Press Releases

Senator Eaton, Representative Nelson Introduce Home Care Workforce Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2013
Contact: Kate Brickman | 612-460-1219
Media Relations Coordinator | SEIU MN State Council

Bill to address looming workforce crisis introduced in House and Senate

St. Paul, MN – Today Senator Chris Eaton introduced S.F. 665 and Representative Michael Nelson introduced H.F. 844, a bill that would address the looming workforce crisis in our state’s public home care programs, by giving home care workers the right to form a union.

“We are facing a massive shortage of workers to care for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Representative Nelson. “As the Baby Boomers age, there is going to be a strain on our state’s long-term care system. We must ensure there are enough workers to help people retire with dignity.”
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Governor Dayton, Legislative Leaders Join Working Minnesotans to Call for Action in Health Care, Education and Living Wages

Contact: Kate Brickman, SEIU Media Relations Coordinator
kbrickman@seiumn.org | 612-460-1219

Home care workers applaud Senator Eaton and Representative Nelson at SEIU Lobby Day Rally for their bill to give home care workers the right to form a union

St. Paul, MN – Before a group of hundreds of working Minnesotans at the State Capitol, Speaker of the House Paul Thissen applauded Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Mike Nelson, co-authors of a bill that would give home care workers the right to form a union.

“Our state is facing a looming workforce crisis in our public programs providing home care to seniors and people with disabilities,” said Speaker Thissen. “If we’re going to attract and retain enough workers, we should pay them a competitive wage. The work they do is invaluable and helps keep thousands of Minnesotans living independently in their homes, rather than expensive nursing homes and other institutions. Home care workers should have the right to form a union, just like anybody else, so they can improve the quality of care for our family, our friends and our neighbors.”

Darleen Henry, a 23-year-old home care worker from Rosemount, also spoke at Wednesday’s rally. Her mother suffered a series of strokes, and Henry cares for her so she can stay at home – Henry works three jobs at 70 hours a week, yet has no benefits.

“I could have easily suggested her going into a nursing home but I knew if I were in her shoes, leaving my own home before I needed to would be heartbreaking, let alone extremely expensive,” said Henry. “She did have to be in assisted living for two weeks after a surgery – she hated and complained the whole time. She had never been so miserable in her life.”

Henry joined other home care workers in thanking Senator Eaton and Representative Nelson, who will introduce a bill Thursday giving home care workers in self-directed programs the right to form a union. These home care workers joined hundreds of working Minnesotans at the Capitol Wednesday as part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Minnesota School Employees Association (MSEA) Lobby Day. The members provide care and support for Minnesota families in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings.

Following individual meetings with legislators, workers gathered in the Rotunda for a rally headlined by Governor Dayton, legislative leaders and members, rallying around reinstating the general education levy, implementing the Affordable Care Act through an active exchange, and increasing the minimum wage to keep up with inflation.

“We’re going to build a fair tax system and invest in what is important to Minnesotans,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk. “That starts by reinvesting in our K-12 schools.”

“Our goal is to offer quality, affordable health care to all Minnesotans,” said Senator Tony Lourey. “We have been given a great opportunity to work with the federal government to achieve that goal and we should take advantage. With the Medical Assistance bill already signed into law and the exchange legislation moving through the committee process, we are making great strides this session to improve our health care system.”

“Economic development in Minnesota starts with you and your families,” said Representative Ryan Winkler. “The work you do to support your family is the economic engine that drives Minnesota.”

“The right to organize should be a basic right,” said Representative Patti Fritz. “We should not be living paycheck to paycheck.”

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SEIU is the union of workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, child care, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Health Care Workers Applaud Medical Assistance Expansion as Governor Signs Bill Into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 19, 2013
Contact: Kate Brickman, SEIU Media Relations Coordinator,
kbrickman@seiumn.org | 612-460-1219


SAINT PAUL, MN – Health care workers across Minnesota are sending their thanks to Governor Dayton and state leadership for the bi-partisan bill which expands the state’s Medical Assistance program, providing quality health coverage for an additional 35,000 uninsured Minnesotans at virtually no cost to the state.

