Care workers’ union sought

At the 2013 Minnesota Legislature, there is a push to unionize personal care assistants (PCAs) and other direct support workers. […]

At the 2013 Minnesota Legislature, there is a push to unionize personal care assistants (PCAs) and other direct support workers. These workers have announced their campaign to form a union with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota.

Home care workers in self-directed programs, where program participants directly control their own services, currently do not have the right to form a union. Members believe this give them a limited voice at the capitol to speak for issues impacting their work or the people they support.

Chris Bell, former co-chair of the MN-CCD, said, “I support the campaign because when direct support workers do better we all do better.”

Home care workers are working to pass legislation allowing them to form a statewide union and negotiate with the state, which controls the funding for these programs. This legislation will protect the right of people receiving services to hire, supervise, direct and terminate their support workers and does not give workers the right to strike, in order to ensure continued self-directed support for the people they work for.

Health care workers already got a boost with introduction of Senate File. 184 and House File 214 to preserve and improve the MinnesotaCare program through the “Basic Health Plan” option created by the Affordable Care Act. “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,” said SEIU Healthcare MN Executive Vice President Jigme Ugen.

“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.

For more information about how the disability community is showing support for home care workers contact Galen Smith at 651-285-5364 or galen.smith@seiuhealthcaremn.org

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