27,000 Minnesota Home Care Workers Unite with SEIU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Published 3:22 PM Eastern - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tyler Prell, 202-730-7278

Largely Female Workforce Overwhelmingly Votes to Join Together for Better Jobs and Better Care

WASHINGTON, DC - In the largest union election in Minnesota history, nearly 27,000 home care workers chose to unite with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota. Vowing to be "Invisible No More," home care workers across the state voted overwhelmingly to form a union so they can ensure home care workers are paid a living wage and improve the quality of care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities.

"Today, working women and men throughout Minnesota have taken an historic first step to unite their voices to make home care jobs good jobs that can sustain a family," said Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU. "Now more than ever, Americans are not waiting for change, we are coming together and rising up to demand it. Nowhere is that change more overdue or more urgent than within home care."

Minnesota home care workers are primarily female, middle-aged and living near poverty. In addition, more than 40 percent of Minnesota's direct-care workers -- which includes home care workers and home health aides -- live in households that rely on some form of public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid, according to a recent report from PHI. These factors contribute to extremely high turnover rates in a field that is physically and emotionally demanding.

"Despite the importance of our work caring for Minnesotans in every corner of the state, our work still lacks the respect it deserves," said Rosemary Van Vickle, a home care worker from Crosby, MN. "Because we love our work and the people we serve, we have come together to fight for change. With our collective voice, we can now advocate for improvements for home care workers and for the people we serve who are counting on us."

Today's victory comes less than two months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Illinois home care workers are not entitled to the same rights as other public employees. The ruling has not slowed home care workers from joining together in Minnesota, or in states like Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington, DC - where thousands of working families have rallied to call attention to how poverty wages are holding back Americans, destabilizing communities and our economy.

With this vote, Minnesota home care workers join other working women and men across the country in the fastest-growing service sector jobs - hospital workers, airport workers, fast food workers, retail workers - who are standing up to call attention to the need to raise wages and rebalance our economy.

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