On Monday, Mayo Clinic announced a $1,000 HERO pay bonus for all workers including more than 3,000 SEIU members. Mayo also reversed the pay cuts that were imposed on salaried staff earlier this year and paid back the difference. SEIU celebrates this announcement of HERO pay for essential healthcare workers who have been caring for the community throughout the COVID-19 emergency. Prior to Mayo’s announcement only one other hospital – River’s Edge in St. Peter, Minnesota has provided any HERO pay to its workers. We call on all other hospitals in Minnesota to follow this lead!
In addition, our union has negotiated a mid-contract increase to the wage scale for Surgical Techs, that will be submitted to the membership for approval.
Last week, Arbitrator Lundberg, issued a decision in a long-anticipated grievance related to hours of work and the eight-hour workday. Radiology Techs for more than 30 years have had the ability to combine their two 15-minute paid breaks into a half hour in the middle of their shift. They would then work a straight eight-hour shift without a half-hour unpaid meal period. Any member who wanted the half hour unpaid meal period could have one.
Last December, Allina unilaterally changed member schedules to require the half hour unpaid meal period, but they did not consistently provide the paid breaks. This amounted to a longer work day without added compensation. On Friday the arbitrator sustained our grievance and Allina has been ordered to reinstate the old schedules as a result. The decision affects the work schedules of more than 100 Radiology Techs. Congratulations to the members on this victory!
Congratulations to Brenda Hilbrich on her election by our Executive Board to serve as Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota! Brenda was unanimously elected to this officer position after the membership voted at the convention to reinstitute the fourth Executive Vice President position in our Constitution and Bylaws on Saturday. Brenda has served the local in many roles during her career including Organizer, Director and Chief of Staff. Brenda has helped hundreds of workers organize to join our union, bargained dozens of standard setting contracts, helped create our pioneering Member Action Center to improve our contract defenses, and established new leadership roles and opportunities beyond the traditional “steward” role for our members to grow in their leadership of our union. Leslie Frane, International Union Executive Vice President joined our board meeting to swear Brenda Hilbrich into her new position.
As Executive Vice President, Brenda will be leading the Allina and Twin City Hospital sectors of our union as we prepare to open contract negotiations for a new three-year contract.
Please join us in celebrating Brenda Hilbrich on her election as Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota!
On Saturday morning, our union convened our annual member convention virtually for the first time! Members joined from across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin for a few hours of celebration, discussion, debate and fellowship. Thank you to all members who joined us on Saturday! The theme for our convention this year was “Justice, Power and Unions for All!”
At our convention this year, members committed to an ambitious agenda to Win Justice, Build Power, and win Unions for All working people. Members also approved a special dues assessment in the event of an open-ended strike and approved a change to our bylaws to increase the number of officers to five. For more information about the convention or the program that was adopted please see the convention page of our website: seiuhcmn.org/convention2020
Minneapolis & Shakopee – Just days after healthcare workers announced they overwhelmingly voted to authorize an unfair labor practice strike, Allina declared that it will take legal action regarding any picketing during the strike. In other words, Allina is now arguing that the frontline, essential healthcare workers going on strike cannot legally picket. Although the Union believes that Allina’s legal theory defies common sense and has no merit in any event, the Union is postponing the strike out of an abundance of caution. A new strike date will be announced in the near future.
In response to the news, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley released the following statement:
“We have never seen an employer use this tactic before. It is stunning to see the lengths Allina is apparently willing to go to stop frontline healthcare workers from standing up for safe working conditions for healthcare workers who take care of Minnesota families. This would be beyond the pale during normal times, but seeing how far they are seemingly willing to go to stop healthcare workers from standing up for what is right during a global pandemic is hard to fathom,” said Gulley. “Out of an abundance of caution we are postponing this strike, but these ridiculous stall tactics are only serving to motivate these amazing healthcare workers to stand stronger for what is right for both the workers and the patients they serve.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota
SAINT PAUL — Healthcare workers employed by Cerenity Humboldt Care Center in St. Paul have voted to authorize a 24-hour ULP strike starting at 7 a.m. on July 20th as talks have broken down for a new contract. Despite employees working around the clock to keep residents and staff safe, management continues to push for proposals that not only don’t respect the essential work being done by workers, but actually in some cases would move people backwards.
A majority of members voted to reject the employer’s proposals and hold a 24-hour strike on July 20th starting at 7 a.m.. There are currently no bargaining dates set between now and July 20th. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents 85 healthcare workers who do work as Cooks, Housekeepers, Janitors, Nursing Assistants, Laundry Aides, Dietary Aides, and Restorative Aides.
