If you missed our telephone town hall meetings on Thursday, August 8 for DORS Personal Assistants, you’ll find a recap below of what was discussed.
2019 Victories: Our Momentum Keeps Building!
After fighting for nearly two years, we won implementation of our $.48 raises and the release of our $30 million in back pay as well as an end to the enforcement of the dangerous overtime policy.
Now, we’re negotiating our next contract and it’s up to us to put in the work to win higher pay and better benefits that PAs need and deserve.
Our Top Bargaining Priorities
We unveiled our top bargaining priorities after receiving nearly two thousand bargaining surveys from PAs across Illinois.
Our top priorities are:
- Winning $15 an hour NOW for every PA,
- Protecting our health insurance,
- Expanding our training program,
- Winning a fair overtime policy, and
- Protecting our union from attacks and ensuring all voices continue to be heard.
SEIU Healthcare members helped lead the way to win the $15 minimum wage law that passed earlier this year, which will raise wages across Illinois incrementally until reaching $15 by 2025. Now, we’re ready to take action to ensure that every Personal Assistant earns $15/hour as soon as possible. The new state minimum wage law gives us leverage because home care jobs should not be minimum wage jobs!
Another top priority is protecting our health insurance. Thousands of PAs are eligible for our union’s deductible-free health insurance, and we are committed to continuing to fight for improvements. When PAs don’t have access to the healthcare we need to take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of our consumers. That’s why our bargaining team is ready to fight to protect our health insurance for PAs.
More than 10 years ago, we bargained with the State to provide members with paid training that would give PAs the skills we need to take care of our consumers. Protecting and expanding these trainings is another top priority. Training provides PAs with life-saving skills, knowledge of safety precautions, lifting techniques and can have a significant impact on the lives of our consumers. If you are not currently doing so, take advantage of our Helen Miller Member Education and Training Center classes. Not only are these classes free for any active Personal Assistant to take, but we fought for PAs to get paid to take these courses.
Countless PAs and consumers were negatively impacted by the dangerous overtime policy and that is why winning a fair overtime policy is also a top priority. The policy, implemented by former Gov. Bruce Rauner, took away consumer choice and forced many consumers to either find other PAs or go without services because it capped the hours that PAs were allowed to work. Thousands of PAs received occurrences under the policy and some faced suspension. Our union was victorious in reaching an agreement with Governor Pritzker to stop enforcement of the policy and rescinded all of the occurrences that PAs received under it.
PAs can now work all of the hours in their consumers’ plan of care without penalty.
Now, we’re negotiating for a fair overtime policy that will protect workers and consumers. Finally, we’re continuing to do all we can to protect our union from attacks and ensuring that all voices continue to be heard. Right-wing front groups like the Illinois Policy Institute have spent millions trying to dictate how we spend our wages. In May, the Trump administration released a new rule in an attempt to deny us our choice to join together in our union. Attacks like these are meant to stop us from sticking together to improve our jobs and the care we provide to people with disabilities. We cannot and will not let these attacks get in our way, and that’s why it’s so important that every PA update their union membership by clicking here.
This contract isn’t just about PAs, we’re also ready to fight to improve our communities so we can all thrive. Good wages, access to the healthcare, affordable housing, free quality child care, these are all things that working families need and deserve so we can live good lives. PAs who returned their contract surveys said they’re ready to stand up for the change that can transform our communities and we will use our contract fight to address these issues too.
Our victories don’t just happen – we have put in the hard work to win and we have a lot more work to do. We’re continuing to fight for improved home care programs in Illinois and aiming to win the best contract possible, and it will take all of us getting involved and taking action.
Attend an upcoming membership meeting that’s happening in your area to learn about what you can do to help us win our top priorities.