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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Condemns the Racism and Discrimination Against Asian Americans, and Urges Unity as we Respond to the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

IMG_6317As COVID-19 disrupts life across the globe, many of our Asian American members, patients and friends in the community are also experiencing a heightened level of racism and discrimination.

On behalf of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, we want to express our support, love and solidarity. It is our collective responsibility to shut down and condemn xenophobia and bigotry at all times.

We encourages anyone who encounters or witnesses attacks or harassment to report it to proper channels.

– President Jamie Gulley

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Teletown Hall with Gov. Walz and President Jamie Gulley

The morning of March 26 Governor Walz and President Jamie Gulley held a Teletown Hall with members to provide updates on the work going on across the state and all the sectors of our union – nursing homes, home care, hospitals and clinics – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Listen to the recorded call below!


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COVID-19 Impact on Hospitals, Clinics and Nursing Homes

Last week, nursing homes across the state closed their doors to guests and loved ones of residents as they work to prevent any exposure of our most vulnerable residents to the virus. At the same time, because of the emergency orders by the state, workers who are in the process of completing their Nursing Assistant Certifications have been unable to complete their programs because of the lack of testing sites, TB tests and the other normal requirements to work in long term care. This past weekend, our Union joined with the employer and resident advocacy organizations Care Providers of Minnesota and LeadingAge Minnesota to ask Governor Walz for a temporary suspension of the normal requirements in order to avoid a staffing crisis in nursing homes. We also requested an ability for retired and other out-of-work health care workers to immediately work in nursing homes, as many clinic and other healthcare workers are seeing hours reduced.

In hospitals and clinics, dental offices and rehab facilities, we saw patient volumes drop abruptly. The board of dentistry recommended closures and the state ordered a halt to all elective surgeries. In response to this development, and because we know that we can soon expect a surge of COVID-19 cases, we have asked our employers and the Minnesota Hospital Association to ensure that all workers experiencing low need, furlough or lay-off during this time be provide a minimum of 10 days administrative leave pay.

I want to take a moment to recognize Allina Health for being the first employer to commit that any low needs for the next pay period (through April 5th) will be with full pay and no affected workers will be required to pay themselves from their paid time off accounts. In addition, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) has announced that they will pay the full cost of healthcare and dental premiums during the month of April for all workers who are enrolled in the employer’s benefit plans.

While other employers have announced programs to allow workers to use their paid time off during this window of time or to borrow against future time off accruals, our Union will be fighting for employers to do the right thing by their workers. We oppose any proposal that would cause workers to go into debt to their employer for sick leave during a public health emergency and we are calling on every employer to do right by our families as we work together to fight the spread of COVID-19.

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COVID-19 Impact on Home Care Workers

When state lawmakers passed an emergency funding bill for the healthcare system to deal with COVID-19, they left out home care workers altogether. We have been pushing hard at both the state and federal levels to make sure the vital services our home care members provide to seniors and people with disabilities are valued and that emergency measures are taken to support them. Last Friday, Gov. Walz issued an executive order waiving many of the normal paperwork requirements in our home care system that could serve as obstacles to clients getting the support they need during this crisis. Now we need both state and federal lawmakers to put emergency funding into the home care system, for urgent needs like overtime pay, Personal Protective Equipment, and additional sick pay for workers who need to stay home due to the virus. Several hundred home care members participated in a telephone town hall meeting on Friday to share their concerns and issues and to shape the union’s response to this crisis. Executive Board member Francis Hall shared her story, and the urgent need for PPE and other emergency support with thousands of other SEIU members on a national call with International President Mary Kay Henry on Saturday. In addition to our push for emergency funding, we are demanding that state officials provide public health information and guidance directly to all home care workers and clients through mass communications – something the state has never done before, but is urgently needed to combat the lack of information, misinformation, and confusion many of our members and their clients are currently experiencing regarding COVID-19.

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State’s Largest Healthcare Workers’ Union Welcomes Walz Executive Order To Provide DHS Flexibility To Fight COVID-19

Order will allow faster staffing of nursing homes and helps homecare workers and clients be safer

SAINT PAUL – Members and leaders of the state’s largest healthcare union, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, praised the announcement of Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-12 today that “allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them.”

