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Union Home Care Workers Reach and Surpass $15 Minimum Wage in Tentative Agreement For Contract With State of Minnesota

SAINT PAUL — Home care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with the State of Minnesota early Saturday morning, after more than 18 hours of bargaining, for their fourth union contract, including winning a $15.25 minimum wage for all home care workers in the second year of the two-year contract that would begin in July of 2021.

LaTanya Hughes is a home care worker in Minneapolis, Vice President of the Union and mother of two children who rely on care services. As a member of the bargaining team, she shared what these steps would mean for thousands of caregivers across the state:

IMG_0476“By raising wages it feels like our state is finally starting to recognize the importance of this job, done mostly by women and women of color, and getting closer to paying us the living wage this work deserves. Higher pay for this critical work is long overdue so caregivers won’t have to work so many hours just to survive,” said Hughes. “Not having to spread myself so thin would mean I can give better care to my clients instead of having to take on more and more clients just to pay the bills. This wage increase would not just help me as a home care worker, but also allow me to be able to find home care workers to help care for my two daughters who require care. I am incredibly proud of our bargaining team working so hard to get this tentative agreement. I also appreciate that Governor Walz has taken the time over the last two years to learn about home care workers and the struggles we are facing and thank him for following through on his commitment to lifting up the value of our work caring for seniors and people with disabilities.”

The full details of the tentative agreement, which covers over 20,000 home care workers across the state, are currently being shared with members who will have a chance to vote on its approval in the coming weeks, but highlights include:

  • Minimum wage increased from $13.25 to $14.40 in October 2021 and to $15.25 in July 2022, a 15% increase

  • More Paid Time Off: accrual rate improved from 1 hour per 40 hours worked to 1 hour per 30 hours worked

  • Two new floating holidays paid at time-and-a-half each year, allowing home care workers to receive extra pay when their clients need care on religious holidays for the first time, and bringing the total time-and-a-half holidays in the union contract each year to 7

  • Added funding to provide trainings and $500 stipends for home care workers who complete a set of training courses to enhance the quality of care they provide to seniors and people with disabilities

  • A commitment to work together to research future options for further professionalization of the Minnesota home care workforce in the future, such as establishing a higher wage for long-time/experienced home care workers and providing better orientation to new home care workers

Dawn Burnfin, a home care worker on the bargaining team from Chisholm on the Iron Range, shared her feelings about the tentative agreement as someone who does this critical work:

“This contract gets us closer to the living wage that every home care worker – no matter where we live or what we look like – should have for doing this important work. This wage increase will mean material improvements for both the people who get the care and those of us who do this hard work every day. Lifting up this work is a win-win for both us and the state, helping to recognize this important work and also keeping people in their homes instead of expensive institutions. That was always the right thing to do, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even clearer how essential it is for people to have that option to remain in their homes and communities,” said Burnfin. “I also am excited we won two floating paid holidays, allowing us to get time-and-a-half whether it is a family event or a specific religious holiday. I’m proud we fought for and won a benefit that recognizes the diversity of our membership and allows everyone to recognize whatever religious observance or other day is most important to them.”

“Every one of us will need care for ourselves or for a loved one at some point in our lives, and when that time comes we want every Minnesotan to be able to have a professional workforce that keeps them safe and healthy,” Burnfin continued. “We’re excited to reach this agreement and look forward to working with our legislators from both parties in ratifying this contract.”

If the Tentative Agreement gets ratified by Union members, it will then go to the legislature for their approval and funding. The final step would be having it signed by Governor Walz and go into effect July 1st, 2021, with some of its economic provisions taking effect on October 1st. The negotiations took place in the months preceding budget negotiations in order to ensure that legislators have the opportunity to review the terms of the proposed agreement and vote on whether to ratify it.

Lauren Thompson, a client from Champlin who was on the bargaining team, shared the importance of this contract for people who rely on home care services to live their lives:

“Our history of paying home care workers poverty wages has meant that we’ve treated people with disabilities poorly and it means not valuing our lives. By raising wages for home care workers to something closer to a true living wage, we are helping to improve the quality of life for clients like me who rely on home care workers to live our lives. This contract is a step towards showing that Minnesota values the independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” said Thompson. “The decisions our state makes through things like our budget and this contract determine whether we recognize and respect people with disabilities and our caregivers. I am glad that our bargaining team reached a deal that moves us forward and will help thousands of families. Now I look forward to the legislature ratifying and funding this contract.”

