Bureau of Mediation Services Rules with Minnesota Home Care Workers; Dismisses Efforts to Decertify Union

Saint Paul — With news today that the Bureau of Mediation Services dismissed the decertification attempt by the anti-union group “” for lacking sufficient support, Minneapolis home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member LaTanya Hughes shared her feelings about the latest attack on the union again falling short.

20151021_HCW_Federal_Court“The campaign to undermine the union we’ve worked so hard to build came up well short of the support they needed to trigger an election. This effort was never supported by a significant number of home care workers or the people with disabilities and seniors we serve. As the people actually affected, we all know that we need a powerful voice at the Capitol to address the home care crisis Minnesota is currently facing, and the only way we have that is by coming together,” said Hughes. “That voice, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, worked tirelessly to reach a tentative agreement with the Department of Human Services to raise wages and other benefits for home care workers. It is unfortunate that there are people who disagree with increasing wages and benefits for growing workforce by trying to decertify the union and hamper efforts for our second contract.”

Hughes continued, “I was proud to be part of the bargaining team that reached a tentative agreement that will, if it’s now ratified by union members and the legislature, make major strides forward in addressing the care crisis — a severe shortage of quality care workers because of low pay and few benefits — by raising the pay floor from $11 to $13, providing new funding for training and stipends to reward home care workers to improve their skill sets, more paid time off, two paid holidays for the first time ever, additional wage increases for workers providing care to the clients with the highest level of complex care needs, and more. We still have a lot of work to do to fix the care crisis facing Minnesota families, but I’m incredibly proud we didn’t let any distractions stop us from getting to this point where we are so close to improving the lives of tens of thousands of families all across our state.”

In dismissing MNPCA’s petition, the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) announced that the group had not turned in enough signatures seeking a new vote to decertify the union. Even in the unlikely event that all the cards submitted by the anti-union campaign proved valid, they at best came up over 5,000 workers short of the “Showing of Interest.”

Shaquonica Johnson, a home care worker from West St. Paul and Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, remembered the lengths home care workers had to go to get a chance to vote on their union, the same exact process that the anti-union forces just failed to achieve.

“I remember like it was yesterday the excitement I felt on the morning, back in July 2014, when we filed our petition with BMS to request a union election. We brought them boxes and boxes of cards – from over 10,000 home care workers, from every corner of the state, wanting to form our union. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done since then to make progress for home care workers and the people we serve. And after many months and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on anti-union mailings, slick videos, opinion pieces in the newspaper, and lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit, these anti-union groups still haven’t gotten through to even a third of the number of workers they would need to convince in order to get a new election. That should tell them everything they need to know about whether it makes sense to keep up their relentless attacks on a struggling workforce that is made up almost entirely of women. We want a union, we know we need a union, and we’re never going to let a bunch of lawyers and special interest groups take our union away from us.”

The next step with the tentative agreement will be a vote on it by union members. If approved, it would then go to the Minnesota Legislature for ratification and then signed by the Governor to go into effect on July 1st.


 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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Home Care Union Reaches Tentative Agreement with State of Minnesota

The contract, which needs to be ratified by Union members and the state Legislature, would increase wages for thousands of home care workers from $11 to $13 per hour, boost paid time off, and provide more training opportunities and new holiday pay

Saint Paul – Home care workers and clients who have been bargaining their second Union contract with the State of Minnesota announced a Tentative Agreement (TA) Thursday morning. The TA was reached late Wednesday evening after four months of negotiations. Highlights of the TA included:

  • A $2/hour increase in the wage floor, from $11/hour to $13/hour
  • Over $1m in State support for home care worker trainings
  • New stipends to reward home care workers for taking additional trainings that enable them to provide their clients with safer, higher-quality care
  • The first holiday pay for Minnesota home care workers (many of whom provide essential care on holidays that allows their clients to celebrate with their families), with time-and-a-half pay for two holidays
  • More Paid Time Off, building on the new benefit won in their first contract in 2015
  • Additional wage increases for workers providing support to clients with the highest, most complex care needs
  • An online matching registry, to help home care clients find workers and to help home care workers find clients.