CDC-coronavirus-image-23311_rsDelores Flynn, a Roseville mother whose son Scott requires 24-hour-a-day home care to survive, shared why this matters to the thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who receive care in their homes from home care workers.

“For families with loved ones who need care, this crisis is literally life or death. Families like mine are feeling the urgency and fear of the unknown. We need help and support. We have been struggling to keep our current caregivers and worried about the impact of Covid-19 if we don’t have the right people to care for Scott,” said Flynn. “I know through the union that thousands of Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities are sharing the same concerns I have about how we get the care our families need in a safe and efficient way. I am happy to hear that the Governor has waived some in-person requirements that would have slowed down the process of getting Scott the care he depends on. Relaxing background checks and other administrative burdens will allow us to find new workers faster, and right now that is what families across our state need to be safe and healthy.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member Melody Nordy, a TMA at the Luther Haven nursing home in Montevideo, shared the importance of this action for that group of workers.

“This is especially important for nursing home workers so we can operate safely under the threat of COVID-19. We need nursing homes to be fully staffed to provide the care our residents need across the state. We must not let the failure to process background checks and other criteria stand in the way of getting people to do this critical work.”

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota President Jamie Gulley, who is currently serving on the Governor’s Covid Advisory Task Force, shared why these actions are so critical to keeping families safe.

“Frontline healthcare workers in our union have been performing heroically throughout this whole ordeal. I am glad the Governor continues to take actions to support and protect these incredible workers. We know that the COVID-19 outbreak requires fast and effective action, especially in matters that directly and immediately affect public health. We know the Governor has the authority and the responsibility to act and are thankful he has taken this important step. As a member of the Governor’s COVID Advisory Task Force, I know this is in line with what many provider, labor, and advocacy groups have urged him to do on this issue.”

In addition to Executive Order 20-12, Executive Order 20-11 allows state agencies to seek federal authority to change or waive some federal requirements applicable to these programs and services. As noted in the Governor’s announcement, DHS provides health care coverage, programs, and services for over 1 million Minnesotans, including groups likely to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 such as older adults, individuals who have disabilities, families with children, and individuals with mental illness. Earlier this week, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota joined over 200 other organizations on a letter calling for actions like these to take place to help ensure Minnesota healthcare workers and families are safe.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Coronavirus: Information for Healthcare Workers

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President Gulley Appointed to COVID-19 Advisory Council

Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 9.06.35 AMI am pleased to announce that Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm appointed me, as President of our Union, to serve on a special advisory council to assist in responding to the spread of COVID-19. For the past month our Union has been at the forefront, working to encourage hospitals, clinics and nursing homes to prepare for the likelihood that we will need to care for patients exposed to the coronavirus. I am honored by the appointment and plan to use the opportunity to advance three goals on behalf of our Union:

  1. To advance safety and education for health care workers who risk exposure to COVID-19 at work.
  2. To ensure safe and compassionate care for every patient who comes into our supervision.
  3. To combat any and all stigma or prejudice toward Asian-Americans or immigrants that may arise as a result of misinformation or bias in the media or in our community.
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SEIU Members at HealthPartners Ratify Tentative Agreement

SAINT PAUL – Members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota at HealthPartners ratified their Tentative Agreement (TA) Wednesday with a strong majority after 15 hours of voting. The agreement came after a strike vote for a 7-day ULP strike, which was averted when the TA was reached early in the morning of Tuesday, February 18th .

The contract saw wage increases of 7.5% over the three years, protection of union members’ excellent “Classic” health plan benefits, and overtime pay provisions protected from all cuts and changes.

Angela Knutson, a nurse at HealthPartners and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, shared why members are excited to win this contract and get back to providing quality care for all Minnesota families.

“We were able to win this contract, protecting our healthcare and increasing the pay for our important work, because we stuck together and were willing to go on strike to protect the care of thousands of Minnesota families,” said Knutson. “I am so proud of this group of dedicated caregivers who showed that we would do whatever it takes to win a fair contract that respects the frontline caregivers who make HealthPartners a world-class organization. We remain committed to standing up so that every family – no matter our job – has the healthcare they need to make sure our families are healthy and safe.”

