Vowing to be ‘Invisible No More,’ workers prepare to vote on forming union, seeking better pay and respect for their work and improved home care for recipients
St. Paul, MN – Personal care assistants and direct support professionals gathered today with home care clients and supporters at the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services to announce their filing for an election to form a statewide home care workers union. Thousands of home care workers signed cards in support of forming a union so they can win improvements to their jobs and to the care they provide for elderly and disabled Minnesotans.
“My partner, Nicole, needs PCA support 24 hours a day. With the help of several other PCAs, I work every day to see that she gets the care she needs to accomplish her goals,” said Tyler Frank, a home care worker from New Hope. “Because of the high turnover of Nicole’s workers and the extra work their absence leaves for me, I often have to support Nicole at the expense of my own aspirations. We need to recognize the importance of home care work and make it a stable career – that will improve the stability of my life and Nicole’s life.”
“I’ve been a home care worker for the last 15 years, and I decided to go into nursing to help those around me live healthier, longer lives, but because of the current conditions of the work, I’ve suffered myself,” said Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from Brooklyn Park. “I had a hysterectomy and went to work the following day because missing work means that my children do not eat. I am here today because for too long, the work I and over 26,000 other Minnesotans do for a living – the work of caring for our neighbors, keeping seniors and people with disabilities in their homes and communities – has been made invisible, and when we win our union, we will finally be invisible no more.”
“We are coming together because we know that in other states where home care workers have formed a union, they have won significant wage increases, access to benefits and training opportunities, and most importantly, a voice in the state decisions that affect them,” said Darleen Henry, a home care worker from Rosemount.
People with disabilities who receive home care services also spoke about why they strongly support home care workers coming together to form a union. “When home care workers are struggling to survive, having to work multiple jobs and still barely able to feed their own family, families like mine see first-hand the hardship that causes, both for their lives and for ours,” said Nikki Villavicencio, a home care recipient from Maplewood. “The high turnover in the field, from the low pay and lack of benefits, causes turmoil for families. The current conditions often make me wonder, why is this field so undervalued? Why is it the workers who support my family are treated as if they are invisible? My family knows that when home care workers win their union, it will help not only them, but us as well.”
The filing will trigger a union election to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which will be administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services; with over 26,000 eligible voters, it will be the largest union election in state history. Voting will take place by mail, with ballots expected to go out later this summer. Home care workers have been organizing to improve their jobs and Minnesota’s home care programs for years, and won the right to form a union under state law last year.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 15,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota. SEIU represents more than 30,000 members across Minnesota and is a powerful voice working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.