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Allina Health Announces Health Insurance Premium Holiday

On Friday, November 20,Stethoscope and money symbol for health care costs Allina Health announced that it will cover the employee portion of Allina Health-sponsored medical and dental plans in the month of December. Premiums that would otherwise be deducted on the December 11 and December 25 paychecks will not be applied.  According to their announcement this is a one-time, non-precedent setting event.
Our Union applauds this decision by Allina and I want to thank the SEIU members who serve on the Health Care Cost Committee at Allina for bringing forward the idea of a rebate or credit for Allina members beginning last summer. The SEIU committee members are Harry O’Mara (ANW), Dawn Akkaya (ANW), Rita Matthews (Mercy), and Larry Schindler (Unity). For the past several months, the SEIU representatives on the committee have been advocating for just such a rebate or credit. Seeing that the number of claims processed under our plans was historically low and seeing the Blue Cross/Blue Shield was issuing rebates to other customers the SEIU committee members asked for Allina (which self-insures their health plans) to provide the same level of rebate to workers that Blue Cross is offering to customers in non-self-insured plans. We applaud this outcome and call on all other SEIU employers with self-insured health plans to provide a similar rebate on health insurance this holiday season!
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COVID-19 Vaccine: We Want to Hear from You!

covid vaccine (300)Earlier this month, we heard positive news from pharmaceutical companies and public officials about the development of vaccines for COVID-19. While we have not yet seen or had the opportunity to review the phase-3 results, we believe that production of vaccines for essential workers is likely to start soon.
We want to hear your thoughts and opinions about the potential COVID-19 vaccines before we begin bargaining with employers about policies related to expectations or requirements surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine. Please click the link below and take a short survey to share your thoughts and opinions about the potential vaccines and distribution for healthcare workers.
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HealthPartners Member Lori Babin Retires after 41 Years

lori babin (300)In early October, after 41 years as an LPN with HealthPartners (Group Health), Lori Babin retired. Lori, who comes from a union family, her father belongs to Local 539, Pipefitters Union, was working at Group Health when they unionized in 1981. A year or two later she was asked to be a steward by Bernie Seleski, an RN who recognized her leadership when she helped recruit signatures to join the union.
“I have a strong belief we need protection from management since I personally witnessed how members were being treated before we unionized. Fired for no reason other than the supervisor didn’t like them. Also, poor wages and benefits. I wanted to help!”
Throughout her years as a steward Lori has served on the bargaining committee, helped with new member orientation, conducted impromptu meetings answering member questions and concerns at Group Health Como Clinic where she worked, and helped with new recruiting at some locations like Central MN Group Health.
After serving on the bargaining committee seven times, Lori has noticed newer team members bring a new perspective, but don’t always understand the whole process like some of the “veterans” did. “It’s a tremendous learning experience and a true understanding of how difficult management can be trying to maintain benefits and fight for new ones. I will forever cherish my time on those committees.”
Looking back, Lori is grateful to have experienced all her years as a union leader. She had many victories along the way for members with guidance from both Julie Schnell (former SEIU HCMN President and Group Health Business Rep.) and Kevin Kuehn (current HealthPartners Internal Organizer).
“One thing I learned and want to pass on is you have to respect and understand both sides, union and management. I always told my managers that I understood they had a job to do but I also had a job to do. I was calm, I never got upset during meetings, I went out of my way to calm the member who needed my help and gave my best advice as a leader. It’s important to project yourself as powerful as the managers sitting in the room with you.”
In summing up her 30 years as a leader in the union, she said, “I loved being a union leader. I will miss it very much.”
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SEIU Essential Workers Celebrate Massive Voter Engagement and Victories of Joe Biden and Pro-Worker Candidates in Minnesota

Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, bringing together over 60,000 Minnesotans across race and place, celebrated a massive voter engagement effort and the election wins of pro-worker candidates up and down the ticket.

President Biden (SQ)In Minnesota SEIU reached out to over 1.24 million voters and had over 105,000 contacts during the election season. Across the country,  SEIU members and partners have made more than 33 million phone calls, sent 58 million texts and knocked on 1 million doors of infrequent voters across battleground states.

The heart and soul of SEIU’s infrequent voter engagement program are its Member Political Organizers (MPOs). These are everyday Americans who have put their lives on hold to do everything in their power to elect Joe Biden and champions up and down the ticket for healthcare, the right to join a union, and racial and economic justice.

One MPO was Laura Carpenter, who is a food service worker in the Minneapolis Public Schools and a member of SEIU Local 284, who celebrated the work done and pushed elected officials to count every vote.

“SEIU members are essential workers of every race and background across Minnesota. We keep America fed, clean, safe, and healthy, and this election season we showed that our votes are as essential as our jobs. Now that we’ve voted in record numbers, it’s time to make sure to count every vote,” said Carpenter. “I’m proud of the work so many of us did reaching out to Minnesotans, especially voters who may not always be part of the election process, to help elect candidates who will work with us to build a multi-racial democracy where every family can thrive.”