HCWMeeting1_rsJim Carlisle, a disability rights advocate who has received home care services for over forty years and was a member of the bargaining team
, said the changes agreed to in negotiations  would, if ratified by the Union and legislature, represent major steps forward in addressing the care crisis thousands of families across Minnesota currently face.

“My wife and I both rely on home care workers in our day-to-day life. As the current care crisis has grown, we’ve seen the harm to families like ours across the state because of the lack of quality caregivers. I was proud to be on the Union’s bargaining team and to have a chance to help reach this tentative agreement that would raise wages, invest in training and improve benefits  to help attract and retain the quality home care workers we need now and will need even more as our population ages,” said Carlisle, who lives in West St. Paul.

Dawn Burnfin from Chisholm, a home care worker and mother of five who was also part of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team, talked about why the changes in this Tentative Agreement would, if ratified, be so important:

“I am passionate about my job and proud of the good work home care workers do keeping Minnesotans safe and in their homes. The gains in the Tentative Agreement would begin to make home care workers feel like our time, skills and work are just as important as other jobs,” said Burnfin. “I hope elected officials who aren’t yet affected by the care crisis understand it may not be long before you or your spouse or your parent will need someone to care for them. When that time comes, do you want someone well-paid and well-trained, so your loved one gets the care they deserve, or do you want someone who is just passing through until they can find some other job with decent pay and benefits? This tentative agreement is a step towards fixing the care crisis we have ignored for too long, to make sure every Minnesotan gets the care they deserve.”

If the Tentative Agreement gets ratified by Union members, it would then go to the legislature for their approval. The final step would be having it signed by Governor Dayton. The negotiations took place in the months preceding the state’s legislative session in order to ensure that legislators have the opportunity to review the terms of the proposed agreement and vote on whether to ratify it.  Carlisle shared why it is so crucial for elected officials to approve the proposed contract and take steps to address the care crisis in our state.

“My wife and I have seen the best of home care workers, some of whom became like family to us. But we’ve also experienced the trauma that comes when there are not real investments in care work. Everyone who wants and needs it should have access to good, safe care in their homes, and by ratifying this contract the Minnesota Legislature will be taking a strong step towards making that a reality. Having people with disabilities and seniors remain in our homes doesn’t just make our lives better; it also saves taxpayers millions of dollars, compared to having us in nursing homes or other institutional settings.”

The Tentative Agreement comes as groups funded by corporate special interests to undermine the democratically elected Union were dealt yet another setback. Earlier this week the Bierman v. Dayton court case, which aims to strip home care workers in the bargaining unit of their ability to come together and fight to improve the home care industry, was rejected in federal district court.



 SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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Albert Lea Bargaining Update – November 29, 2016

ALMC 2016 Barg Update #4

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Albert Lea Bargaining Update – November 18, 2016

ALMC 2016 Barg Update #3

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Home Care Members and Clients Discuss the Home Care Crisis with Governor Dayton and Lt. Gov Tina Smith

161128_HC mtg with Dayton-Smith

A group of home care members and the clients they provide care for met yesterday with Governor Mark Dayton and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to tell their personal stories about the home care crisis. Too many people with disabilities and seniors across the state are going without the care they need to stay in their homes, because of poverty wages, lack of benefits, inadequate training, and caps on hours for the workers they employ. It was a powerful, emotional, and hopeful conversation about how to fix the care crisis.




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Congratulations to the newly elected SEIU HCMN Executive Board and Officers

Congratulations to the newly elected SEIU HCMN Executive Board and Officers:

