March 2018

“Right to Heal” Coalition of Veterans and VA Workers Issues Statement After President Trump Fired Secretary of the VA David Shulkin and Replaced Him with Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson

Veterans Groups and Advocates Sound the Alarm and Demand that Rear Adm. Jackson State Publicly that the Trump Administration Will Not Seek to Privatize the VA and Work to Dismantle Healthcare for Veterans and Families

Save_the_VA_graphicFor Immediate Release

Contact: Aaron Hughes,, Right to Heal

Scott Vogel,

(March 30, 2018, Chicago) – President Donald Trump just fired VA Secretary David Shulkin and replaced him with Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson as head of the VA.

This move is worrisome for advocates working to protect healthcare for veterans. The Right to Heal coalition call upon Admiral Jackson to state publicly and forcefully that veterans’ healthcare and vital services will not be privatized, cut, or that parts of the VA be dismantled. Veterans’ healthcare is not a profit margin.

Of major concern is that Adm. Jackson appears to have zero management or leadership experience running a complex agency like the VA. The agency has a $200 billion budget that cares for over 9 million veterans, and tasked with running 170 medical centers and 1,061 outpatient clinics.

In response, the Right to Heal coalition, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, About Face: VAW, and AFGE 789 issues the following joint statement:

“The Trump Administration, VA Administration, and Congress must expand access to the VA Healthcare and insure the VA Healthcare is fully staffed, absolutely not privatize the VA so that medical institutions and pharmaceuticals industry can profit off our care and the care of our fellow veterans.

“President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of Secretary Shulkin demonstrates how little the President cares for veterans’ healthcare and services. President Trump’s choice of Rear Adm. Jackson, essentially Trump’s personal doctor who gave him a clean bill of health, to lead one of the largest organizations in the country and whose sacred duty is to provide care for our nation’s veterans is utterly cynical. This decision makes a mockery of the vital role that VA plays in the lives of our fellow veterans.

“Right now, there are urgent issues and crises in the VA that demand focus and attention. “There are over 49,000 job vacancies nationwide across the VA but the President has effectively done nothing to show leadership or demand fully and safe staffing ratios this critical agency that cares for our nation’s veterans.


SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley speaks outside Jesse Brown VA against the estimated 49,000 job vacancies in the VA, September 2017.

“This agenda to short-staff the VA is an attempt to justify privatizing veterans’ healthcare and turn the system over to private health insurers and profit-driven hospitals who don’t understand nor can effectively provide the specialized care and services that veterans require.

Additionally, many veterans still do not have access to the VA because of their disability rating or discharge status.

“We agree with Secretary Shulkin’s op-ed in the New York Times after he was fired that: ‘Privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.’

“The truth is that the VA is the model for what healthcare should look like in this country. The VA is a single payer healthcare model that works and works well. Despite constant attacks by those that want to privatize the VA, and persistently underfunded by Congress, the VA has done as well or out-performed the private sector with less money.

“In a 2016 report from the Congress created Commission on Care found that veterans who are treated at VHA receive coordinated care, whereas those with private plans receive care that is ‘lower quality, threatens patient safety, and shifts cost among payers.’ (1)

”The VA provides quality and specialized healthcare to millions of veterans and their families which means families don’t have to go bankrupt to afford essential healthcare.  It is because the VA is a true not-for-profit healthcare system that conservatives and corporate opportunists, like the Koch Brothers, continue to attack it. This system works for the benefit of veterans and families without generating massive corporate profits.

“With this new shakeup, our Right to Heal VA Campaign demands that Rear Adm. Jackson and President Trump state unequivocally that the Administration will not pursue an agenda to privatize the VA in anyway shape or form. It is essential that President Trump and his administration keeps its word and honors the service of our fellow veterans by protecting the VA.”

1. Gorden, Suzanne. The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare. Cornell Publishing, 2017. pg56.

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Personal Assistants Step Up & Speak Out Statewide Demanding Rauner Release 48-Cent Raises & Back Pay Owed

This week, Personal Assistants for people with disabilities held press conferences and actions in Carbondale, Rockford, Peoria, Chicago, Springfield, and Champaign to denounce Governor Rauner’s plan to appeal the Court’s decision regarding our 48-cent raises.

