March 2018

Raoul will fight the good fight for Illinois citizens

Election Night Victory Kwame Raoul_580

CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Gregory Kelley regarding the Primary Election Night victory of State Senator Kwame Raoul to represent the Democratic Party in the November race for Illinois Attorney General:

 

“We are pleased that the Illinois electorate agrees with us, that Sen. Kwame Raoul is the best candidate to represent the Democratic Party in the November election for State’s Attorney General.

“We endorsed Sen. Raoul because we know he will fight for us and our core values of economic, racial and immigrant justice for all, not just the powerful few. In this era of Donald Trump, a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court and Republican control of Congress, Illinois needs a candidate who 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.


“We believe Sen. Raoul will be an attorney general who will fight to protect the rights of women and be their champion in combatting sexual harassment and assault that has been taking place across the workplace and even in Springfield.


“Lastly, Raoul’s experiences have shaped his philosophy on life, making him a leading progressive voice in Illinois politics and a leader on healthcare issues. Whether it’s fighting wage theft by unscrupulous employers, protecting consumers from fraud or protecting access to affordable healthcare, we know that Sen. Raoul, a cancer survivor, will represent the law that is of, for and by the people to protect the people.”


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Women’s March Momentum Continues with Delia Ramirez Win

Election Night Victory Delia Ramirez_580

CHICAGO – Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President of Collective Bargaining & Representation Jaqueline Rodriguez in response to Delia Ramirez’s victory for the Democratic Primary 4th Illinois house district:

“Today families in the 4th Illinois house district choose an independent, grassroots champion from the neighborhood in Delia Ramirez and rejected corporate special interests and machine politics. She is rooted in the community and ready to serve.

“Delia is one of the thousands of women across the country who were inspired to run by the Women’s March movement of which SEIU Healthcare helped lead. Ramirez is exactly who we need to stand up to the nearly daily attacks the working class, women, and immigrants face from Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump.

“Having led community non-profits, she understands the issues that SEIU Healthcare members face on a day-to-day basis. As the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, she understands how immigrants enrich our communities.

Our members know Delia will fight for their economic freedom. She has championed the $15 minimum wage and proudly stood alongside YMCA child care workers in her district fighting for a fair contract.

“SEIU Healthcare members will help ensure the march for progress continues on into November and beyond when Delia Ramirez is elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.”

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Sending ‘One Of Our Own’ to the IL Senate

SEIU Healthcare Illinois Applauds Ram Villivalam’s Victory in the 8th Senate District, Defeating Longtime Incumbent Ira Silverstein

As a Former SEIU Healthcare Illinois Government Relations Staffer, Workers Are Enthusiastic to Send a True Progressive to the State Senate

Who Will Fight for All Working Families

Election Night Victory Ram Villivalam_580

(March 20, 2018, Chicago) – News outlets called the 8th Senate race for Ram Villivalam who defeated longtime incumbent Ira Silverstein. In response, Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, issued the following statement:

 

“We are so proud of Ram Villivalam, a former member of our legislative staff, for his remarkable primary win tonight. Because Ram had the courage to stand up to a twenty-year incumbent who had abused his power and lost touch with everyday people, the families of the 8th district are better off.”

 

“We were excited when Ram announced his candidacy for the state senate last fall. Instead of continuing to advocate for our members and work to protect vital programs such as home healthcare, child care and other vital services, Ram recognized the opportunity to get involved and serve his district by running for office himself.  Working families across Illinois, and certainly his would be constituents, will benefit immensely by having Ram as a leader in the Senate fighting for progressive solutions.

 

“Ram ran a tough, disciplined and inclusive race that earned him important endorsements from members of Congress such as Brad Schneider, Jan Schakowsky, and Mike Quigley, as well as major endorsements from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.  They all recognized Ram’s leadership abilities, intelligence, hard work ethic, and in-depth knowledge of the issues.

