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!
SAINT PAUL – Home care workers and clients across Minnesota continued their call for Minnesota lawmakers to take action on the bipartisan bill that would provide an emergency wage and benefit increase for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities.
The legislation would provide a 15% temporary rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and would help tens of thousands of families across the state. A bill was passed off the floor of the Minnesota House as a priority of the House DFL and a similar Senate bill had bipartisan support. Home care workers are overwhelmingly women and many are Black and people of color. Currently many home care workers make only $13.25 to do this critical work.
Home care workers and clients were frustrated by the inability to pass this commonsense bill during the regular session and are calling on legislators to prioritize this important bill during the special session.
Saint Paul home care client Brittanie Wilson shared why this increase would be so helpful to people with disabilities and seniors across the state who rely on home care workers to stay safely in their homes.
“Now, more than ever, we need our elected leaders to do what is right and pass this emergency increase to help support Minnesotans across the state who rely on home care to stay safely in our homes,” said Wilson. “An increase in wages during this crucial time will have a huge impact on this industry – not only for PCAs, but for clients too. Higher wages will allow me to retain and recruit more staff who I’m relying on more and more for these critical services in order to stay home.”
Deb Howze, a home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota who participated in a “Walk-A-Day” with Governor Walz last winter to highlight the important work done every day by home care workers, demanded action from lawmakers.
“With everything that has happened over the last few months, home care workers continue to put ourselves and our families at risk to make sure seniors and people with disabilities across our state can safely stay in their homes. Even with everything going on, we are doing this hard work, with many workers still making as low as $13.25 per hour. During the legislative session we appreciated the words of support for our work from the Governor and elected officials from both parties in the House and Senate talking about how this work desperately needs to see a pay increase, but we’ve heard enough talk. We need action,” said Howze. “Minnesotans who are struggling need our leaders to use the special session to pass this bill to show they care about seniors, people with disabilities and the workers who help keep them safely in their homes.”
The proposed increase would help address the state’s care crisis. Prior to the pandemic, there was a shortage of thousands of home care workers for all the Minnesotans who need them, due to the low wages and lack of benefits for this critical work. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that shortage far worse, leaving many seniors and people with disabilities without the care they need to remain safely in their homes.
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents over 40,000 healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and self-directed home care, in every community in the state. On behalf of these essential workers providing frontline care to Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am writing to urge you to extend our state’s peacetime emergency.
Many of our members are risking their lives every day of this pandemic, just by going in to work and doing their jobs. Every day we learn of more healthcare workers stuck at home because they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, and some days we get the tragic news that another healthcare worker has died as a result of their exposure at work. Just this Monday, healthcare workers gathered near North Memorial Medical Center to mourn and remember LarryDean Goodrich, a phlebotomist and longtime union member at North Memorial, who died of COVID-19. Let there be no doubt: for healthcare workers, this disease remains an emergency.
While PPE supplies in some healthcare settings have improved over the last few weeks, the overwhelming majority of home care workers continue to have no access to PPE, and in a recent Telephone Town Hall meeting of nursing home workers across the state, more than 50% reported that their facilities continue to lack adequate PPE supply. Home care workers continue to lack sufficient sick time to remain home during a two-week quarantine, sufficient pay to keep enough workers showing up to care for their clients during the pandemic, and the funding for overtime hours that’s needed for those workers still willing to come to work to put in more hours. We are a long way from the conditions that would justify an end to the peacetime emergency.
But nowhere is the continuing crisis clearer than in nursing homes and other congregate care settings. We would invite anyone with doubts about whether COVID-19 remains an emergency to visit one of the state’s many nursing homes with large outbreaks – except that, appropriately, visitors are barred from entering those facilities. For nursing home residents and workers – and especially for residents and workers who are Black and Brown – every day presents a very real chance of COVID-19 infection, and in far too many cases, death. The numbers should be familiar to everyone at this point: 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have been among residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Black Minnesotans account for 22% of confirmed COVID cases, while making up less than 6% of the state’s population. An ending of the peacetime emergency and all the protections for Minnesotans that have been enabled by it would be an insult to the courageous work being done every day by nursing assistants, nurses, housekeepers, dietary workers, laundry workers and other frontline staff in our nursing homes – a group that includes several thousand Black and Brown immigrants. It would also disrespect and dishonor the residents those workers serve, who we have every reason to believe will continue to be the primary victims of this disease for many months to come.
If the peacetime emergency is not extended, the critical funding available to nursing homes under MN 12A.10 would soon expire. Many nursing homes have used these expedited reimbursements to pay for important anti-COVID measures like additional staffing, paid leave for suspected COVID cases, hero pay, and PPE.
The peacetime state of emergency you signed into law on March 13 allowed the state to open a toolbox of other resources and to take decisive action to protect Minnesotans, including:
This is just a small sub-set of the urgently needed measures undertaken under the peacetime emergency. Extending the peacetime state of emergency allows the state to continue taking those kinds of steps to make sure Minnesotans stay safe. An extension will also ensure that the Executive Orders already in place remain in effect and that we continue to have the flexibility to respond quickly to needs that arise across the state, especially among the frontline caregivers risking their lives every day when they go to work, and the patients, residents and clients they serve.
Jamie Gulley, President
We have reached a tentative contract agreement with Park Nicollet Health Services. If ratified by a majority of union couriers, the new contract agreement will go into effect with the new wages rates retroactive to April 1, 2020.
The bargaining team is recommending a yes vote. We believe this tentative agreement is an important step forward towards wage parity with other union members who do similar work. We succeeded at winning an immediate adjustment to the wage scales and a commitment that SEIU Couriers will be paid at the same rate as SEIU Pharmacy Messengers/Shuttle Bus Drivers at Park Nicollet Methodist starting April 1, 2022. We also negotiated language that prevents the employer from requiring anyone to lift, on their own, packages that weigh over 50lbs, language allowing paid time for new employee union orientation, and we resolved issues regarding the lead pay rates by creating a lead pay differential. While the new agreement does not reflect everything you deserve, it is a significant step forward. During these uncertain times when employers are making cuts, the value of having wages and rights guaranteed in a union contract is more apparent than ever before.
Please look over the tentative agreements (scroll down), ask any questions you may have. The tentative agreements below lists changes to your existing contact, any language that is not listed in a tentative agreement would remain the same as the current contact, which you can view here (http://www.seiuhealthcaremn.org/files/2017/10/Park-Nicollet-Couriers-CONTRACT_3.8.2017-3.31.2020.pdf)
Please vote online here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2958L2H) by 5pm on Monday, June 8th, 2020.
If a majority of those who vote, vote yes, this tentative agreement will go into effect. If a majority vote no, you would have to demonstrate your collective power through a strike and then try to re-negotiate. The bargaining team is recommending a yes vote.
If you have any questions, please call more, send an email or reach out to the bargaining team.