On March 13, a Cook County Judge sided with our union, ruling that Governor Rauner broke the law by refusing to release our 48-cent raises and our back pay that’s owed since August 5, 2017. The Judge ordered that Rauner pay it out by March 21, 2018. Unfortunately, the Rauner administration asked the Judge to stay the Court’s ruling pending appeal – meaning our back pay and the implementation of our raises will be delayed again.

While we are ready to keep up the fight in court, PAs are also committed to keeping the pressure on in our communities. Check out photos and media coverage from the powerful events that took place this week below!

Carbondale-area caregivers were joined by Marsha Griffin, who is running for state representative.

Carbondale-area caregivers were joined by Marsha Griffin, who is running for state representative.

KFVS-TV and WSIU Public Radio covered the Carbondale press conference. Click here for the WSIU story. 







Rockford PAs teamed up with State Representative Litesa Wallace to get their message out.

Rockford PAs teamed up with State Representative Litesa Wallace to get their message out.


The Rockford press conference was covered by both WIFR-TV and WQRF/WTVO-TV. Click here and here to check out those stories. 





Tim Sommer is a PA for his son, Seaver, and they both spoke out in Peoria.

Tim Sommer is a PA for his son, Seaver, and they both spoke out in Peoria, along with local caregivers Amanda Goodwin and Charimain Terrell.




WEEK-TV covered the press conference in Peoria, click here to view that coverage




In Chicago, PAs and people with disabilities in the Home Services Program delivered over 1500 petition signatures demanding the release of our 48-cent raises.

In Chicago, PAs and people with disabilities in the Home Services Program delivered over 1500 petition signatures demanding the release of our 48-cent raises.









Ginger Grant and Richard Osby led a press conference in Champaign, surrounded by fellow caregivers impacted by the governor's appeal.

Ginger Grant and Richard Osby led a press conference in Champaign, surrounded by fellow caregivers impacted by the governor’s appeal.

Check out coverage from WCIA-TV, WICS-TV, and WILL Public Radio in Champaign here, here, and here







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#VeracareStrike Update

Updated Monday, April 2nd at 4:00 PM

Following their high-energy one-day strike on MLK Day this January, Veracare nursing home workers returned to the strike line at 5 a.m. Tuesday, March 27, in response to owner Israel Davis’ continued refusal to follow basic labor law. Learn more about what led to the current unfair labor practice strike at Veracare.

Having gained the support of resident families, elected officials, and faith leaders during the seven-day long (twelve-hours a day) unfair labor practice strike, workers voted to return to work Tuesday morning.

Workers are warning owner Israel Davis that he’s got two strikes against him – both literally and figuratively – and they are prepared to give him strike three if necessary.

Scroll down to take a look back at all the action that took place during the week-long unfair labor practice.

Day 7

Veracare worker Sharon Lake says: “We’re going back into the facility, but the fight continues.”

Veracare Day 7 Group Shot

Day 6

Sunday’s Easter Vigil on the Veracare strike line garnered TV coverage from WGN, ABC7, NBC5, & FOX32.  See all the coverage here.

The strike line was fired up…


And check out these photos.

New Veracare Strike Photos Screenshot


Day 5

Another 12 hours on the strike line is in the books.

Day 5 Group Shot_580

Day 4 Update

Angela, whose mom is a paitent at Veracare, explains why she supports the workers on strike.

And workers held a speak out explaining exactly why they were striking. 

And Minnie the Strike Shitzu Stopped By…

Day 3 Update

Ruthie revealed to us her favorite chant, Ozzie told us what she means when she says she wants a fair contract, and we found out who is able to walk the strike line less than 24 hours after having a root canal!

Day 2 Update

Today we gained two more strikers and energy remained high on the line throughout!

