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Newly reaffirmed union member and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank discusses how unions are reasserting themselves, and that Americans have a growing favorable impression of labor, in his column today. Linking inequality with the decline in union membership, he writes:

"There are many causes of growing inequality--globalization, education disparities, tax policy--but an International Monetary Fund study released in March found that the decline in union membership has been responsible for half of the rise in the share of income going to the top 10 percent of earners in advanced economies between 1980 and 2010. Declining union membership, by weakening the bargaining power of low- and middle-income workers at both union and nonunion businesses, has increased the share of wealth going to corporate higher-ups and shareholders.

"Straws in the wind suggest a building backlash. On Tuesday, Los Angeles approved a $15 minimum wage, joining more than 17 states and several municipalities that have raised their minimum wages since 2013. Fast food and retail employers, under pressure, have announced increases in low wages covering some 2 million workers."

Milbank says he is once again a card-carrying member of CWA Local 32035: "Rejoining the labor movement is my small, symbolic protest." Read his entire Washington Post column here.

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SEIU parents and child care providers met Wednesday, May 20 with former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to share their stories about the urgent need for affordable access to quality child care.

Across the country, hard-working parents--moms and dads, especially single parents--struggle to afford child care, while providers have to find ways to offer excellent care that is affordable while facing their own pressures to make ends meet.

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11:50 AM Eastern - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nurses Week 2015 Focus on Advocacy & Celebration #default

I hope nurses across the country took a moment during Nurses Week 2015 to celebrate and reflect on all the amazing accomplishments of the year. I was amazed and inspired as I thought about the work of SEIU nurses, from the Ebola crisis to the continued attacks on the healthcare law, we played a critical role in shaping policy and educating our communities and patients.

If you haven't already, consider sharing your story or nursing anecdote with all of us here.

As June approaches, we focus our energy on continuing to educate our colleagues and communities about what is at stake as the U.S. Supreme Court comes closer to a decision in the King v. Burwell case. The health of millions of Americans hangs in the balance and SEIU nurses have been out front on education efforts.

In this issue, we have some great information including:

  • Highlights from our Nurses Week events from across the country;

  • HHS clarifies for insurers the need to cover all approved types of contraception;

  • News on the GOP presidential candidates and their stance on healthcare; and

  • A new study by Rand that gives more evidence the healthcare law is working.

In solidarity,

Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare

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4:04 PM Eastern - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In awe of Nurses Week 2015 #default

As Nurses Week comes to a close, I sit in awe of how our Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare colleagues choose to celebrate the week by promoting quality patient care and advance the nursing profession--much in the same way we do throughout the year.

It's not just the work SEIU nurses around the country do to provide the highest standard of care at the bedside, but the work we do as patient advocates in our communities, our state capitals and in Washington, DC really sets us apart.

Here are just a few examples of how nurses took action this week:


As part of the 2015 California Nurse Alliance Legislative Conference: Safe Nurses Save Patients, nurses rallied at the capitol in Sacramento to support the California Safe Care Standards campaign. SEIU nurses are working with Cal/OSHA and others to develop an enforceable workplace violence prevention regulation for healthcare workers with common sense safeguards for all healthcare workers. Check out photos and video from the action.



Local 199 nurses in Iowa developed a series of Letters to the Editor for their local papers like this one, educating patients and the community about the benefits and protections the Affordable Care Act has delivered to patients and what is at risk as the Supreme Court considers the King v Burwell decision.

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11:55 AM Eastern - Thursday, May 7, 2015

New York wage announcement is a bold step forward, will strengthen economy for all of us #default

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that he'll use state law to impanel a Wage Board to examine the minimum wage in the fast-food industry.

The fast-food cooks and cashiers who started the Fight for $15 movement are showing how ordinary people make change happen when they stick together.

Governor Cuomo's move to set a dramatically higher standard for how people who work in fast food are paid is a bold step forward. It shows that a $15 wage floor can be a reality. It's an inspiring change not just for working New Yorkers, but for working people across the country.

