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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.

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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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3:12 PM Eastern - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Will you join tens of thousands of workers in the streets on April 15? #default

Join child care workers in the streets to Fight for $15 on April 15th!On April 15, child care teachers, parents, and thousands of struggling workers will be standing up and joining the Fight for $15 for higher pay and affordable child care. I'm a child care teacher and I'll be there. Will you?

I teach 14 children in an after-school program in Tampa. I teach them their times tables, play with them, and nurture them in every way so they can become productive members of our society. I became a child care provider because I love seeing the results of my efforts right in front of me in those kids' eyes, in their laughter, and in their smile. But for my hard work, I am paid less than $700 a month.

When I have $5 left, I have to decide whether to eat or get to work. I shouldn't have to make that decision. Nowadays people have just enough to get to work and nothing else.

There's no way in this country that you should have a job and not eat. There's no way you should have a job and no place to sleep.

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12:07 PM Eastern - Friday, April 3, 2015

Why McDonald's big announcement about its wages is a "weak move" #default

Three quick things...
  1. First, a reminder. Don’t forget that thousands of SEIU members and other Americans are standing up together on April 15 for higher wages that boost the economy and help communities thrive. Join us.
     
  2. Major news: an important step forward for people who work at McDonald’s. But it’s just a start. McDonald’s made a big media splash yesterday when it announced that it was raising average pay to less than $10 an hour.

    But there’s a big catch. The move actually helps very few McDonald’s workers. About 90 percent of the cooks and cashiers who serve McDonald’s food are left out and won’t get any raise at all.

    That’s why Kwanza Brooks, a woman who works at a McDonald’s in Charlotte and is a member of the Fight for $15, said the company’s announcement is “a weak move for a company that made $5.6 billion in profits last year” and a “PR stunt.”

    Yes, I'm in for $15 on 4/14!

     
  3. This is proof that we are being heard. By standing up together in the Fight for $15, ordinary people are putting some real heat on powerful corporations that want to keep wages as low as they can. It’s not an accident that McDonald’s made its announcement just one day after McDonald’s workers said they are going to go on strike on April 15.

    (More good news: the movement is growing. Earlier this week, child care workers -- who are also paid so little that many they have to live paycheck to paycheck -- broke the news that they are joining the Fight for $15 movement. And airplane cleaners, baggage handlers, and other airport workers in Philadelphia are going on strike today to call for an end to wages so low that they can’t pay their families’ bills.)
Join us all on April 15 to tell powerful corporations like McDonald’s that PR stunts aren’t enough. Let’s make sure they know that its time to raise wages so we can create prosperity and opportunity for us all.
 
See you on the 15th!

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8:50 PM Eastern - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Inspiring Evening with Boston-area Students and Workers Coming Together to Fight for $15 #default

Change happens when students and workers unite and take action. That was the spirit that carried the evening last night at Northeastern University.

I was privileged to join over 200 students from 12 schools together with fast food workers, adjunct faculty, airport workers, home care providers, and many others who are helping to explode the movement to Fight for $15.

I want to share some of the words from leaders who inspired me last night.

We heard from courageous workers like Dunkin Donuts worker, Erica Concepcion, who set the room on fire when she said, "I'm fighting for $15 now but after we win, I'll be fighting for $20."

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8:51 AM Eastern - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Infographic: How unions succeeded in making your workplace safer in the 100+ years since the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire #default

When a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan on March 25, 1911, overcrowded worktables, inadequate and locked fire exits and narrow escape passageways created a fatal inferno for the 146 people–mostly women and girls–who died.

In the aftermath of the deadly fire that could have been prevented, outraged New Yorkers, lead by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (now Workers United) fought for crucial health and safety workplace regulations that continue to protect us on the job to this day.

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Working women and men; registered nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers who provide their care; and advocates of all stripes are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Its impact is impossible to overstate: 16.4 million people with health insurance who didn't have it before, for starters. And while the law is facing its latest challenge from right-wing extremists bent on politicizing the Supreme Court of the United States, we know most Americans oppose this misguided effort.

Just days before the nine justices heard arguments in King v. Burwell, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Hart Research Associates released a poll that showed Americans not only want to keep their insurance but also want the tax credits that are questioned in this case available in all 50 states.

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2:53 PM Eastern - Monday, March 23, 2015

SEIU Janitor Inspired to Help Others, Starts Company to Benefit Immigrant Families #default

Juan MaldonadoLike many hardworking immigrants, Juan Maldonado's family came to the Bronx borough of New York City from Colombia in search of a better opportunity. His mother was a single parent of two, and accepted welfare assistance to be able to provide food and shelter for her children.

This early exposure to poverty, and all the harsh realities surrounding it, left a profound impact on Maldonado.

He recalls being a child in a supermarket with his mother, and noticing one of his friends. Maldonado begged his mom not to pay with food stamps because he feared being made fun of the following day at school.

When they finally got to the cash register, his mom gave him a hard look, almost giving rise to a tear and smiled. She paid with cash. Maldonado remembers the pain he felt inside knowing the sacrifice his mother had made. He would never forget it.

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1:22 PM Eastern - Monday, March 23, 2015

Our fight for affordable healthcare #default

It's hard to believe it has been five years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. For some of us, we were fighting for healthcare reform long before that.

Watch our video to take a look back at all we've accomplished and why we're fighting to preserve the law.

I remember in 2008 wearing my purple "I'm a Health Care Voter" T-shirt with pride when we demanded every presidential candidate have a plan to ensure access to quality affordable care for every man, woman and child.

Since the ACA became the law, I have fought for Medicaid expansion and shared with others--at community centers, farmers markets, even grocery stores--how the law works. I remember one woman from a family of seven describe how she was just "making do"--meaning they only went to the doctor when they were in crisis and rationing medication. The affordable coverage and preventive care they accessed has been life changing and it's helping them live healthier lives.

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