And There Was Dancing…

Day 1 Update

Striking workers were joined for a rally on Tuesday afternoon.  They were joined by Cook County Board Commissioner Jesús G. “Chuy” García, State Representative André M. Thapedi, State Representative-Elect Aaron Ortiz, Democratic nominee for Cook County Board District 7 Alma Anaya‏, and others.

Check out these photos

Photo Album

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Home Care Worker, Coston Plummer, Speaks at “Fair Tax Now!” Rally

IMG_0890_Coston_Plummer_home_care_DORS_PA_and_CCP_fair_tax_rally_03_27_18(March 27, 2018, Chicago) — Coston Plummer, our home care worker, spoke at the “Fair Tax Now!” rally outside the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. See his speech below.


My name is Coston Plummer and I am honored to speak today.

I am a home care worker that supports my brother through the DORS program who suffers from cerebral palsy.

I also care for my Mom through the Community Care Program who became wheelchair bound after battling cancer and overcoming two major surgeries.

Like my fellow home care workers across the state, I too earn a poverty wage.

Just two weeks ago, I went to the grocery store to buy some food and household items.

But the bill was over what I had, and so I had to walk and put some items back on the shelf. You can imagine what that feels like.

I remember thinking to myself, “This sure doesn’t seem fair.”

And you know, it’s not fair.

I would like to give an economics lesson to those who think low-wage workers like myself should pay the same income tax rate as billionaires, like Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

How does that possibly make any sense?

Because Illinois has a flat income tax, it means there is no ability to invest in our home care program, nor to give workers like myself a decent wage that we desperately need.

Fair Tax Now no time to waste - TwitterContinuing our current flat income tax means cutting vital home care services just to balance Illinois’ budget.

Being a home care worker in Illinois is a sacrifice. It is some of the most demanding and mentally exhausting work a person can do.

But it feels like Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers who oppose the Fair Tax don’t respect us.

They act like we don’t do “real work.”

The Fair Tax can be – and must be – the ultimate “win – win” for Illinois.

The Fair Tax is an opportunity to protect vital programs like home care from being cut – and actually invest in our workforce and grow our local economy.

The fair tax is absolutely clear and simple: it says that those who earn more income, should contribute more to our state.

All we are asking for is a little respect, and a whole lot of fairness!

Thank you.


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Veracare Nursing Home Workers to Go on Unfair Labor Practice Strike Again Following Owner’s Continued Refusal to Follow Labor Law and Respect Workplace Rights

Strike is an Escalation of One-Day MLK Day


BURBANK, IL—Following their high-energy one-day strike on MLK Day this January, Veracare nursing home workers will be returning to the strike line at 5 a.m. Tuesday, March 27, in response to owner Israel Davis’ continued refusal to follow basic labor law.

The 60 workers have been attempting to settle a fair contract for a year and, following the owner’s refusal to bargain in good faith, went on a one-day unfair labor practice (ULP) strike in January. This second strike comes as workers have grown increasingly frustrated both by Israel Davis’ ever-growing list of unfair labor practices—many in direct retaliation for workers speaking out—and his refusal to bargain a contract with fair wage increases, affordable health insurance and respect for their basic workplace rights.

Many of the striking workers have cared for residents at the facility for over 20 years, but have illegally had their years of seniority erased and their accumulated vacation hours taken away.


Nursing home workers at Veracare Nursing Home are going on an unfair labor practice strike this week—as an escalation of their one-day strike on MLK Day—to demand that the facility owner stop violating labor law and take immediate action to settle a fair contract.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

5 AMWorkers on night shift walk off the job to start strike. Striking workers will engage in a short speak out on their reasons for striking.

3:30 PM—Striking workers are joined by elected officials, including State Representative André M. Thapedi and other community leaders and supporters for a Press Conference on the strike.