More and more Americans and our elected representatives are standing up to say that it's time to stop profitable corporations from paying wages so low that they trap people in poverty.

By using our strength in numbers, the workers and families of the Fight for $15 movement are sending a message that raising wages to $15 will boost the economy, create more opportunity, and build a more balanced economy.

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9:32 AM Eastern - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Celebrate Nurses Week 2015 #default

Graphic3-NurseCollage-Blog.jpgI find the celebration of National Nurses Week particularly meaningful as I reflect on how SEIU nurses acted in the face of the significant challenges and opportunities over the last year. From the Ebola crisis to the continued attacks on the healthcare law, we never lost sight of our critical role.

I hope every nurse takes a moment this week to reflect on the amazing work we've done for patients and our profession. Please consider sharing your story or nursing anecdote with all of us here.

In March, when we celebrated the five-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, I remembered the critical moments when SEIU nurses stood shoulder to shoulder to pass and implement the law within our facilities and our communities. Nurses continue to fight to protect the law because we see the positive impact it has on our patients.

  • More Americans have healthcare coverage than at any time in last four decades.
  • Tax credits have allowed Americans, particularly Latinos, African Americans, and young people--those who typically fare the worst in our economy--to afford healthcare for their families, many for the very first time.
  • Our hospitals are more financially secure, freeing up more funds that can be invested in patient care and educating and training front-line hospital workers. It is estimated hospitals saved $5.7 billion in costs to care for uninsured individuals in 2014.
From state capitals to our nation's capital, we have also seen SEIU nurses pushing for expansion and protection of care for those most in need. We won a hard fought victory when Governor Tom Wolf accepted the federal funds set aside to provide care for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians. Nurses are also making their voices heard in a politically motivated case before the U.S. Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, that would hurt more than 8 million working Americans who rely on affordability tax credits to purchase health insurance. Three SEIU nurses joined an amicus brief filed in support of the law, and SEIU nurses from Washington to Florida flew in to make their presence felt outside the courthouse March 4 when the case was argued.

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10:43 AM Eastern - Friday, May 1, 2015

The apprenticeship model and the Fight for $15 #default

On April 24th, I and others joined Vice President Biden, Secretaries Duncan, Perez, and Pritzker, and advisors Valerie Jarrett and Jeff Zients at the Upskill Summit at the White House.

We came together with other labor leaders, foundations, employers, and technology innovators to explore partnerships that will equip our front-line workers with the skills and opportunities they need to advance in their jobs.

We're fully focused on the crisis of underpaid work in America. The fastest-growing jobs in our economy, many of which are critical to our health and well-being, are nearly all in sectors that pay less than $15 per hour. We know that a major consequence of the low-wage economy is that we are facing massive work force shortages in several industries and occupations. For example, in a mere seven years, the home care workforce responsible for providing long-term service and supports in home and community-based settings will be one million home care workers short.

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4:04 PM Eastern - Friday, April 17, 2015

Home Care Workers Leading in Southern Fight for $15 Movement #default

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It's no surprise that the states with the lowest wages, the fewest worker protections, and the least union representation are also the states with the highest rates of poverty, particularly among women and their children.


In a region referred to as the "poverty belt," politicians brag about shutting out unions, paying low wages and refusing to expand Medicaid, leaving millions of low-wage working people uninsured.


Inspired by the gains unionized home care workers have made over the last 30 years of organizing in other parts of the country, Southern home care workers have been leading the larger Fight for $15 and a union movement in the South.


In North Carolina, the state with the country's lowest union membership, home care workers do not spend much time worrying about people who say it's a waste of time to organize in the South.

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After weeks of making phone calls to other home care workers, Denise Rush, from Durham, N.C., got up at 4:30 this morning (her day off) to stand with the McDonald's workers going on strike. Then she joined hundred of other low-wage workers and supporters at other actions throughout the day and ended at a rally on Shaw University's campus where civil rights leader, the Rev. William Barber, called the fight for fair wages and union rights a fight for justice.