Jamie Gulley, President
Liz Asmus, Executive Vice President
Phillip Cryan, Executive Vice President
Jigme Ugen, Executive Vice President
Lisa Weed, Executive Vice President
Lynn Carlson, Vice President – Allina
Kate Lynch, Vice President – Clinics
Sonja Lemire, Vice President – Long Term Care
Mindy Tomfohrde, Vice President – Southeast
Maxine Maxon, Vice President – Twin City Hospitals
Shaquonica Johnson, Vice President – Home Care
Sumer Spika, Vice President – Home Care
Kent Wilcox, Guard
Kamala Ramnauth, Assistant Guard
Cleveland Donazal, Trustee
Louise Duffee, Trustee
Sandy Koski, Trustee
Dan Mintey, Trustee
Melody Nordby, Trustee
Patti Fritz, Board Member – Retiree
Elsie Urman, Board Member – Retiree
Jeff Sarro, Board Member – Allina
Kaytie Elrite, Board Member – Clinics
Emma Woodward, Board Member – Long Term Care
Mary Bale, Board Member – Southeast
Bennie Cromedy, Board Member – Twin City Hospitals
Darleen Gray, Board Member – Home Care
Francis Hall, Board Member – Home Care
Debra Howze, Board Member – Home Care
LaTanya Hughes, Board Member – Home Care
Cortney Phillips, Board Member – Home Care
Robin Pikala, Board Member – Home Care
Corey Van Denburgh, Board Member – Home Care
Jan Wirpel, Board Member – Home Care
Bri Bernini, Board Member – At Large
Rajib Bhattarai, Board Member – At Large
Charlie Butter, Board Member – At Large
Brian Elliott, Board Member – At Large
Yankuba Fadera, Board Member – At Large
Mark Freeman, Board Member – At Large
Crissy Hanson, Board Member – At Large
Penny Hanson, Board Member – At Large
James Holt, Board Member – At Large
Natalie Jackson, Board Member – At Large
Russ Maloney, Board Member – At Large
Rita Mathews, Board Member – At Large
Kathy Meyer, Board Member – At Large
Katrice Newsome, Board Member – At Large
Jennifer Norgren, Board Member – At Large
Harry O’Mara, Board Member – At Large
Kia Pille, Board Member – At Large
Becky Schmitz, Board Member – At Large
Johnnie Smith, Board Member – At Large
Vivian Strauman, Board Member – At Large
Marty Zahn, Board Member – At Large

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Home Care Training: CPR Payments

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Open Letter to Allina from President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota

With the nurses strike reaching a third week, comments made by Allina’s CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler about the health insurance they want to take from the nurses has become a focal point of the battle. Speaking on television, radio and earlier this week in a full-page ad in the Star Tribune, Dr. Wheeler has been referring to one of the Allina core plans as an important example of high road collaboration with one of their Unions. We, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, are that Union, and we want to set the record straight about how we created the Allina First plan and why Allina’s current management, under CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler, cannot be trusted when it comes to health insurance.

In 2008, under a previous management at Allina, our Union and Allina were bargaining under a formal labor-management collaboration called the Strategic Alliance. The Alliance had emerged from years of battles over insurance, starting in 2003 when SEIU members at Allina who made as little as $11 per hour were charged close to $600 per month for family insurance. In 2008, we made a major step forward for our members by negotiating the Allina First plan, which is what Dr. Wheeler keeps referencing. We called it the Allina First plan because members were expected to use the Allina network first before seeking other providers. We also convinced Allina management that they could save millions of dollars in prescription drug prices by eliminating all co-pays from generic drugs. The result of this collaboration was better coverage for our members, with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs for most members. Allina gained new patients from this insurance pool, saved money on drug costs as members overwhelmingly chose generic over name-brand drugs, and was so pleased it introduced the plan to all of Allina. For SEIU members and Allina this truly was a win-win.

During this period of partnership, our Union also collaborated with Allina on more than 50 other projects to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction scores. Our efforts helped Allina save money across these projects and our members felt good that our ideas were taken seriously. We were able to make a difference for our own families, for patients and even for Allina’s bottom line.

Allina has changed under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership. In 2015, Allina unilaterally cancelled our labor-management partnership. Today at Unity Hospital, there are 345 SEIU members who voted to join the Union and after a year of negotiating want nothing more than to be added to the same Allina First plan that is offered to SEIU members across the rest of Allina. Dr. Wheeler has refused. The only health plan they are willing to discuss to with these workers is one with out-of-pocket costs that are higher by thousands of dollars per year and where each employee is charged a premium based on the results of health tests.

