December 2017

Enough is Enough: People with Disabilities, Caregivers, Advocates Call on Rauner Administration to Halt Suspensions under Draconian DHS Overtime Policy

OT Presser 4People with disabilities and their caregivers rallied at the Thompson Center in Chicago Thursday afternoon to denounce Governor Rauner’s punitive DHS overtime policy, which includes a ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out” approach to violations that could suspend hundreds of caregivers (effectively terminating them), as Illinoisans head into the holiday season.

“Right before the holidays, Bruce Rauner is preparing to suspend the lifeline that people with disabilities count on so they can live independently in their homes,” said Coston Plummer, a personal assistant in the Home Care Services program. “Any day now, hundreds of PA’s could receive suspensions from the state under the DHS overtime policy. The question is ‘why’. Because they refuse to abandon the people they serve.”

Caregivers, already at or near poverty, face an agonizing dilemma under the policy: comply and abandon the consumer in their care; continue to work the hours in their consumer’s care plan and face suspension; or continue to work above the overtime cap but not submit their hours for pay to avoid penalties under the policy.

OT Presser 6

“It’s not fair. Personal assistants are already the lowest paid state workers, and now the governor is capping our hours,” said Cardean Jenkins, a personal assistant. “And he’s withholding our raises that we won in the state budget also. This policy has been confusing from the beginning, and no one in the DORS office seems to have any answers to my questions.”

“I’m disabled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Ayo Maat, ADAPT Chicago member and consumer in the Home Services Program. “We should not have such a bad policy…My PA’s are quitting because they can’t pay their rent, cannot live as decent human beings, and cannot get the healthcare they need for themselves and their families. We have to stand together.”

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Rep. Bruce Franks and Faith Leaders Join Striking Workers, Connect Strikers’ Fight with Black Lives Matter 

Rep. Franks and Workers Demand that Management Recognize the Rights–and Value–of African-American Workforce  

Bruce Franks on the line_580FERGUSON, MO —  As the Christian Care Home strike entered its sixth day, workers on the picket line were joined Thursday night by State Representative Bruce Franks, a vocal leader of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, for a press conference connecting the two struggles.

Rep. Franks, faith leaders and striking workers who took an active role in the police brutality and accountability protests in Ferguson and St. Louis, demanded that the rights of the largely African-American workforce of Christian Care Home be respected by the nursing facility’s ownership.

Many of the striking workers took place in the protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. Last night, they participated with Rep. Franks in a speakout connecting racist policing and unfair treatment on the job — and revealing how both result in black and brown people being treated as second-class citizens.

The speakout was broadcast via Facebook Live–and a recording of the event can be watched here:

During the speakout, striking worker Brenda Davis talked about the spirit of empowerment she felt while protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown, “I feel that same spirit resting on this…strike. We demand to be respected. We demand our dignity…We demand to have a fair contract.”

State Representative Bruce Franks made it clear that workers protesting unfair treatment on the job and protestors hitting the streets for police accountability were resolved in their connected fights. “It’s not about asking,” he said. “It’s not about pleading, it’s about demanding that folks will be treated right, workers will be treated with respect and they will get the contracts that they need and that’s just how it has to go.”

He also spoke to the connection between the fights: “At the end of the day, it’s about combining the fights…from fighting against police brutality, fighting for police accountability, what’s going on in the City of St. Louis and Ferguson and other spots as well as how workers are being treated and standing for our unions, especially our unions that are diverse and our unions that are truly with the people and with the workers.”

And to his commitment to support the strike: “This is where you’ll find me…out on the streets with the people.”

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Member Spotlight: Nursing Home Worker, Lashanda Dixon, DARES Gov. Rauner and Congressman Roskam to Explain Republican Tax Scam to the Faces of Working Families

December 6th, 2017: Lashanda Dixon, a nursing home worker at Alden Lincoln Park Nursing, speaks outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican “tax scam” which will slash Medicaid and Medicare funding for working working families and seniors.

December 6th, 2017: Lashanda Dixon, a nursing home worker at Alden Lincoln Park Nursing, speaks outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican “tax scam” which will slash Medicaid and Medicare funding for working working families and seniors.

(December 6th, 2017) — Read the full text of Lashanda Dixon’s speech outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican “tax scam” which will slash Medicaid and Medicare funding for working working families and seniors. Lashanda works at Alden Lincoln Park Nursing Home. (Watch videos of the action here).

