000 seniors who faced a $120 million cut during the budget impasse.

 

The Rauner administration continues to propose an untested and unproven patchwork of vouchers and strangers without background checks to replace the caregivers who help keep seniors in their homes instead of much-costlier nursing facilities.

 

The Rauner scheme was overridden in bipartisan fashion this summer, but some of these moves are being reborn in a controversial task force (from which leading senior advocates such as the AARP were excluded) run by the Rauner Department on Aging that has been meeting in recent months. The task force also is considering proposals to provide lower levels of care to seniors who are not yet covered by Medicaid.

 

Said Rep. Greg Harris:

 

“Without the Community Care Program, this could be the last Thanksgiving in their homes for thousands of Illinois seniors. That’s why it is so important that Gov. Rauner abandon his attempt to dismantle this vastly-successful program and sign House Bill 1424, so that seniors who need it receive the same level of care, no matter their Medicaid status.”

 

Said Sen. Daniel Biss:

 

“Gov. Rauner’s platform relies on attacking Middle Class and working families and his latest attempts to dismantle the Community Care Program remind us that even seniors aren’t immune from his right-wing ideological agenda. Unlike Gov. Rauner, I believe every Illinoisan deserves to age with dignity and security. That’s why I organized my Senate colleagues against Gov. Rauner’s proposed budget cuts and reductions in care and why I’m urging him to change course and sign HB 1424 today.”

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Grand Manor SEIU Members Approve New Contract

Grand Manor 2017 TA

Congratulations to SEIU members at Grand Manor Nursing & Rehab in St. Louis on ratifying their new contract!

The bargaining team (pictured above) fought hard to bring a strong new agreement to coworkers for approval and here’s a few highlights of what we won:

  • $1.50 in raises over the life of the contract.
  • Increased new hire rates by 25% for nursing and 12% for ancillary.
  • Employer-paid health insurance.
  • Vacation roll-over.
  • LGBTQ protections from discrimination.
  • Schedule adjustments upon mutual agreement.
  • Rotating system for mandatory overtime.

Impressive dedication and leadership exhibited by the bargaining team brought home this victory, along with strong support from coworkers. When we stick together, we win!

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Major Questions for Senior Care in IL as Controversial Task Force Meets Today; Cuts or Care? 2nd-Class Services on the Way? Is CCP Safe?

seniorcutsrally8As a controversial task force that appears to have been rigged by the Rauner administration meets today jointly in Springfield and Chicago at 1 p.m., major questions have arisen for the future of home healthcare for seniors in Illinois.

The Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) task force already is under fire for excluding major stakeholders in the Community Care Program (CCP), which saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars as it provides services for as many as 100,000 Illinois seniors. Now, as the task force concludes its work, it appears to be incubating some ideas passed down from the failed attempt this summer by Gov. Rauner to cut $120 million from the program, reducing care by a third for almost 40,000 seniors.

PILOT PROGRAMS

The Rauner administration is diverting IDOA funds to two pilot programs in Bloomington and East Moline featuring “flexible” services along the lines of its ill-conceived “Community Reinvestment Program”  that was thwarted by the General Assembly this summer as part of the bipartisan budget compromise passed over Gov. Rauner’s veto.

At least one of the pilots is reported to be having difficulty with its funding mechanism, just as it was supposed to begin.

  1. What is the status of each pilot program and what are their budgets?
  2. From where in the IDOA budget have funds for the pilots been diverted?
  3. How are seniors being recruited and/or chosen to participate in the pilot programs?

“FLEXIBILITY”

Some of the recommendations to the task force stress “flexibility” and “flexible services” for some seniors in the Community Care Program, but that “flexibility” appears to be masquerading as a means to cut services and keep wages low.

  1. Does “flexibility” stand as a euphemism for cutting costs, keeping wages low and reducing services?
  1. Does this task force see its primary mission as a place to cut costs or as a place to improve services for senior consumers of the Community Care Program?
  2. What guarantees are there for seniors that “flexibility” doesn’t translate to their preferred caregivers being laid off and their service levels, including service quality, being reduced?

SECOND-CLASS CARE

Recommendations under consideration by the task force include tiering benefits for seniors in the Community Care Program who are NOT currently covered by Medicaid, even though this population (almost 40,000 consumers out of as many as 100,000) generally cycle in-and-out of Medicaid eligibility frequently.

  1. Are non-Medicaid seniors going to be provided lower-class care under this program?
  2. Will this task force consider reducing the maximum value of services for non-Medicaid seniors?

Today is the last scheduled meeting of the task force, at which members are supposed to finalize recommendations so IDOA staff can create the report that will be sent to the General Assembly in January.

Is senior care safe?

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BREAKING NEWS: Tentative Agreement Reached with Addus

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Our SEIU statewide elected bargaining team at Addus just reached a Tentative Agreement with management for our new raises!

We won on all of our top priorities:

  • $.72/hour increase for all Addus workers, with retro pay to Aug 1st (Based on wages earned on 6/30/17).
  • Increase to $1.77 for our Health Fund to protect our health insurance.
  • Paid sick time for all workers covered by the Cook County Paid Sick Time ordinance.
  • Protected our mileage from any reductions.

This is a huge victory for home care aides at Addus who have fought for years to win the rate increase in Springfield that made our raises possible. When Addus management tried to reduce our mileage and delay the implementation of our raises, our bargaining team stood strong and said NO WAY! When we stick together in our union, we have real power and this new agreement is testament to that fact.

The next step is for Addus home care aides to vote to ratify the new agreement so our raises can be implemented. Stay tuned for voting instructions.

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