The bargaining team — made up of home care workers, clients and family caregivers — negotiated with the state over four months to reach this agreement. Even before COVID, thousands of families across Minnesota were struggling with a care crisis causing seniors and people with disabilities not being able to find workers to provide the care that they need to stay safely in their homes.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King

MLK poster 1Each year in January we work to educate all members of our Union on the special importance of Martin Luther King to our union and the labor movement. Martin Luther King fought for the rights and dignity of all people and he also made a special effort to improve the lives of healthcare workers.

During the Civil Rights era hospital and healthcare workers were left out of the labor laws. Our work was not considered “real work” by the politicians in congress. The King family campaigned for years to ensure that hospital workers won the same right to form a union as other workers. After Dr. King’s death Coretta Scott King served as the national chairwoman of the hospital workers organizing committee, which worked to change the laws in 1976 to cover hospital and healthcare workers. Without the advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King hospital work would probably still not be considered “real work” and would be known as a low paying industry with no rights under the law, even for overtime pay. We encourage all members to take time this week to remember the King family and the impact they had on our families and to volunteer, give back or contribute to your community in remembrance this week.

We also want to recognize the members who get paid time and a half for MLK Day and encourage all members who have not yet won the holiday to organize for this important contract standard at your next negotiations.

The legacy of Dr. King is alive and his work still unfinished on many fronts. Let us take this moment to reflect on our roles in continuing the struggle for justice in our day-to-day lives. Let us remind ourselves to never become complacent or defeated in the face of destruction, racism, sexism and all other forms of oppression – but to always stand together in solidarity and to always ‘give ourselves to the struggle’ – and win!

190121_MLK legacy posterBelow is a link to one of the final speeches of his life, to the members of our sister local SEIU 1199 in New York. There is also a timeline poster of Dr. King and his legacy that members are encouraged to print and post on the union bulletin boards at your workplace.

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Bargaining begins for 4,000 members at Twin Cities Hospitals

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Retiree Council Meetings Held Monthly

210105_Retiree Council Meetings 2021

Join fellow Retiree Members as we discuss important issues affecting us like Social Security, healthcare, pension, and housing! Let’s use the collective strength
of our Union to win a secure retirement for all!

When: January 12th, 2021 at 10am
Meetings take place on the second Tuesday of each month

Where: Online via Zoom
To join the Zoom Meeting go to: https://seiuhcmn.zoom.us/j/91378521370

Please RSVP to mackenzie.flynn@seiuhcmn.org

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Guardian Angels Nursing Home Members to Receive Bonus

Congratulations to the members at Guardian Angels nursing home on winning a one-time $200 bonus from the employer for getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Our Union has taken a strong position that the COVID-19 vaccine should be voluntary for all members. This principle of voluntarism is the rule in the U.S. for as long as the vaccine is authorized for “Emergency Use”.

Guardian Angels Nursing Home management offered this one-time bonus to show their encouragement for members to get the vaccine. We applaud the bonus and hope other employers will adopt a similar approach in the near future.

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New Contract at Parkview Care Center

Congratulations to the members at Parkview Care Center on winning a great, new three-year contract! Details include:

Year One:

  • The employer will absorb all increases for monthly health and insurance premiums (6%).
  • 1.25% increase to all steps of the wage scale and 2.25% for all employees at or over the top of the wage scale.
  • The PM shift differential was increased by $0.10 to $0.55/hour.
  • The Uniform Allowance benefit increased from $0.07/hour to $0.10/hour.
  • Members won a COVID Pay “Letter of Understanding,” increasing pay by $5.00/hour for employees working in direct care for COVID residents and $2.00/hour for all other employees in a facility where there are COVID + residents.
  • Added the SEIU Health and Safety language related to exposure to infectious disease and paid time off when unable to work after a workplace exposure.
  • Clarified language in an LOU on open shift and overtime.

Year Two: 3% Wage increase for all employees.

Year Three: Contract will reopen in October 2022 to negotiate wages for year three.

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SEIU Principles and FAQ on COVID-19 Vaccine

vaccinated members-01Last month, thousands of SEIU healthcare workers around the country and in Minnesota started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine! Many members have shared photos of themselves getting the shot on Facebook and it has been a true joy seeing all of the smiles on member faces.