"I'm here today to stand up for the people who can't--for the people who are scared. We want to thrive, not just survive," Rush said.

Richmond, Virginia home care workers joined striking McDonald's workers at 6am, kicking off a full day of Fight for $15 actions. Later in the morning, home care and fast food workers were recognized from the floor of the state house for their work bringing attention to issues of economic justice. They were then joined by hundreds of other home care and fast food workers from all over the commonwealth for a rally and march through Richmond.

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In Memphis, Tenn., Mary Payne joined hundreds of other working people who are also struggling to make it on low wages. She's been a home care worker for 48 years but can't afford to retire; so at 76 years old she's still at it. Mary was out on Wednesday because she wants to make sure future generations do better and that there will be home care workers to care for people like her daughter who has cerebral palsy and will need good caregivers to live with dignity.

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In Atlanta, one of the first Southern cities where home care workers joined in the Fight for $15 last September, 1,000 people gathered on the Clark Atlanta University campus to hear why low-wage workers, such as home care provider Marie Mdamu, are fight for $15 and a union.


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Knowing that there are other home care workers and clients who aren't able to go to the actions, but want to show their support, Atlanta home care worker, Hope McCrary and her client LaKisha Senior took part in #take15for15. 

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In Florida, the state with the highest percentage of elderly residents, home care workers in Miami and Tampa joined Fight for $15 actions.


Molita Cunningham, a Miami home care worker who works with hospice patients, feels the work she does with the dying and their families is more than just a job.


Molita Miami 4.15.jpg"It's my calling," she said. "I've tried doing other work that pays more, like working in food service or retail jobs, but there's nothing more important I can do than this. This is where I shine.


"Even though I love it, it's really hard work. In the last two years I've watched more than 200 people die. I've been there for my patients and their families. They all become like my family. I cry a lot. I pray a lot. This kind of work really takes it out of you because it comes from deep within.


"I work 11-hour shifts and I try to work a lot of overtime because on $10 an hour I'm just not making it. I work hard, but I can't breathe never knowing how I'm going to pay my rent or my lights--$15 an hour means I could afford to breathe.


"I know in my heart we're going to win. I feel stronger knowing there are so many thousands of us all over the country standing together. We're going to get to $15. And we're going to keep going. People are really listening now."


To see what home care workers all over the country were doing on April 15, check out this Storify.

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From dawn to dusk in front of restaurants and on college campuses from coast to coast, tens of thousands took part in strikes and protests Wednesday in the largest mobilization of underpaid working people in modern American history.


Widespread, bold events in support of higher wages and the right to form a union show how the "Fight for $15" and a union has grown and is now a much broader social justice movement. People are standing up--not only for fast-food workers who started the push--but for child care, nursing home and home care providers, airport workers, adjunct professors, laundry employees, security officers and Wal-Mart workers.

Underpaid working people unite in
largest mobilization in modern U.S. history,
look ahead to more wage increases and policy wins

Underpaid working people unite in
largest mobilization in modern U.S. history,
look ahead to more wage increases and policy wins

Boston kicked off this wave of actions with a huge march Tuesday. For the first time, students joined in huge numbers at some 200 campuses, many standing side by side with adjunct professors.

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9:10 AM Eastern - Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Healthcare Law Turns Five #default

Fight to defend it more important than ever

On March 23, the Affordable Care Act turned 5, and what a difference it has made in the lives of our patients. I hope that you took a moment to celebrate--without you, we never would have made this happen.

The law continues to be under attack and we must continue our efforts to protect and improve it for our patients. The latest attack by the extremists in the U.S. House of Representatives came as they advanced a budget that not only would repeal the healthcare law, but also would privatize Medicare. As nurses, we know this is not the path forward for better healthcare.

In this issue, we have some great information to highlight including:

  • The latest from the Safe Care Standards Campaign in California;

  • An organizing victory for nurses in Pennsylvania;

  • News on the gender pay gap in nursing; and

  • An interview in Medscape with one of the leading physicians on the growing epidemic of pediatric liver disease.

In Solidarity,
Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare

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