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Another member who worked tirelessly during the election season was Shari Lackey, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

“Essential workers have experienced President Trump’s failure of leadership firsthand. Home care workers have seen the harm that this failed administration caused to healthcare workers and the people we care for every day. Our votes have been cast and now we need to count every vote,” said Lackey. “The health and safety of our families is just one of the reasons why we worked so hard to make sure we had leaders like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Tina Smith and Angie Craig in Washington D.C. I’m proud of the countless hours we worked to make sure we have people in office who will work with us to get our state and country back on track.”

Abdi Haybe is a security officer and member of Local 26, and did electoral organizing in Minnesota’s growing East African community, and shared the power of turning out votes this election season.

“In Minnesota, as was the case across the country, a handful of politicians hoped that by sowing chaos and stoking fear, they could bully and cheat their way through this election, but our solidarity and unity proved stronger than their attempts to divide us. Now it is time to count all of our votes. Because of the work done by regular Minnesotans, we turned out in record numbers, especially workers in communities of color who don’t always vote, “said Haybe. “Essential workers of different backgrounds voted for a $15 minimum wage and good union jobs to provide for our families. We voted for healthcare and long term care that everyone can afford. We voted to end police violence in Black communities and for investments in proven solutions to reimagine public safety.”

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PNM: Extra Shift Bonus LOU Info and Vote

SEIU Members at Park Nicollet Methodist,

The hospital approached SEIU leaders this week with a proposal to offer Nursing Assistants and Emergency Department Techs at Park Nicollet Methodist an extra-shift bonus of $25 per 4 hours of work on a pre-scheduled extra evening or night shift.

Union leaders negotiated the details and now it is up to the members to vote on whether or not to ratify the agreement. The agreement is available here.

Please vote by 5pm on Monday, November 9th. Voting is online here.

Why is the hospital offering this bonus?
Due to COVID-19, the hospital is experiencing high patient volumes and told us they are having difficulty filling evening and night shifts in Inpatient Units and the Emergency Department. The hospital wants to provide an incentive in an effort to meet this need now and in the coming weeks.

Who would be eligible?
Nursing Assistant and Emergency Department Techs who have the skill set to work within the Emergency Center and the Inpatient Areas (2N, 3N, 3E, 4W, 4E, 5E/W, 6E/W, 7W, 8W & OBS). These employees must be skilled and able to care for all patients, including care for COVID patients and have ability to work in the Emergency Center, critical care, and the medical/surgical units. If the SEIU NA or Tech does not work in the Emergency Center or inpatient settings, they must be able to perform all necessary skill sets, as well as have a willingness, to work in these clinical areas in order to participate.

Eligible SEIU NAs or Techs are asked to request all extra shifts via MySchedule. Confirmation of extra shifts will follow all normal processes followed by the scheduling teams. We will follow all contract language to increase and decrease our staffing levels, based on seniority and skill set.

The extra bonus will not be paid to employees if they have any unscheduled time off in the pay period the bonus is to be paid (example: replaced self, sick or absent). Time missed due to being told by Employee Health to self-quarantine at home due to a work-related exposure will not negatively impact an employee’s bonus.

When would the short-term bonus be offered?
If this agreement is ratified by the membership, extra shift bonuses would begin Tuesday, November 10, 2020 and end Wednesday, December 23, 2020.

Why is this bonus only be offered to these two job classifications?
Hospital leaders said this is a supply and demand situation–the reason for the bonus is simply to create an incentive to fill the extra demand for evening and night shifts in inpatient units and the Emergency Center.  The purpose of the bonus is not to show appreciation or recognize the exemplary work all SEIU members are doing during this challenging time. Our union previously brought the hospital a proposal for Hero Pay and hospital representatives said such a proposal was too costly to consider.

Are other employees in the hospital being offered bonuses?
Yes, MNA Nurses have been offered and accepted a similar bonus program.

Will the hospital offer similar bonuses to SEIU members in other job classes?
At this time, hospital administrations said they have not identified a need to offer such incentives in others areas of the hospital, but if such a need becomes evident they could consider appropriate incentives. If you feel there is a need in your department, please share that with your supervisor and/or director.

Please vote by 5pm on Monday, November 9th. Voting is online here.

SEIU Leaders are recommending a yes vote. Although this bonus is nowhere near what SEIU members working during this pandemic deserve, it is something.

Thank you,

Krystal Klein
Internal Organizer, SEIU

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Following Roundtable with Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan, Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Begin Bargaining With State for New Union Contract

Just days before the start of contract bargaining with the state over a new two-year union contract, home care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota held a roundtable with Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan Wednesday morning, sharing stories of how the care crisis caused by underfunding has harmed care workers & thousands of seniors and people with disabilities across the state.

121080489_10158363048906928_5529630934560008366_oThe care crisis has meant thousands of home care jobs are unfilled because of the low pay caused by the lack of investment in this critical work. After months of advocacy, including shutting down the road outside of the Capitol before the October special session, care workers won a temporary emergency rate increase as part of the bonding bill recently signed by Gov. Walz, but the increase will only provide a few weeks of additional pay and recognition, and workers who have kept Minnesotans safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are still making as little as $13.25 per hour with minimal benefits.

Francis Hall is a home care worker from Aldrich, MN who is an Executive Board member with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and part of the union’s bargaining team. 