The 1,800 workers in the bargaining unit represent nearly all caregivers other than doctors, including RNs, dental hygienists, LPNs, CMAs, midwives, lab techs, physicians assistants, and over 80 different jobs in total. They work at more than 30 HealthPartners clinics across the Twin Cities, providing award-winning care and helping to make our communities healthier.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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Tentative Agreement Reached with HealthPartners – Strike Called Off

After another marathon session of negotiations, the Bargaining Team reached a Tentative Agreement overnight. The strike notice has been withdrawn and the strike that was to begin ‪on Wednesday has been called off. Please watch the video from the Bargaining Team for a full update. More details will be coming about the tentative agreement and the vote. Check the seiuhcmn.org/hpbargaining page for more info.

Full details will be shared with the membership for review, before the vote next week.

TA summary:
* Wage increases of 7.5% over three years, retroactive.
* Protecting the Classic health plan benefits
* Overtime pay provisions protected from all cuts and changes

Membership Town Hall Meeting:

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 6:15 PM – 7:45 PM
  • AWAKEN WEST SEVENTH: 506 View Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102
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Despite Overwhelming Strike Vote, HealthPartners Refuses to Budge on Demands For Healthcare Cuts In Multiple Sessions This Week

Union Members Begin Strike Preparation HP Barg Team 2020 (2)

(Saint Paul, MN) – Talks stalled between HealthPartners and the 1,800 employees who are members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Following a strike vote that saw 95% support for a 7-day ULP strike, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at HealthPartners returned to the table twice this week, including Friday for over 11 hours. Despite SEIU members’ willingness to reach a fair deal, HealthPartners lawyers and management refused to move off their demands to roll back healthcare coverage for the 1,800 frontline healthcare workers and their families.

The union members are now working to prepare for their 7-day ULP strike scheduled to start the morning of Wednesday, February 19th. The members will hold a sign-making session Tuesday night at Awaken West 7th Church in St. Paul, ahead of the walkout that is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. (Formal advisory on Tuesday sign-making event to come.)

Cindy Sutherlund, a 20-year LPN at HealthPartners and member of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota bargaining team, shared the frustration members felt after management refused to budge:

“If HealthPartners doesn’t take care of their employees, how can we take care of our patients? We are the frontline caregivers who make sure our communities are healthy, but they are trying to roll back our healthcare,” said Sutherlund. “We don’t want to be forced to strike, but we know that if we go backwards on healthcare coverage now we will never get it back in the future, which will hurt employees, our families and our patients. We’re ready to strike if HealthPartners won’t take their healthcare cuts off the table.”

Nancy Wickoren, a 31-year LPN and member of the bargaining team, talked about how the Union was working to reach a deal.

“We came to bargaining this week open to make changes to get this deal done, but management are not willing to reach a fair deal. It makes me angry and sad. We want to be able to give good care and remain healthy,” said Wickoren. “I am not doing this for myself, but  for the frontline caregivers behind us. I didn’t realize how strong the younger people are in standing up for good care. I want to leave the next generation of caregivers in a place where they can continue giving world-class care for Minnesota families. We are united and ready to do whatever it takes to make sure we stand up for Minnesota families.”

The 1,800 workers in the bargaining unit represent nearly all caregivers other than doctors, including physicians assistants, midwives, RNs, dental hygienists, LPNs, CMAs, lab techs and over 80 different jobs in total. They work at 30 HealthPartners clinics across the Twin Cities, providing award-winning care and helping to make our communities healthier. The strike vote was held on February 6th for 15 hours at five locations across the Twin Cities. The contract between HealthPartners and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota expired on January 31st.

HealthPartners executives have proposed huge cuts and cost-shifting to the health benefits caregivers have won over the years. The cost-shifting measures come after the Star Tribune reported that HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh received over $2 million in pay last year, while the company earned a record-breaking $7 billion in revenue.

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SEIU Healthcare Minnesota represents healthcare and long term care workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home care across Minnesota

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