Republicans’ Tax Scam Steals Affordable Healthcare for Seniors and Working Families to Give to the Richest 1%

Hello, my name is Lashawnda Dixon. I work at Alden Lincoln Park Nursing Home.

I am proud of my work to serve others and speak today on behalf of my sisters and brothers at my Union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

The Republican tax bill is nothing but a complete SCAM!

Every single working person in this country is being deceived by the Republican Party about this horrific and irresponsible legislation that will HURT working families.

How is it possible that the Republican tax bill will force working people to PAY MORE IN TAXES, and CUT Medicare by $25 billion next year alone just to give the very rich an unnecessary tax cut!

Why are seniors, and low-income families, and college students, and healthcare workers just like myself the ones who are being hurt and told to sacrifice?

My friends, we the American people are being conned by the Republicans in Congress and by President Trump.

And yes, that includes Congressman Peter Roskam, and the entire Illinois Republican delegation, and of course, billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner.

I challenge Gov. Rauner and Congressman Roskam – no, I DARE them! — to show their faces as a community forum and explain their support for this tax scam that will hurt seniors and working families. 

Because in order to pay for this tax scam the Republicans will slash our healthcare. That means 13 million people will lose their health insurance according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Virtually everyone’s health premiums will go up too. Premiums for people over 50 will increase up to $1,500 per year because of this health repeal according to AARP.

How in the world does this make any sense?

Why does our billionaire Governor, Bruce Rauner, deserve an estimated $300 Million tax cut to escape paying any inheritance taxes along with other tax breaks that benefit him?

As someone who is dedicating my work to improving quality and affordable healthcare we should be EXPANDING access to Medicare and Medicaid and provide living wages to healthcare workers– not slashing these programs.

We should be demanding that the richest 1% pay their fair share in taxes and invest in our communities to create good pay jobs – not giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

We need to lift the crushing burden of student loan debt off the backs of our college students — not saddle them with more loans to give tax breaks to large corporations.

If Donald Trump and the Republican tax scheme is enacted, we will absolutely not forget this betrayal to working families.

And to the politicians who sided with the richest 1%, and large corporations who fleeced our communities, there will be a reckoning and accountability in next year’s elections at the polls.

Thank you.

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Healthcare Workers and Loyola Graduate Students Demand GOP Reject Trump’s Tax Scam

Watch Videos Below — Healthcare Workers Call On Billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner to Speak Out Against Trump’s Tax Bill, and Urge Illinois’ Republican Delegation, Such as Congressman Peter Roskam, to Oppose the Legislation

December 6th, 2017: Kim Smith, a Patient Care Tech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and member of HCII's executive board, speaks outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican "tax scam" and calls out Gov. Bruce Rauner to oppose the bill.

December 6th, 2017: Kim Smith, a Patient Care Tech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and member of HCII’s executive board, speaks outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican “tax scam” and calls out Gov. Bruce Rauner to oppose the bill.

(December 6th, 2017, Chicago, IL) – President Donald Trump’s irresponsible tax “scam” is speeding through Congress. If enacted, Illinois families will lose their healthcare and graduate students would be forced to drop out of college in order to give huge tax cuts to the rich. 

The GOP tax plan will cause as much as a $1.8 billion cut to healthcare services – including hospital visits and nursing home care funded through Medicaid – as well as jeopardize the education of over 170,000 graduate students.

While Illinois families experience deep cuts under the bill, the wealthy will receive enormous tax breaks – including a $300 million cut for Governor Rauner who endorsed the plan days ago. Rep. Peter Roskam voted for a version of the GOP tax plan that passed in November and has been appointed to the conference committee that will work out the details of the final bill.

Nursing home worker Lashawnda Dixon dared Rauner and Roskam to explain their support of GOP tax scam at a town hall.  Dion knew they couldn’t because the plan robs college education and healthcare from their constituents.

Lashanda Dixon, Alden Lincoln Park Nursing Home (read full text).

Kim Smith, a patient care tech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital talked about how GOP tax scam steals from her patients on Medicaid while giving $300 million in tax breaks to Governor Rauner. “This ain’t nothing but a robbery,” she said.

Kim Smith, a Patient Care Tech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Graduate students at Loyola joined with healthcare and nursing home leaders to let Congressman Peter Roskam, Governor Rauner and the GOP know that they are paying attention. Jean Clifford, a PhD candidate in philosophy, described how the latest attacks on higher education increases the need for a union for graduate students.