Speakers include:

Cook County Board Commissioner Jesús G. “Chuy” García
State Representative André M. Thapedi
State Representative Elect Aaron Ortiz


5400 W 87TH ST BURBANK, IL 60459


The 60 Veracare workers going on an unfair labor practice strike this week are escalating their one-day strike on MLK Day to demand that owner Israel Davis end his lawbreaking behavior and settle a fair contract immediately. Despite the workers’ brave decision to strike in January, and the outpouring of support that striking workers received by the community including that of Cook County Board Commissioner Jesús G. “Chuy” García and of gubernatorial candidate J. B. Pritzker, owner Israel Davis has not only failed to stop his unfair labor practices, but has continued to subject workers to new unfair labor practices.

In addition to an immediate cessation of unfair labor practices, workers are demanding a fair contract providing for general wage increases, affordable health insurance, recognition of workers’ seniority, overtime pay after eight hours worked, and paid time off.


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SEIU Illinois State Council Endorses J.B. Pritzker for Illinois Governor

J.B. Pritzker walked the strike like and spoke at the Veracare Nursing Home strike in Berwyn in January 2018.

J.B. Pritzker walked the strike like and spoke at the Veracare Nursing Home strike in Burbank, IL in January 2018.



Pritzker Will be the Progressive Leader Working Families Need in Springfield

CHICAGO – The SEIU Illinois State Council is proud to endorse J.B. Pritzker for Illinois governor.

“The janitors, health care and home care workers, security officers, social service workers, adjunct faculty, doorstaff and more of SEIU know J.B. Pritzker will be the leader working families need in Springfield,” said SEIU Illinois State Council Vice President Greg Kelley. “From his pledge to raising the Illinois minimum wage to $15 to his strong support for expanding affordable healthcare and child care, J.B. has demonstrated his commitment to stand up for our state’s working families.”

“By every single metric, Bruce Rauner is a complete disaster for working people,” said SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff. “Stagnant wages, tepid economic growth, ballooning debt, attacks on working people and a steadfast refusal to do the basics of his job are just a few examples of his failed record and leadership.”

“Illinois working families deserve better than a right-wing ideologue like Bruce Rauner. The working people of the labor movement, including 150,000 SEIU members, are ready to defeat Bruce Rauner in November.”




The SEIU Illinois State Council represents more than 150,000 working people, including home care and child care providers, security officers, janitors, as well as public employees, medical professionals, first responders and social service workers. SEIU members are winning better wages, health care, and more secure jobs, while ensuring that working people, not just the wealthy and well-connected, benefit from today’s economy.

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Rauner to Appeal Decision on 48-cent Raises for Personal Assistants

Last week, we reported that a Cook County Judge sided with us, ruling that Gov. Rauner broke the law by refusing to release our 48-cent raises and our back pay that’s owed since August 5, 2017. The judge ordered that Rauner pay it out by today, March 21. 

Unfortunately, Rauner has no interest in doing the right thing or following the law, so he is appealing the Judge’s decision. The Rauner administration has also asked the Judge to stay the Court’s ruling pending appeal, and the Judge has granted a temporary stay while the Court considers the request. This means our back pay and the implementation of our raises will be delayed again.  

The first hearing on Rauner’s request to stay the decision pending appeal is scheduled for April 16 and we are ready to fight to ensure that our rights are protected! These raises belong to us and we are going to make sure we get every penny that we are owed.

In the meantime, take action by clicking here and signing the petition to Governor Rauner demanding that he stop these delays and pay out our raises!

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ICYMI: “SEIU Came Out Strong” in Last Night’s Election

Progressive Candidates and Progressive Issues Win Big

union and I vote

(March 21st, 2018, Chicago) – This year’s roster of progressive candidates and progressive issues shaped the outcome of this year’s democratic primary and demonstrated conclusively that a forward-looking and bold working families’ agenda won big in Illinois.

Up and down the ballot whether they were races fought statewide, or State House and Senate contests, in Cook County, and for Congress the progressive movement showed up at the polls and made a definitive statement.  As WGN’s election night coverage noted, “SEIU came out strong.” Of the 34 SEIU Healthcare Illinois’ endorsements the Union’s preferred candidates won 31 races – see the list of winners below.