Service workers at Unity Hospital are charged more per month in premiums than SEIU members at nearby Mercy Hospital, which Allina is merging with Unity Hospital as “one hospital two campuses.” Why, after more than a year of bargaining, is Allina still refusing to agree to give Unity Hospital workers the same plan Dr. Wheeler is now praising as a reason for nurses to end their strike? It seems that on many fronts Allina wants complete control of their health plans so they can make changes that boost Allina’s profits at the expense of employees.

For many SEIU members, the Allina First plan was a big step forward, achieved through bargaining, not unilateral change. Dr. Wheeler’s rhetoric about Union collaboration refers to an era that she herself has decided to end. Neither nurses nor the community should be fooled by her talking points. If Allina, under Dr. Wheeler’s leadership, were honestly collaborating with Unions there wouldn’t be a strike and SEIU members at Unity would have a contract with the same Allina First insurance that Dr. Wheeler has been praising. We stand in full support of the nurses in their strike and call on Dr. Penny Wheeler to offer the SEIU members at Unity Hospital the same Allina First plan she has been praising so publicly.

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Zoo Day Tickets

Zoo Day tickets are no longer available online. Tickets can be purchased at the Minnesota Zoo entrance on Sunday, August 14th.

SEIU Zoo Day is limited to full SEIU members & their immediate families only, up to 10 tickets. Member must be present with the party to be admitted. Tickets will cost $2 per person with free entry without ticket for children under 3.

Phone your union if you are scheduled to work that day, but your immediate family wishes to attend. If your party exceeds 10, the SEIU member may purchase additional tickets for $6.00 each.

Zoo event is not available to fair share fee payers.
Food and beverages can be purchased at the zoo or you may bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic area.

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Union Files Formal Complaint on Mayo Outsourcing Plan, Highlight Apparent Conflict of Interest by Executive

Call for full public investigation and reversal of outsourcing decision

Rochester, Minn — SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, the union that represents many of the food service workers that Mayo wants to outsource to a multi-national corporation, filed a formal complaint Monday regarding an apparent conflict of interest that was not disclosed when Mayo announced the plan on June 30th. The formal complaint, called a “grievance,” was filed with Mayo on Monday, August 1st.

The Union is prepared to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board if Mayo executives attempt to cover up or withhold any information about this apparent violation.

The grievance alleges the decision was “primarily influenced by food services administrator Carol Gorman. The Union believes Carol Gorman has a conflict of interest due to a long standing personal relationship with a Morrison executive.” The grievance is based on Mayo’s conflict of interest policy from its employee handbook.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley shared the indignation felt by many when this news came to light.

“We are angered that Mayo would make a decision like this, one that affects the lives of 700 families in our community, especially now that it appears the decision was made under a cloud of dubious ethics,” said Gulley. “We believe Mayo executives are already aware of the apparent conflict of interest and we are demanding that Mayo make public any initial findings from their investigation immediately. We are calling for Ms. Gorman to be relieved of her duties pending a full investigation and for the decision to outsource workers be revisited in light of this debacle for Mayo.”

The tentative agreement between Mayo and Morrison, which has not been finalized, has been met with anger and frustration from workers across Mayo and community members across Southern Minnesota. Their plan to push hundreds of loyal Mayo employees – and Rochester taxpayers — out of the company comes shortly after Mayo lobbied the state for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build the Destination Medical Center (DMC), in no small part by claiming it will bring good jobs to the area.

Hundreds of workers throughout the Mayo system have been wearing “No Subcontracting” buttons at work, and a recent full-page ad in the Rochester Post-Bulletin highlighted that the food service workers who Mayo is trying to kick off their payroll have over 5,000 years of experience in food service at Mayo, with many bringing decades of food safety expertise to their jobs. This longevity, which most doubt would be possible if the lower pay and worse health benefits of a subcontractor were brought into the hospital, helps to ensure the health and safety of patients across the Mayo system.

Food service workers, their union, and community members concerned with this plan continue to push Mayo to reconsider their decision and do what is best for patients, workers and the whole community.


SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 35,000 healthcare and long-term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care throughout the state of Minnesota.

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