This week, even more members and nursing home residents will have the opportunity to receive the shot and be vaccinated. Nationally, SEIU has developed a set of principles and FAQs for the COVID-19 vaccine. They are attached to this email and shared on our website for your information. Please take a look and please consider getting the vaccine to protect yourself, your family and our community.

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SEIU Sues Monarch Nursing Home Corporation

In December, our Union filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the Monarch Nursing Home chain over their refusal to arbitrate Union grievances. For the past year, our Union has been fighting the Monarch Nursing Home chain to comply with the grievance and arbitration clause of our contracts. Because of their continued refusal to comply with the contracts, or submit disagreements to binding arbitration, we filed a lawsuit in federal court to compel their compliance with the contract. We look forward to seeing them in court and finally getting justice for SEIU members across the Monarch Nursing Home chain.

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Nursing Home Workers Win Raises at Fairview Ebenezer!

Last week, the SEIU members at Fairview Ebenezer nursing home reached a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract with significant wage increases. Please join me in congratulating the bargaining team and members at Fairview Ebenezer for this incredible settlement. Details include:

  • A new Wages Article was created to better define Union wages, step movements, differentials, leapfrogging, length of service increases, two-hour pay guarantee, on call pay and TMA differentials.
  • Wages will increase to reflect moving ahead of the Minneapolis Minimum Wage Ordinance and will include increases in every job classification on an eight-year moving scale to avoid wage compression.  To do this, all job classifications will have wage increases on January 1, 2021 and the lowest paid classifications will have an additional increase to all steps July 1, 2021.
  • There will be two wage openers: January 1, 2022 and January 1, 2023. The contract will expire December 31, 2023.
  • These classifications will receive two increases (January 1, 2021 and July 1, 2021):
    • Housekeepers/Laundry start rate will move from $13.25 to $14.25 (7.55%) and increases advance through the steps so that the 8-year step moves from the current rate of $13.68 to $15.55  (a total increase of 13.7%)
    • Custodians start rate is $13.69 and moves to $14.72 in 2021 (total increase of 7.23%) and increases advance through the steps so that the 8-year step moves from the current rate of $14.96 to $16.09 on July 1, 2021 (a total increase of 8.42%)
    • Maintenance Assistant 1 start rate will move to $13.52 January 1 and $14.50 July 1, (totaling 9.29% in 2021) and increases advance through the steps so that the 8-year step moves from the current rate of $19.93 to $21.90  (a total increase of 9.72%)
  • These classifications will get increases on January 1, 2021:
    • Central Supply start rate will move to $16.08 (increase of 10.16% in 2021) increases advance through the steps so that the 8-year step moves from the current rate of $15.71 to $17.30 (annual increase of 10.16%)
    • Maintenance Assistant II (Boiler’s License) start rate will move to $20.02 (increase of 3%) and increases advance through the steps so that the 8-year step moves from the current rate of $21.10 to $21.74 (increase of 3%)
    • Nursing Assistants start rate moves from $14.88 to $15.75 (5.8%) and in 90 days moves to $16.37 (10% increase).  Advances through the 8-year steps move to a new 8-year step to $17.78 (9.98%)
  • The scales move on anniversary dates through Step 8, at that point, all employees receive a 1% increase on their anniversary date.
  • In addition, all Employees with 10 years of service or greater receive a bonus of $300 on each anniversary.
  • There will be a new $2.00/hour differential for all hours worked as a TMA
  • The Housekeeping/Laundry weekend differential will increase to $.50/hour.
  • Shift differential times were defined.

Other changes include:

  • Removing some language referring to non-contract employees.
  • Updating Union Security to reflect SEIU has moved to the percentage dues system.
  • Small increase to Steward time with new members and moving the corresponding LOA into the body of the contract.
  • Removed duplication in Seniority language.
  • Updating the definition of the pay period.
  • Updating the language for 15-minute breaks.
  • Added language to Health and Safety to meet to discuss steps to protect workers in a pandemic.
  • Modified language to reflect IRS changes to elective cashing out some PPL and clarified the implementation in a new LOA.
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Letter to Minnesota Department of Health Vaccine Advisory Group

On Fvaccine distribution recommendations-01riday, our Union submitted a formal letter on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Minnesota. Our letter urges the state to include all healthcare workers in the first tier (1a) for vaccine distribution- including hospital, clinic and nursing home workers who are not involved in direct patient care as well as consumer-directed home care workers. Our letter advocates for all vaccine distribution be made voluntary for health care workers at this time.

Click here to read a copy of our letter.

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