The two sides bargained 7 times over six months and remain divided on key issues like:
Healthcare workers demand for 5.25% pay increase to respect this critical work (workers currently start under $15 per hour)
Protecting sick pay for healthcare workers on the front line of a pandemic (employer proposal to roll back sick pay)
Respecting long-term employees (union proposes workers with over 30+ years experience not having to work weekends)
Stopping employer plan to restrict leaves of absences
Rhonda Little, who has been a cook at Cerenity for over 5 years and is a member of the SEIU Healthcare MN negotiating team, shared why she voted to strike.
“We’ve been bargaining for six months and management just doesn’t seem to want to negotiate. During this pandemic we’ve kept COVID away from our patients and it is time our facility steps up to respect our work. We only can put up with so much. We have lost so many employees because of turnover but they don’t want to give us a fair raise and they are talking about taking away paid sick time,” said Little. “My department lost 17 people in the last year, many because our pay is some of the lowest around for our work. St. Paul minimum wage is going up towards $15 and people starting here don’t even make $15. Enough is enough. We want them to realize that we are tired of not being taken seriously. By going on strike, we are standing together and standing up for ourselves.”
The strike will come on a national “Strike for Black Lives” day of action that will see action in over 25 cities from the essential workers – including fast-food, hospital, airport and nursing home workers – who are putting their lives on the line every single day during a global pandemic. These workers are risking it all without being provided enough PPE, sick days or other protections, many for less than $15/hr. Workers are standing up because they have to report to work even as they watch co-workers get sick, terrified they’ll bring the virus home to their families, because they can’t miss a paycheck.
The day will see working people from all backgrounds — Black and white, Latino and Asian, First Nations and immigrants — coming together to demand justice and make this a place where all of us have our rights respected.
In Minnesota the nursing home workers will join together with airport workers at MSP who are fighting for a $15 minimum wage at MSP. The Cerenity members will hold a rally at the picket line (public sidewalk outside 514 Humboldt Ave, Saint Paul) at 10 a.m. before joining a car caravan to MSP, highlighting workers in different sectors joining together in the fight for economic and racial justice. A formal advisory with exact time and location for the two events will be sent out in the coming days.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota
As Minnesota grapples with the need to address racial disparities, protest shines a light on how racism and sexism continue to degrade the home care workforce that is 90 percent women and disproportionately women of color
SAINT PAUL – Nearly 60 cars and dozens of wheelchairs took to the streets Wednesday afternoon in front of the Minnesota Capitol demanding action on the home care crisis that is hurting thousands of families across the state. Despite bipartisan support, legislation that would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic has failed to pass during the original legislative session and the subsequent special session. House Democrats passed versions of the rate increase, as part of larger COVID related packages, in both the regular and special session. In their demands for a living wage and basic benefits, workers and clients call for a change to the exploitative history of disabled people and those who care for them.
Because of the low wages and benefits, there is a “care crisis” in Minnesota that left over 8,000 unfilled positions before COVID-19, which means seniors and people with disabilities aren’t able to get the care they need to safely stay in their homes. The protest called out how the whole care system was built on racism and sexism that continues to degrade the home care workforce that is 90 percent women and disproportionately women of color as Minnesota grapples with racial disparities that are some of the worst in the nation.
One of the speakers was Brittanie Wilson, a self-advocate and a client who has received PCA services for over 15 years. Wilson talked about the frustration that inaction is causing thousands of Minnesotans and how the recent uprising following George Floyd’s murder have showcased how issues are connected.
“Societal beliefs say that we’re not worthy of accommodations because they cost too much and that we’re burdens. Societal beliefs say that PCAS don’t deserve a livable wage or access to PPE, all because those they serve aren’t worth it. But society and our lawmakers can’t hide behind these excuses anymore. If we want any chance at real change then we must make our lawmakers understand that they are hurting us and our caregivers by not doing their job and passing this bill,” said Wilson. “I’d also like to remind everyone that half of the black lives that are lost due to police brutality are disabled people. As a brown woman I am here, ‘your fight is our fight and Black disabled lives matter!’”
Another speaker at the event was Adrienne Kleinman, a Minneapolis resident who uses her voice to inspire change and bring perspective to those around her. Kleinman has used a wheelchair since she was 3 years old and at the event she shared the hurt and anger as she’s feeling from the PCA Emergency Bill not being passed.