Governor Dayton signed the bill into law earlier today, joined by authors of the bill, state Sen. Kathy Sheran, state Rep. Tom Huntley, state Sen. Jeff Hayden, state Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, and state Rep. Diane Loeffler.

The bill takes advantage of federal funding available to states as they implement the Affordable Care Act. By signing the bill into law, the state will save a projected $129 million over the next two years. It also helps connect more low-income adults with comprehensive, affordable care. This will help reduce uncompensated care and the use of emergency care services by the uninsured, which drive up costs for everyone, and it will increase the cost-effective use of preventive care and other services which keep low-income Minnesotans healthy.

“The hardest part of my job is not the patients I see. The hardest part is the patients I have to turn away because they do not have insurance.  Over the years, I have seen too many bodies and lives ruined by lack of insurance,” said Lynn Carlson of Oak Grove, a Licensed Practical Nurse at Phillips Eye Institute and a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota’s Executive Board.

“Today marks the culmination of the Governor’s efforts to expand Medicaid,” said Maxine Maxon, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member. “I was proud an SEIU member stood together with Governor Dayton on his first day in office, when he extended Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income Minnesotans through the Affordable Care Act, and we as a Union are proud again today. Because health care workers have engaged in grassroots politics throughout the state, thousands more Minnesotans will have secure access to comprehensive, affordable health care. This bill also reflects a good partnership with the federal government, by bringing new resources to Minnesota that benefit the state’s economy.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 17,000 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.

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MEDIA ADVISORY for February 20: Working Minnesotans to Rally at Capitol, Say ‘The Time is Now’ to Invest in a Brighter Future

Governor Dayton and State Leadership set to address SEIU and MSEA members at rally for annual Lobby Day

St. Paul, MN – On Wednesday, February 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol, hundreds of working Minnesotans will gather in the Rotunda to rally around investments in health care, education, and living wages. The rally will serve as the focal point of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Minnesota School Employees Association (MSEA) Lobby Day, which includes our members who provide care and support for Minnesota families in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings.

Governor Dayton will join legislative leaders, as well as SEIU and MSEA members, to speak about the need to invest in a brighter future with the right priorities. This year’s Lobby Day focuses on four main priorities, including the need to solve the looming workforce crisis by allowing home care workers the right to form a union; raise revenue fairly to invest in schools; implement the Affordable Care Act through an active exchange to serve the best interests of Minnesotans; and increase the minimum wage to keep up with inflation. <!–more Click here to read entire media release –>

WHAT:
SEIU and MSEA Lobby Day Rally – The Time is Now

WHEN:
Wednesday, February 20 | 2:30 p.m.

WHERE:
Rotunda | Minnesota State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd | St. Paul, MN

WHO:

  • Governor Mark Dayton
  • Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk
  • House Speaker Paul Thissen
  • Representative Patti Fritz
  • Senator Tony Lourey
  • Representative Ryan Winkler
  • Darleen Henry, home care worker
  • Ronda Renee Koch, MSEA worker

# # #

SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, child care, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

MSEA is a union of nearly 6,000 classified public school employees from over 60 school districts in Minnesota.

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Working Families Breathe Sigh of Relief as HHS Breathes New Life into MinnesotaCare

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 6, 2013

ContactKate Brickman, SEIU Media Relations Coordinator, kbrickman@seiumn.org | 612-460-1219

SAINT PAUL, MN – Health care workers across Minnesota are breathing a sigh of relief today in response to the announcement by the federal Health and Human Services department that it has developed a timeline for Minnesota and other states who wish who pursue a Basic Health Plan (BHP) option in implementing of the Affordable Care Act. SEIU Healthcare MN, a union of more than 17,000 healthcare workers, released the following statement from SEIU Healthcare MN President Jamie Gulley.