 

“Ram Villivalam’s victory is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing and campaigning. With respect to the #MeToo movement, Ram rightly said “women need to be believed. And men need to be held accountable.” Ram is a strong supporter for solutions to preventing gun violence. He is a forceful advocate to defend a women’s right to choose, protect the environment, and provide access to quality and affordable healthcare – issues that earned him strong support and endorsements from Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Sierra Club, and SEIU’s State Council.

 

“As an advocate for our own SEIU members, Ram was a key leader fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to stop Gov. Rauner’s extreme agenda to slash vital services. The list of issues and fights that Ram contributed to on behalf of our members are simply too many to count.

 

“We have faith in the voters that Ram will win his election in November. And when he finally takes the oath of office, working families in Illinois, especially his constituents in the 8th district, will benefit immensely from his ideas, passion, and dedication to finding solutions to solving Illinois’ biggest challenges such as income inequality and demanding fairness for workers.

 

“That’s why we feel a special pride in our hearts for Ram Villivalam to know that ‘one of our own’ won a key senate race tonight.”

 

 

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J.B. & Juliana will make Illinois proud

CHICAGO–The following statement was released by SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Greg Kelley on the victory of J.B. Pritzker in the Democratic Primary Election for governor:

“SEIU Healthcare Illinois congratulates J.B. Pritzker as the Democratic Party’s nominee to take on Bruce Rauner in the November general election for governor. Voters would be well served to send J.B. to Springfield.

“J.B.’s track record on service to communities of this state are impressive. Unlike Bruce Rauner, J.B. has invested in making the lives of the middle class and the poor better, not the interests of the corporate rich and the wealthy 1 percent of our state.

“J.B. recognizes the devastation to social programs and the lack of access to healthcare caused by Rauner’s obstructionist failure to pass a balanced budget in several years. He will make restoring the vitality of our services and the creation of jobs a top priority.

“Lastly, we believe that J.B.’s secret weapon is State Representative Juliana Stratton who will serve as his lieutenant governor. In her two years in the state legislature, Juliana has demonstrated her commitment to defending working families from Rauner’s attacks.

“She has been in front of the fight to end the budget crisis, has fought for safer communities, sensible gun control legislation and a $15 minimum wage. J.B. and Juliana can do the job that the Rauner administration has failed to do: Make Illinois a prosperous state.”

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Victory for Striking Christian Care Home Workers

After 104 Days on Strike, Christian Care Home Workers Win a Contract with Wage Increases, Favorable Health Insurance Provisions, and Seniority Protection

ChristianCareNHStrike_nickandothers celebrating_580
 

FERGUSON, MO—After 104 days on the strike line, nursing home workers at Christian Care Home are celebrating a long-fought for victory today—the settlement of a favorable contract providing for wage increases, fair provisions for health insurance coverage, seniority protection and prompt payouts of Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) and grievance settlements. While the last few months have been rocky, the Union looks forward to working cooperatively with the Christian Care Home management in the future.

 

Workers started their ULP strike on December 1st, following Christian Care management’s refusal to follow labor law. At the start of the strike, workers filed multiple ULP charges against Christian Care Home for making unilateral changes to staffing, hours and schedules, failing to provide relevant information in a timely manner, and otherwise restricting workers in the exercise of their rights.

 

As the strike progressed from days to weeks, and crept into the holiday season, management further challenged strikers’ resolve with additional unlawful acts, which resulted in workers’ having to file the additional ULP charges that Christian Care Home threatened recent hires with termination for joining the strike and denied accrued and earned benefits to striking employees.

 

“We went on strike because management wasn’t respecting our rights on the job, and then instead of doing the right thing—they showed us further disrespect,” said certified nursing assistant Brenda Davis. “I think they thought if they treated us badly enough, we would give up, but that just made us more determined to stand up for ourselves and our residents.”

 

With support from community allies, faith leaders, and elected officials, strikers braved a cold and impoverished holiday season, and reinvigorated their fight for a fair contract in the new year by marching in the St. Louis MLK Day march carrying signs invoking his legendary support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis 50 years before.

