5,500 Wisconsin Home Care Providers Unite in Wisconsin's Largest Healthcare Union

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Published 5:38 PM Eastern - Thursday, May 6, 2010

Meghan Finegan, 617-283-8597

Strengthening Home Care Key to Improving Wisconsin's Long Term Care Services

Madison, WI - In one of the state's largest union elections in decades, 5,500 home care providers overwhelmingly voted 'yes' to unite in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU is the largest and fastest growing union of healthcare workers in the Americas.

"I love my work and I put my clients first," said home care provider Odessa Robinson of Wasau. "And there are thousands of home care providers in Wisconsin that feel the same way as me: we want to see our work improve. That's why I voted to join with SEIU."

"Wisconsin home care providers do amazing work to provide care for some of the most vulnerable citizens in the state--seniors and people with disabilities," said SEIU Executive Vice President and healthcare leader, Mary Kay Henry. "Now those workers will be able to stand up for improvements that will allow them to fulfill their dreams in the workplace and provide better care and support for their clients."

Ballots were counted today in Madison. Home care providers provide vital services - bathing, cooking, shopping, assistance getting to and from medical appointments and more - that help thousands of Wisconsin's elderly and people with disabilities retain their independence at home, while saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually for the cost of nursing home care.

Wisconsin is facing a serious home care crisis. Just as more baby boomers reach retirement, the gap between supply of and demand for direct care workers is growing. Very low wages, no healthcare coverage or sick days, and a lack of adequate training in the home care profession result in very high turnover and a lack of stability in the home care workforce.

"For far too long, home care workers have had no voice in our healthcare system. They have been invisible. Today, Wisconsin home care workers are invisible no more," said Dian Palmer, RN, President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin.

Wisconsin home care providers join home care workers in more than 10 other states - including 12,000 Missouri home care workers who announced yesterday they had joined with SEIU to improve the quality of care available to consumers. Other states with SEIU home care workers include California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts and Washington. Across the country, home care worker unions have helped establish training programs, started registries to connect consumers with qualified home care workers and won increased funding for home care services while fighting budget cuts that would force thousands of consumers out of home care and into nursing homes.

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To interview a Wisconsin home care worker who voted in this election, please contact Meghan Finegan at 617-283-8597 or Meghan.Finegan@seiu.org.

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