  • Election Night Victory Kwame Raoul_580State Senator Kwame Raoul, who was endorsed by our Union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and the SEIU State Council, won for Attorney General. SEIU members praised Sen. Raoul stating that “he will fight for [working families] and our core values of economic, racial and immigrant justice for all, not just the powerful few.”  Voters chose Raoul knowing he will stand as a last line of defense for working families and the most vulnerable in our society who are easy targets of the regressive Trump agenda.
  • B. Pritzker won the democratic primary with State Representative Juliana Stratton as his running mate. During his victory speech on election night, Pritzker strongly supported raising Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour. He also endorses the Fair Tax, a common sense policy that simply asks that those who earn more income should pay more in taxes to invest in Illinois and protect education and vital services.  Pritzker “walked a day” in a low-income child care worker’s shoes and joined our nursing home worker on the strike line.


  • Election Night Victory Ram Villivalam_580Our former colleague and SEIU Healthcare Illinois advocate, Ram Villivalam, handedly won his State Senate race in the 8th district by defeating a 20-year incumbent. Ram ran an amazing campaign that lifted up issues affecting working families, such as protecting the state’s home healthcare program for seniors and those living with disabilities as well as the child care program. Ram proved his leadership by building a broad-based coalition across his district.
  • Delia Ramirez’s victory in the 4th House district, to replace Rep. Cynthia Soto who decided not to run for re-election, showed that a grassroots champion who rejected machine and special interest politics can still win and win big. Ramirez’s leadership on women’s issues, fighting for working moms and child care workers in particular, gave voters a clear look into her passion and authenticity.
  • Lamont Robinson won the 5th House district by defeating Ken Dunkin, who sought to reclaim his former House seat after losing his last election to Juliana Stratton. (Ms. Stratton joined J.B. Pritzker’s ticket at the Lieutenant Governor which precluded her for running for re-election in the 5th district).  Dunkin, whose race in 2016 was heavily funded by Gov. Rauner’s money, lost by a landslide yet again.
  • Jesus “Chuy” Garcia easily won his Congressional race in the 4th district to replace Luis Gutiérrez who decided not to seek re-election and to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Garcia won by a remarkable margin of 66% of the vote.
  • In the Cook County 1st district race, Brandon Johnson, a public school teacher, Chicago Teachers Union leader, and community activist beat Commissioner Richard Boykin. Johnson’s grassroots campaign focused on investing in communities, lifting wages for working families, and protecting vital services.

And although she fell short, Marie Newman built a formidable grassroots coalition and came extremely close to defeating long term incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski, an extremely conservative “blue dog” democrat who opposed the Affordable Care Act, a woman’s right to choose, among other key progressive values. Newman’s remarkable race gave her a significant platform on issues she cared about, raised her profile, and paved the way for future advocacy fights for constituents in the district.

Taken together, these election results show that there is a deep hunger for leaders who are willing to fight for a fair economy that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy and special interests that is epitomized by Gov. Rauner.

Last night showed that progressive candidates are willing to fight to raise wages for all workers and protect vital services that support families, children, seniors, and adults with disabilities. It also showcased new leaders from all levels of government and offered new energy and dynamism.

Governor Raunewr FailOne of the key headlines is that Gov. Rauner, even with all his money and the advantages of incumbency, barely won against Representative Jeanne Ives, 51.4% to 48.6%. And the total number of voters garnered by Rauner, a mere 361,301, was only slightly more than Sen. Daniel Biss’ total votes at 337,342 who came in second with 26.6% in the democratic primary.

This is proof that the voters see Rauner as a failed Governor and is a wounded and desperate candidate heading into November.

With President Donald Trump and Governor Bruce Rauner’s extreme and irresponsible agendas on the ballot in November, there has never been a starker contrast between the conservative and progressive visions for Illinois and for our country.

Last night’s primary results proved that progressives are on the march and should show no fear pushing a bold working families’ agenda and advocating for fundamental changes that will set Illinois on a better and more prosperous course.