“I use a motorized wheelchair due to having a form of muscular dystrophy. I am totally reliant on others to assist me with grooming, showering, positioning, cooking, cleaning, organizing, errands, and all of the minute and major things that you must do for yourself in a day. I can not do any of those things without another human being present. I struggle recruiting the folks to help me do any of the previously mentioned things because they don’t think $13.25 an hour is worth it,” said Kleinman. “I’m sick of being forgotten, cast aside, hidden, reduced to a body that simply isn’t worth the time or importance to help out. I’m sick of being an afterthought. Pass the PCA Emergency Bill and compensate home healthcare workers for being on the frontlines. Do your job and finish what you started!”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota brings together over 25,000 home care workers across Minnesota. Union home care workers and the clients they work for believe that every Minnesotan – no matter our race, zip code or wealth – deserve the right to live safely in our home. But right now many home care workers who provide critical service are paid as little as $13.25 with no health insurance because our leaders have refused to act.
To start the program, as the cars circled with messages like “Do Your Job” “Fund Homecare,” “Abelsim Sucks” and “Rise Up Homecare” written on their windows circled the Capitol and honked, Home care worker and Indigenous Autistic activist Jules Edwards shared what thousands of Minnesotans have been facing as legislators continue not to act.
“Homecare has been in crisis for years. The Minnesota legislature has had a bill to provide a 15% home care funding increase sitting on their desks since February, but has failed to pass it twice, despite bipartisan support! Home care work evolved out of domestic slavery and institutional disposal of disabled people. Care labor has always been paid as little as legally possible, back to when that labor was stolen,” said Edwards. “Today we face a global pandemic where disabled people are at increased risk of severe illness and death and over 80% of covid deaths are occurring in long term care facilities. We’re facing staffing shortages due to low wages and the general public shrugs their shoulders and claims that this pandemic isn’t a big deal because only the elderly and disabled are at risk. But we are not disposable. Today, we are demanding the 15% funding increase, but we know that the work doesn’t end there.”
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Pride
The month of June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Pride Month as we celebrate inclusion and equality. As an organization, we affirm our commitment to LGBTQ+ rights, celebrate the progress that has been achieved, and recognize that attitudes and injustice still remain. Pride Month is important because it marks the start of huge change within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the wider societal implications.
Please join me and read from our staff about Pride Month and the historical events that highlight progress within the LGBTQ+ movement, with recommendations on books/movies/podcasts.
As of June 15, 2020, a person’s sexual orientation is no longer a just cause of termination in all 50 states and other jurisdictions in the United States of America.
The passing of this historic supreme court judgment is a reflection point for me on the progress we have made as a country. I’m thankful for the activism of those who’ve come before me, who’ve sacrificed their lives and those who chose to come out and be visible knowing full well the consequences. You made sure we were seen. When we were seen, we were counted. Once we were counted, we became agents of change. Let’s continue to extend the support and allyship to others who remain marginalized.
Paris Is Burning
Hi co-workers. I’m bi. I’m married to a woman and open to sharing my story with any who are curious. Now and always, I’m grateful for all the brave people who came out, organized and risked so much— leading the LGBTQ movement that began before I was born and continues today. Their work has allowed me to be more freely me. We have a long way to go until all people can truly accepted as their authentic selves, free from discrimination and hate.
Here are a few reflections in honor of PRIDE month:
“Brother Outsider” a documentary about the work and life of Bayard Rustin, who organized the March on Washington.
Historically, when we finally were able to marry. My spouse and I were married June 21, 2014. This was just after I was hired by SEIU Healthcare MN. I never in a million years thought I would ever get married. Plus, we were able to be married before Vicki’s mother passed away. We have been married for six years but together for 25 years.
This pride month has been one of deep reflection. As a white, cisgendered woman, my ability to be openly bisexual is only as a result of great sacrifice from those who came before me, especially the Black and Brown trans women who fought against police violence at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969 (Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera). Every day that I live my life openly with my partner, and as myself, is owed to their courage and bravery.
June 2020, just 51 years after the Stonewall Uprising, I am so proud of how far we have come. Still, I can’t help but be reminded of how much further we have to go. Just days before George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis Police Department, Tony McDade, a Black transgender man, was murdered by Tallahassee police. Tony is one of many Black trans people who have lost their lives to state and vigilante violence.
This Pride, I am proud to see so many amazing LGBTQIA+ activists who are loudly calling for the world we need to create. A world that would have kept Tony McDade safe. This is a world free from police, a world free from prisons, and a world free from violence because of the identities a person holds. This Pride, more than any Pride in my memory, another world feels possible.
Book Recommendation: Against Equality
TV Show Recommendation: “Pose” on FX (and Netflix!)
Organizations to Support: Reclaim!; Outfront; The Aliveness Project
Tenzin, Krystal, Julie and Elise
345 Randolph Avenue, Suite 100
Saint Paul, MN 55102