“We are very relieved to see this announcement, which will allow Minnesota to preserve, expand, and improve the MinnesotaCare program through the “Basic Health Plan” (BHP) option created by the Affordable Care Act. Over 130,000 Minnesotans rely on MinnesotaCare each month for affordable, comprehensive health coverage. Without this action from HHS, the parents and children in working families who are enrolled in MinnesotaCare would have ended up underinsured starting in 2014.

“Even with tax credits available through the Health Insurance Exchange, many families would be unable to purchase adequate coverage. This federal guidance allows our state to keep MinnesotaCare and ensure working families have access to quality, affordable health care. Our members – the frontline caregivers in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes throughout the state – see all too often the struggles of working families without adequate coverage. They know that MinnesotaCare has been a lifeline for working people in this state for more than twenty years, and that an improved MinnesotaCare under the Affordable Care Act’s BHP option will remove waiting periods for coverage, eliminate the current in-patient hospital cap, and help thousands more hard-working Minnesotans to access quality coverage when they most need it.

“We are appreciative of Governor Mark Dayton and Commissioner Lucinda Jesson’s persistence in advocating for a continued, improved MinnesotaCare program. We are also grateful for the efforts of the federal delegation, especially Senators Franken and Klobuchar, for ensuring the interests of hard-working Minnesotans are put ahead of the interests of insurance companies. Finally, we would like to thank Senator Tony Lourey and Representative Erin Murphy for leading the charge for the Basic Health Plan here in Minnesota.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 17,000 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.

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Health Care Workers Support Efforts to Preserve and Improve MinnesotaCare under Affordable Care Act

Federal action necessary to continue with implementation of ACA

SAINT PAUL, MN – Health care workers today are sending their thanks to Senator Tony Lourey and Representative Erin Murphy for their introductions of S.F. 184 and H.F. 214 to preserve and improve the MinnesotaCare program through the “Basic Health Plan” option created by the Affordable Care Act. SEIU Healthcare MN released the following statement from SEIU Healthcare MN Executive Vice President Jigme Ugen.

“Over 130,000 Minnesotans rely on MinnesotaCare each month for affordable, comprehensive health coverage. MinnesotaCare enrollees are parents and children in working families who lack access to affordable, employer-based health coverage but are not quite poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, we have a unique opportunity to preserve, expand and improve MinnesotaCare beginning in 2014.

“Our members – frontline caregivers in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes throughout the state – see patients every day who benefit from the coverage we as a state have provided for more than twenty years through the MinnesotaCare program. As we implement the Affordable Care Act in Minnesota, we should be building on that legacy and moving forward on affordability and quality, not going backwards.

“We thank Senator Lourey and Representative Murphy for their leadership, as failure to act on this opportunity could result in the elimination of the MinnesotaCare program altogether. Even with tax credits available through the Health Insurance Exchange, many families would be unable to purchase adequate coverage. Without MinnesotaCare, thousands of adults and other low-income Minnesotans currently receiving MinnesotaCare will end up underinsured starting in 2014. This new bill would preserve and improve upon MinnesotaCare, through the “Basic Health Plan” (BHP) option created by the Affordable Care Act.

“We join other leaders in Minnesota in asking President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebelius to take action on a bipartisan request from Minnesota’s congressional delegation to proceed with a BHP demonstration project. As Minnesota waits for federal guidance, thousands of Minnesotans are left wondering if they will have access to affordable, quality health care in 2014.

“Minnesota is ready and eager to implement the historic ACA to benefit the interests of Minnesotans. MinnesotaCare provides affordable health coverage for thousands of working families, and we look forward to continuing serving those families.”

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota unites more than 17,000 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

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Home Care Workers Urge Lawmakers to Support Their Right to Form a Union

Home care workers begin weekly presence at Capitol as they talk with legislators about the looming workforce crisis

St. Paul, MN – Wednesday marked the first day of what will be weekly visits to the State Capitol for Minnesota home care workers hoping to pass legislation which would give them the right to form a union.