“As a home care worker I take care of my terminally ill grandson. Home care has extended his life thus far by an additional 10 years. Without these essential services he would have already died, but with his home care services he is now 22 and he has been able to stay at home and live a much happier & healthier life,” said Hall. “Taking care of him at home has saved the state millions of dollars in the last 10 years. With this contract we are going to push the state to increase pay, boost training and give home care workers overtime to finally show we value the essential work that home care workers do in keeping individuals in their home and community.”

The two sides will begin bargaining their next contract on Monday October 26th, with a union bargaining team of workers, clients and families representing SEIU Healthcare Minnesota in talks with state officials. The two sides have to reach a tentative agreement before the next legislative session to ensure funding is allocated for the contract. Key demands from home care workers include:

  • Living wage for professional caregivers, at last

  • Improved training and orientation for the state’s home care workforce, to provide higher quality care to seniors and people with disabilities

  • Overtime pay, like all other hourly workers have

Damon Leivestad is a Mechanical Engineer from Plymouth who was born with a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy which is a degenerative disorder that causes muscle deterioration and weakness as it progresses. He started using a wheelchair when he was 10 and has used home care services since 1993 and currently requires total assistance with every aspect of my daily living. He is part of the bargaining team and shared why this contract is so important for thousands of Minnesotans.

“The shortage of Home Care Workers is growing at an alarming rate and without sustainable livable wages and benefits this shortage will leave many disabled and elderly Minnesotan’s little choice but to move into unsafe, costly nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. With the addition of COVID, many of these long term care facilities would be a death sentence to myself and many of my friends,” said Leivestad. “Paying home care workers livable wages and benefits not only allows them to provide for their families but it also gives their clients, like myself, the ability to live full, dignified, independent lives in our own homes and communities.

“I, as well as many people I know, struggle to find and retain reliable, knowledgeable Home Care Workers which, in turn, affects our ability to live normal, productive lives that most people take for granted,” Leivestad added. “Continuing to pay substandard, non-livable wages to home care workers who have dedicated their lives to helping the disabled and elderly citizens of Minnesota is appalling. What does it say about the moral character of our state when we pay other jobs more than we are willing to pay hard-working, compassionate, reliable, knowledgeable home care workers?”

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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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Our Vote is Essential

Election Day-Paid time off-01Election Day, November 3rd, is only two weeks away! All members who are able to vote early or by mail are encouraged to do so. Make sure your voice is heard in choosing the elected officials who will make key decisions about our future.

If you are scheduled to work on November 3rd and need time off to vote, remember: state law provides you with paid time off to vote! Let your supervisor or manager know as soon as possible if you will need paid time to vote and call our Member Action Center if you experience any issues being released to vote on Election Day!

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Minnesota Home Care Workers & Clients Praise Minnesota Senate Passing Emergency Rate Increase for Critical Care Work

Following rallies Saturday in the streets and Wednesday in front of the Capitol, care workers and clients one step closer to getting long-overdue COVID-19 emergency funding for this critical work 

85926Home care workers and clients with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota celebrated the Minnesota Senate joining the Minnesota House in passing the emergency wage and benefit increase in the omnibus special session bill Thursday by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The rate increase, when signed by the Governor, will be available to help support the workers who have been on the front lines of caring for tens of thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities through over seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Home care workers, who are almost all women like me, and many of whom are women of color, have stepped up throughout this pandemic, working to keep seniors and people with disabilities living safely in their homes and with their families. We’ve put our lives on hold to ensure we are being safe for those we care for, but we haven’t gotten any support at all for this critical, life-saving work. By passing this emergency rate increase, and doing so on a strongly bipartisan basis, the Senate joins the House in taking an important step to finally showing that our elected officials value and appreciate the work we have been doing every day during this pandemic,” said Robin Pikala, a home care worker and member-leader with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota from Fridley. 

“But this temporary support during the peacetime emergency is just a stopgap. We have so much work left to do as a state to fix the care crisis that has been hurting workers and clients for many years even before the pandemic, by finally providing a living wage and real benefits and professional standards to this critical workforce,” Pikala continued. “We are looking forward to addressing those long-term challenges and injustices in the contract negotiations we’ll be starting with the state of Minnesota in just a couple weeks. But for today, with these votes, I’m glad to feel like our work, which has been praised by everyone as essential, is finally getting some real, needed support as we work on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

The Senate vote comes just days after care workers and the seniors and people with disabilities they care for shut down the road outside the Capitol to showcase the urgency of needing support for this critical work during COVID-19. A delegation also rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday when the House was in session, to make sure elected officials didn’t leave behind this essential workforce.

Because of years of underfunding, thousands of Minnesotans are currently struggling to find quality care they need. Home care workers make as little as $13.25 per hour, with few benefits despite the critical nature of their work. The temporary rate increase for home care workers that was approved by the House as part of the bonding bill, when signed into law by Governor Walz, would be a huge boost to Minnesotans all across the state.

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HERO Pay at Mayo

HERO PAY-01On 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.

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Arbitration Win for Abbott Techs

200922_ARB WIN_SOLIDARITY FIST-01Last 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!

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