 

“From day one of their strike, I was impressed with how the workers were on the picket line not just for themselves, but for the whole community,” said Representative Bruce Franks, a vocal supporter of the strikers. “When they stood up for themselves on the job, they were demanding that they be treated with dignity and respect—and that all workers be afforded that same dignity and respect, whatever the color of their skin.”

 

Another outspoken supporter of the striking workers, Representative Cora Faith Walker, was a frequent visitor to the picket line—and made more than one visit to Christian Care management on strikers’ and residents’ behalf. “It was clear to me that workers had no choice but to go on strike given the multiple unfair labor practices they were facing,” she said. “And it was just as clear to me that management had an obligation not just to workers but also to residents to resolve these issues and treat workers fairly, so they could get back to providing care for the residents they love. I am inspired by the workers’ bravery and persistence. They won this victory, for themselves and for residents, by standing strong and not backing down.”

 

In late February, workers received a vote of confidence from another source—the St. Louis regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. The Board announced it had found merit to multiple Unfair Labor Practices the strikers had filed.

 

“We knew that the NLRB was likely to find in workers’ favor,” said Lenny Jones, Director of SEIU Healthcare Missouri, the union which represents the striking workers. “It was always a matter of timing and perseverance. Management seemed to be betting on workers giving up before Christian Care had to face any real consequences for their Unfair Labor Practices. But the strikers kept standing strong—and that meant Christian Care had to either settle a fair contract or go to trial.”

 

Tuesday, a little over two weeks after the NLRB finding in favor of the workers, strikers obtained a long-fought victory. The contract that management agreed to Tuesday, and which workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify yesterday, provides for:

  • Guaranteed raises throughout the life of the contract
  • Christian Care to pay the increase in health insurance rates for 2018, and to pay for half of any increase to insurance rates for 2019 and 2020
  • Payouts of Unfair Labor Practice and grievance settlements within 10 days
  • Respect for worker seniority as workers return to work, with striking workers returning to their original status and shift, as feasible with current facility occupation rate
  • Striking workers to be back at work by Monday, March 19

 

Elected and faith leaders, community allies, and residents’ families will join the Christian Care Home strikers on the morning of Monday, March 19, to usher them back to work after their long and eventful strike and to celebrate their hard-won victory. A advisory will be sent out soon with details on the walk-back victory celebration.

 

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28,000 Caregivers Vindicated: Court Rules Rauner Illegally Withheld $.48 Raise from Those Caring for People with Disabilities

Chicago – Late yesterday, tens of thousands of Illinois caregivers for people with disabilities received the good news they’ve waited seven months for: Governor Rauner’s move to withhold a $.48 raise that the General Assembly approved in last summer’s budget deal was illegal.

Rauner had refused to release the increase to Personal Assistants, who have not seen a raise since December of 2014 with the overwhelming majority earning only $13 an hour. The $.48 raise was supposed to have gone into effect on August 5, 2017 per state law:

 *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”

The Cook County Circuit Court’s ruling orders that the State implement the $.48 raise for all hours worked since August 5, 2017 by March 21, 2018.

Personal Assistants in the Home Services Program provide vital home care services for more than 30,000 Illinoisans with disabilities, enabling them to live at home with dignity and independence. This work saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year by avoiding costly nursing home care.

Alberta Walker, Personal Assistant and SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Board Chair released the following statement in response to the Court’s ruling:

“This decision reinforced what we have said from day one – Bruce Rauner’s choice to withhold these raises for 28,000 low-income caregivers was not only cruel, it was illegal.

“The work we do as Personal Assistants is difficult, and it is even harder when you are living in poverty doing it. Too many skilled, reliable caregivers are forced out of the home care industry due to this reality. The General Assembly’s approval of this $.48 increase recognized those two facts and were aimed at stabilizing the workforce and reducing turnover.