Attorney General Kwame Raoul- WON

Illinois Senate

8th district Ram Villivalam- WON

20th district Iris Martinez-WON

27th district Anne Gillespie-WON

Illinois House

3rd district Luis Arroyo-WON

4th district Delia Ramirez (open seat)-WON (48.3% in a 4 person race)

5th district Lamont Robinson-WON (Ken Dunkin came in 3rd)

10th district Melissa Conyears-Ervin-WON

14th district Kelly Cassidy-WON

19th district Robert Martwick-WON

24th district Lisa Hernandez-WON

27th district Justin Slaughter- WON

28th district Bob Rita-WON

29th district Thaddeus Jones-WON

30th district William Davis-WON

31st district Mary Flowers-WON

38th districts David Bonner (challenger)-LOST

76th district Lance Yednock (challenger)-WON

98th district Natalie Manley-WON

115th district Marsha Griffin (challenger)-WON


3rd district Marie Newman- LOST

4th district Jesus “Chuy” Garcia-WON

Cook County

President- Toni Preckwinkle- WON

Cook County Clerk-Karen Yarbrough – WON (uncontested)

1st district Brandon Johnson (challenger)- WON

2nd district Dennis Deer-WON

3rd district Bill Lowry-WON

4th district Stanley Moore-WON

5th district Deborah Sims- WON

6th district Donna Miller-WON

8th district Louis Arroyo-WON

12th district Bridget Degnen-WON

13th district Larry Suffredin-WON

15th district Kevin Morrison-LOST


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Victory for West Chicago Working Families as Brandon Johnson is Democratic Nominee for Cook County Commissioner Seat!

Election Night Victory Brandon Johnson_580

CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Gregory Kelley regarding the Primary Election night victory of Brandon Johnson to represent the Democratic Party in the November race for 1st District Cook County Commissioner:

“We are happy that the residents of Cook County’s 1st district will be represented by Brandon Johnson on the Democratic ticket this November for the Board of Commissioners. His victory is a rejection of austerity politics and a vote for expanded services and good union jobs.

“Brandon Johnson is a proven champion of working families because he is one of us–from his time as a social studies teacher to his active role in fighting to keep schools open in black and brown neighborhoods. We endorsed Brandon Johnson because the 1st district needs someone who has a track record of fighting for better schools, jobs, and healthcare while still making it to his children’s little league practice on time.

“We believe that Brandon Johnson is the best choice for the Cook County’s 1st District Commissioner because he will represent the people, not corporate lobbyists or the 1 percent. SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri Kansas is excited to work with Brandon through November and to have him as our Cook County Commissioner in the 1st district.”

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Ken Dunkin Soundly Rejected AGAIN; Robinson is right for the 5th House District


CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President Faith Arnold regarding the Primary Election Night victory of Lamont Robinson Jr. as the Democratic Party’s nominee for state representative of Chicago’s 5th House District:


“Voters in the 5th Illinois House district today spoke loudly and clearly against ‘bought and sold leadership’ by selecting Lamont Robinson Jr. to represent the Democratic Party in the upcoming November general election.

“Their voice was a sound rejection of former State Representative Ken Dunkin who turned his back on home child care workers in 2016 when they needed him to protect them from attacks on child care services by Gov. Rauner. He thought he could sneak back in, but voters saw through his antics.

“In Robinson, the district has an entrepreneur who believes that investing in the community is how you build the community. He is a small business owner who pays his entry-level workers $15 an hour. That’s leading by example.

Election Night Victory Lamont Robinson_580
“In addition to owning a business, Robinson is a college lecturer and son of a school teacher who connects the value of education and putting that education to good use to develop businesses and jobs. He will work hard in Springfield to make sure that every community has well-funded public schools.

“Robinson will also make sure our state’s most vulnerable have a voice in Springfield. He will be an advocate for funding for home healthcare workers and their consumers. He will stand to protect children from attacks on child care services. And he will look after our safety net hospitals that are vital for low income neighborhoods.

“SEIU Healthcare Illinois members endorsed Robinson because he represents high values for his community.”


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