On Tuesday, Clifford marched on Capitol Hill with grad students from all over the United States. In describing the action, she said that” [w]e showed up at Speaker Ryan’s office and refused to leave until we spoke with him. Because he would not speak with us, the Capitol Police arrested us.

Our message to GOP is simple: don’t fund tax cuts to corporations on the backs of students and workers.”

She was joined by Alec Stubbs, a fellow PhD candidate in philosophy. This tax bill is a major issue on the Loyola campus. Stubbs shared that the graduate student union held a rally on Monday where over 50 students, faculty and community members came together to demand that there be more transparency around this bill. He stated that

“this bill demonstrates how vulnerable higher education is and that the GOP is not going to listen to us unless we demand it.”

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Lashawnda Dixon, Alden Lincoln Park Nursing, speaks out at Loyola University about the Republican "tax scam and bill" which will slash Medicaid funding, December 6th, 2017.

December 6th, 2017: Lashanda Dixon, a nursing home worker at Alden Lincoln Park Nursing, speaks outside of Loyola University in Chicago about the Republican “tax scam” which will slash Medicaid and Medicare funding for working working families and seniors.


 

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Rep. Bruce Franks to Join Striking Workers to Connect Strikers’ Fight with Black Lives Matter

Day6ChristianCare3

Rep. Franks and Workers to Demand that Management Recognize the Rights –and Value– of African-American Workforce 

FERGUSON, MO —  As the Christian Care Home strike enters its sixth day, workers on the picket line will be joined tonight at 5PM by State Representative Bruce Franks, a vocal leader of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, for a press conference connecting the two struggles.

Rep. Franks and striking workers who took an active role in the police brutality protests in Ferguson and St. Louis, will demand that the rights of the largely African-American workforce of Christian Care Home be respected by the nursing facility’s ownership.

Many of the striking workers took place in the protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. Tonight, they will join Rep. Franks to speak out about the connection between racist policing and unfair treatment on the job — and how both result in black and brown people being treated as second-class citizens.

WHAT: State Rep. Bruce Franks and community supporters, including faith leaders Darryl Commings, Korla Masters and Jon Stratton to join striking Christian Care workers to demand that the rights of the mostly African American workers be valued

WHEN and WHERE:

5:00 PM, WEDNESDAY, December 6, 2017

Christian Care Home

800 Chambers Rd. in Ferguson

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Students & Healthcare Workers to Demand GOP Reject Trump’s Tax Plan

Chicago, IL – Trump’s tax plan is speeding through Congress. If enacted, Illinois families will lose their healthcare and graduate students would be forced to drop out of college in order to give huge tax cuts to the rich. 

The GOP tax plan will cause as much as a $1.8 billion cut to healthcare services – including hospital visits and nursing home care funded through Medicaid – as well as jeopardize the education of over 170,000 graduate students. While Illinois families experience deep cuts under the bill, the wealthy will receive enormous tax breaks – including a $300 million cut for Governor Rauner who endorsed the plan days ago.  On November 16th, Rep. Peter Roskam – a member of the GOP House leadership – voted in favor of the House version of Trump’s tax plan.  The U.S. Senate narrowly passed a slightly differnet tax plan at 2 A.M. on Saturday morning. The House and Senate have appointed members to a conference committee to reconcile the different versions before the plan can become law. Rep. Roskam was appointed to that committee.    

On Wednesday, graduate students and healthcare workers at Loyola University will demand GOP leaders Gov. Bruce Rauner and Rep. Peter Roskam reverse course and oppose the Trump tax plan.

 

When: Noon. Wednesday, December 6th

 

Where: Loyola University entrance on the east sidewalk of Sheridan Ave across from Loyola red line stop at 1200 W Loyola Ave, Chicago.

 

Who: Kim Smith, Patient Care Tech at Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Lashawnda Dixon, Alden Lincoln Park Nursing Home

Alec Stubbs, Teaching Assistant at Loyola University Chicago

Jean Clifford, Research Assistant at Loyola University Chicago

Yelyzaveta DiStefano, Teaching Assistant at Loyola University Chicago

 

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ICYMI: Nov. 29 DORS TTH Recap

DORS Overtime Policy Updates

On August 1, despite outcry from people with disabilities, caregivers, and advocates, the State moved forward with implementation of their flawed overtime policy. 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 us overtime. There are some exceptions to the policy and we encourage everyone with a consumer who is impacted to apply for an exception right away.