“We are relieved and grateful for the Court’s decision, but continue to question why Governor Rauner would waste taxpayer resources on a quest to deny a meager raise to caregivers who selflessly provide life-line services to Illinoisans living with disabilities in every county of our state.” 

State Representative Greg Harris added:

“I am thrilled for the workers who care for our most vulnerable people with disabilities. The court did the right thing in siding for the caregivers and against Rauner in another of his ploys to drive down wages for working people.”

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28,000 Caregivers Vindicated: Court Rules Rauner Illegally Withheld $.48-cent Raise from Those Caring for People with Disabilities

 Chicago – Late yesterday, tens of thousands of Illinois caregivers for people with disabilities received the good news they’ve waited seven months for: Governor Rauner’s move to withhold a $.48-cent raise that the General Assembly approved in last summer’s budget deal was illegal.

Rauner had refused to release the increase to Personal Assistants, who have not seen a raise since December of 2014 with the overwhelming majority earning only $13 an hour. The $0.48-cent raise was supposed to have gone into effect on August 5, 2017 per state law:

 *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”

The Cook County Circuit Court’s ruling orders that the State implement the $.48-cent raise for all hours worked since August 5, 2017 by March 21, 2018.

Personal Assistants in the Home Services Program provide vital home care services for more than 30,000 Illinoisans with disabilities, enabling them to live at home with dignity and independence. This work saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year by avoiding costly nursing home care.

Alberta Walker, Personal Assistant and SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Board Chair released the following statement in response to the Court’s ruling:

“This decision reinforced what we have said from day one – Bruce Rauner’s choice to withhold these raises for 28,000 low-income caregivers was not only cruel, it was illegal.

“The work we do as Personal Assistants is difficult, and it is even harder when you are living in poverty doing it. Too many skilled, reliable caregivers are forced out of the home care industry due to this reality. The General Assembly’s approval of this $.48-cent increase recognized those two facts and were aimed at stabilizing the workforce and reducing turnover.

“We are relieved and grateful for the Court’s decision, but continue to question why Governor Rauner would waste taxpayer resources on a quest to deny a meager raise to caregivers who selflessly provide life-line services to Illinoisans living with disabilities in every county of our state.” 

State Representative Greg Harris added:

“I am thrilled for the workers who care for our most vulnerable people with disabilities. The court did the right thing in siding for the caregivers and against Rauner in another of his ploys to drive down wages for working people.”

CHICAGO MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Who: Personal Assistants in the Home Services Program impacted by today’s decision and Terri Harkin, Vice President of the Home Care Division of SEIU Healthcare Illinois will be available for comment

Where: SEIU Healthcare Illinois, 2229 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL

When: Wednesday, March 14 at 1 p.m.

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BREAKING NEWS: Judge Says Rauner Illegally Withheld PA Raises

DORS 48 Cents GroupWe have some excellent, breaking news to share – WE WON our lawsuit against Governor Rauner regarding the $.48 raise for Personal Assistants and Maintenance Home Health workers! The judge just ruled that Rauner broke the law by illegally withholding our $.48 raises since last August 5, 2017.

The judge agreed with us that when the General Assembly passed their budget last summer and included a $.48 raise for Personal Assistants and Maintenance Home Health workers that the governor had to follow the law and pay it.

Since he refused, the State owes PAs and Maintenance Home Health workers back pay for every hour worked since August 5, 2017 when the raise was supposed to take effect, and the judge ruled today that the State must pay up by March 21, 2018.

While this is a huge victory for us, Rauner can try to appeal the judge’s order. We all know that the Rauner administration cannot be dors raises victorytrusted to do what is right or to follow the law so we are ready to continue this fight if it comes to that. 

Hundreds of PAs and consumers have taken action over the last several months to keep the pressure on Rauner and our hard work has paid off. Rauner has held our raises for seven long months and finally today we are vindicated in court. 