“We work long hours with low wages, no benefits, no overtime or sick leave,” said Sumer Spika, a home care worker from St. Paul. Spika takes care of a six-year-old girl named Jayla, who was born with pulmonary hypertension and a genetic disorder called Opitz syndrome. “I love doing this work, but we need to attract and retain more workers so there are enough of us to take care of the aging people and people with disabilities who want to remain at home.” (more…)

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National Experts on Home Care Workforce Release New Analysis on Minnesota’s Long-Term Care Gap

PHI issues recommendations for ensuring sufficient workforce for quality care of elders and people with disabilities

SAINT PAUL, MN – Minnesota’s long-term care system faces a looming workforce crisis and a “care gap” of thousands of direct-care workers over the course of the decade, according to a report released today by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the nation’s leading authority on the direct-care workforce.

In “Home Care at a Crossroads, Minnesota’s Impending Long-Term Care Gap,” PHI researchers report that while home care worker positions are projected to account for more than 10 percent of the new jobs expected in Minnesota over the next 10 years, the core labor pool from which the state’s direct-care workers are traditionally drawn – women aged 25-54 – is expected to decline by nearly 2,000 workers.

“Due to the poor quality of direct-care jobs, Minnesota faces the challenge of making these jobs competitive so that enough people will be attracted to this work to meet increased demand,” said Gail MacInnes, a National Policy Analyst with PHI. “Uncompetitive wages, part-time work, and a lack of employment-sponsored health insurance coverage are all barriers to establishing a stable home care workforce in Minnesota.” (more…)

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Home Care Workers Announce Effort To Form A Union

Media Contact: Brian Elliott, SEIU Minnesota State Council Director, 612-703-4987

Minnesota’s Personal Care Assistants and Other Direct Support Workers Who Care for Elderly and People with Disabilities Discuss Looming Workforce Crisis in Home Care Programs

Saint Paul, MN – Dozens of personal care assistants and other direct support workers gathered Wednesday afternoon to share stories of working for Minnesota’s elderly and people with disabilities and their desire to improve care.

“As home care workers, we care for our grandparents and other elderly Minnesotans in their homes, and we provide services to our family members and other Minnesotans with disabilities – services that allow them to live at home with their families or independently in the community,” said Zev Nicholson, a home care worker from Minneapolis. “We want to be able to improve the care we provide, but unfortunately the work we do is often invisible.”

Many home care workers struggle to make ends meet and care for their families as they face low wages and a lack of benefits or training opportunities. As the need for skilled home care workers increases with changing demographics, high worker turnover contributes to a looming workforce crisis facing the state in these programs. (more…)

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Victory for Minnesota’s Working Families

DFL Captures Both Houses, Voters Reject Regressive Amendments, Rep. Cravaack Defeated SEIU Members Play Critical Role in Electing Champions for Working People, Defeating Amendments

ST. PAUL, MN – For the last two years, Minnesotans have watched as Republican politicians in St. Paul shutdown the government to protect a tax break for big corporations, slashed millions of dollars from our public school system, and eliminated a tax credit for 95% of homeowners while voting to lower taxes on big corporations. But last night, in a broad rejection of Republicans’ divisive policies, Minnesotans elected pro-working family majorities to both houses of the state legislature. Echoing a common distaste for divisive politics, voters also rejected two constitutional amendments that promised to limit the freedom to marry and to disenfranchise thousands of voters. Tea Party stalwart Chip Cravaack, representing Minnesota’s eighth congressional district, was also defeated.

Final GOTV push: SEIU Minnesota members and volunteers make phone calls to residents from the SEIU MN State Council headquarters.

“Last night was a critical victory for working families across the state of Minnesota,” explained Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which, along with three other SEIU locals, represent nearly 30,000 janitors, nurses, public school bus drivers, security guards and other workers across the state. “Voters sent a clear message: we expect that our leaders will stand up for the middle class, strengthen our public schools, broaden access to healthcare, and make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share – not for the interests of the ultra-wealthy, regardless of the cost to working Minnesotans.”

In the weeks and months leading up to the election, hundreds of SEIU members from across Minnesota had more than 245,000 conversations with voters at their doors and over the phone in key legislative districts. (more…)

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