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 in September, an administrative law judge ruled in our favor – stating that the Rauner administration violated state labor law by implementing their overtime cap without bargaining with our union.

The Rauner administration appealed that judge’s decision to the full labor board though and now we are awaiting a decision from them. We know that Rauner has stacked the labor board with people who aren’t friendly towards workers, but we are confident that legally we are in the right and hope that we get a positive decision soon.

In addition to awaiting that decision, we are also still pushing for an emergency injunction that would halt the policy due to the harm it is causing and because there are PAs who could receive their third disciplinary occurrences any day now, which would result in a three-month suspension. There have been 1200 first occurrences sent out and 200 second occurrences to our knowledge.

Those who have received an occurrence – if you have not already done so, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to report it. We have filed a class action grievance against the State regarding these occurrences.  Another important piece of information that we’ve heard from a few PAs is that the State revoked their occurrences when their consumers filed appeals regarding the State denying their Exception Request.

We don’t have anything official from the state that says PAs can work all their normal hours while their consumer applies for or appeals an exception decision, but hearing that the State did this for multiple PAs who reported back to the union seems like another good reason for every consumer impacted by this policy to apply for an exception.

As we continue to fight the overtime policy through the legal process, we are also keeping up the pressure publicly.

We have an action planned for Thursday, December 7, in Chicago at 12:30 p.m. with our allies in the disability community at the Thompson Center and we are asking everyone who can join us to be there and make our voices heard against this terrible policy. Call the MRC at 866-933-7348 to RSVP. 

 

Update on Our $.48 Raises

State lawmakers passed a budget that specifically included raises for Personal Assistants in July, but the governor is going out of his way to deny us what legally is ours. This man is a billionaire and he’s denying the lowest paid state workers a $.48 raise. PAs have not received a raise since December 2014!

It shows that Rauner will stop at nothing to attack Personal Assistants and the Home Services Program. We all know that when workers can’t survive off the wages they earn, they’re forced to leave the home care industry to find other work. That hurts people with disabilities.

The raise was supposed to take effect on August 5, 2017 and we filed a class-action lawsuit that demands that our raises be implemented and that every PA get their back pay for hours worked since August 5. We are still awaiting on a decision from the courts, but we are confident we will win. It’s so disappointing that the governor is playing these games when all he has to do is follow the law, do the right thing, and give PAs their raise!

Bargaining Updates

Our bargaining team is continuing to show a strong, united front in negotiations and we show up each session ready to make progress. Unfortunately, Governor Rauner clearly has no interest in reaching a fair agreement with us.

We’ve been bargaining since 2015 and all we’ve heard from Rauner is that he wants to take us backward – eliminate our health care and training, weaken our union rights, and implement a wage freeze!

We have fought so hard over the last thirty years to get where we are today and we cannot let one man get in the way of our progress.

At the table, we continue to fight for our top priorities:

  • To protect our health insurance,
  • Protect our training program,
  • Get the old pay dates restored, and
  • To win $15/hour so we can support our families and keep doing this important work.

Over time, Rauner has backed off on eliminating healthcare and training, but still refuses to restore the pay dates and still wants a wage freeze. It is important to note that while we bargain, PAs are covered by our old contract still and maintain the rights and protections we’ve always had.

Over the last two and half years, we have seen time and time again, if we want to move forward, we have to elect a new governor who stands with home care workers, people with disabilities, and seniors.

The results of the gubernatorial election in 2018 will decide the future of home care in Illinois. We have two paths to choose between: Illinois can re-elect Gov. Rauner and we may never win a new contract, the attacks on home care will continue and escalate, and Rauner will feel emboldened to go after unions and workers’ rights even more than he does now. Or, we can reject all that Bruce Rauner stands for and fire him in 2018 and replace him with someone who will understand that the job of the governor is to represent ALL ILLINOISANS, not just the wealthy 1%.

While we don’t know who the democratic nominee will be yet, any of the candidates running right now are committed to investing in and valuing home care services, caregivers, and the people we serve. Those are the kind of people we need in charge of our state.

Like all politicians, we will still have the hold them accountable once elected, but the stakes are too high to not take action. It’s up to us as union members and as caregivers to do everything we can to make sure our friends, families, and neighbors get out to the polls in 2018 and send Bruce Rauner packing.

If you have further questions about any of these updates, feel free to call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348. 

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