Congratulations to every PA and Maintenance Home Health worker. This fight may not be over so stay tuned for more updates. 

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Member Spotlight: Margie Hoffa

Margaret “Margie” Hoffa has been an active member of our union and has embodied what is possible when taking an active role in her hospital and the social justice movement.

She began her career in healthcare in Corpus Christi, TX, in the 1970’s starting in the dietary department and quickly made
the transition to the pharmacy. After several years working as a Pharmacy Technician in Texas, Margie moved back to the Kansas City area in the 90’s and continued her pharmacy career at Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, KS where she still works today.

She was promoted to the Pharmacy Buyer in 2005 and has been a valued employee at the facility. Margie was instrumental in theMargie Hoffa, MMC, Pharmacy
union drive at Menorah ensuring that her coworkers have a more even playing field with management. While Margie was active in the election campaign, she also went on leave for four months immediately after the election talking to her fellow healthcare workers about why being involved is so important. She was elected to the bargaining team for the first and second contracts and also was elected as a union steward by her coworkers at Menorah.

According to Margie, “Being on the bargaining team was one of the proudest moments I’ve had as an active union member because you are fighting for the best improvements you can for those who you work side by side with.” Margie also takes pride
in her involvement with the Fight for $15 campaign because, “It’s about raising all workers in this country up!”

Many have seen her getting involved and taking action, and as a result Margie was elected to the SEIU HCII Executive Board and has been a dedicated advocate for workers in Missouri. As part of her duties on the Executive Board, she helps to advise and direct the overall policy of our union.

Margie has done it all –from volunteering on campaigns, assisting in union organizing drives, attending lobby days, and representing us in meetings in New York and California.

If there is any wisdom that Margie would like to pass on to other union members or potential members, it is that ‘people need to get involved’ and ‘you need to know your contract’ so you can be prepared to act in the best interest of yourself and your co-workers.

Besides being an active member of the union, Margie is also a mother of two and has a new grandson Owen out in Colorado. When not protecting her fellow workers’ rights, she can be found listening to the cheering crowd at Royal’s games and enjoying time with her pets. Margie is a great example of what is possible when a member gets involved to lead our union and sets the standard in Kansas City.

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Member Spotlight: Shirley Caston

One of member leader Shirley Caston’s favorite sayings is that “A closed mouth never gets fed.”

These are words that Caston’s mother imparted to her years ago, and she has held them close ever since as a reminder that a person should always speak up for what they need and for what is important in life.

Shirley is a 31-year employee in the medical industry spending time working as a Rehab Tech, a Patient Care Tech, and now in her current position of 16 years as a GI Lab Technician at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. Shirley is also an active member in her union, serving as a shop steward and as a member of the bargaining team for three contract campaigns.

“I understand the union difference because I remember how it was before we won our union at RMC,” said Shirley Caston. “For
example, our performance reviews were always low no matter how good an employee you were because they were tied to wages.
Now we get fair reviews and guaranteed raises in our contract! We also have real voice in decisions that impact patient care matters and allows us to make things better.”

When talking to Shirley about what makes her so passionate about her being involved in our union she says that it is learning
about politics and then being able to educate those in her community and at her church.

“I really enjoy taking part in the Fight For $15 activities because I wasn’t old enough to participate when the civil rights movement
was happening. Now I too am part of something that generations after ours will benefit from.”

Speaking of the next generation, Shirley is a grandmother of five and spends as much time as she can with her grandchildren. She loves taking them to the park or out to bowl, and enjoys some competitive dominoes with them too. Shirley is also a proud fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, watching the games with family and friends.

Shirley Caston is an active participant in her family life and her union life because as she puts it, “You can’t sit around and wait for someone to fix it for you!” This is advice that she would give to any new union members.

And Shirley doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk too, helping out on important union campaigns from Chicago to  California knocking doors and talking to fellow healthcare workers about issues she holds dear.

Thank you for your leadership, Shirley Caston!

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