Home Care Worker Patricia Evans: 'The entire country needs us to make a living wage'SEIU Healthcare Illinois member Patricia Evans, a home care worker from Chicago, told a Capitol Hill briefing on "Long Term Services and Supports: The Workforce Challenge" the nation needs its working people to make a living wage.

"We work hard and we deserve a living wage; people who work ought to be able to support their family. These are a few reasons why we deserve a raise. But it's not just about us. There are reasons why everyone else needs us to make a living wage.

"The baby boomers, their family, and friends need us to make a living wage. The entire country needs us to make a living wage.

"In August of this year, Standard and Poor's issued a report stating 'severe income inequality is holding back economic growth in the U.S.' As I tell my co-workers, 'that means us being underpaid.'

"It is both our responsibility and duty as citizens of this country to demand the salary we earn. Historical evidence demonstrates that whenever the minimum wage is increased, it is followed by an increase in the economy. When a minimum wage worker gets a salary increase, they do not hide it in an offshore account to avoid paying taxes on it. They spend it. They take their kids out for a meal or the movies. They purchase all those things they've postponed buying because there's never enough money. My friend, Danielle, would enroll her son in his school's football program and her daughter in dance classes--and not have to worry if she could still put food on the table. Our spending would create jobs, not destroy them."

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12:07 PM Eastern - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#RaiseAmerica with Good Jobs:
Justice for Janitors

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9:41 AM Eastern - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ebola: Information for Front-Line Caregivers #default

We can stop the Ebola virus. Nurses have always been on front lines caring for patients with infectious disease and have a critical role to play as part of the healthcare teams that will control the spread of this infectious virus. We will ensure healthcare workers on the front lines are trained to identify the virus and safely care for patients, the public and our colleagues.

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry released a statement calling on employers to support and prepare healthcare and service workers who are on the front lines to beat this virus. Read her statement here.

SEIU Healthcare will continue to coordinate efforts with hospitals, clinics and other workplaces to ensure our fellow workers across the country are prepared and have access to the most up-to-date information--click here to visit the SEIU Ebola informational website.

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4:46 PM Eastern - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mary Kay Henry to Gawker Readers: Stakes Are High for Working Families #default

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry participated this morning in a live chat on the news, politics, media and "talk of the town" website Gawker. Answering readers' questions about the 2014 vote--and how working families will head to the polls to support candidates who are committed to making the economy work for everyone, not just the wealthy few--Mary Kay shared her thoughts on the economy and what working people are doing to fight back.

Mary Kay told Gawker that America's economic system favors big business and the wealthy few. She shared her thoughts on the economy and what working people are doing to fight back Tuesday with the "talk of the town" website's readers.

Noting that Mary Kay Henry is "one of the most influential and politically active labor leaders in America" and that SEIU "is playing a large role in organizing the ongoing push to increase wages for fast-food workers and Wal-Mart workers. The 2 million-member international union is... advocating for universal health care, immigration reform, gay rights and, perhaps most importantly, more money for working Americans," Gawker invited its visitors to ask Mary Kay about "labor, inequality, politics, organizing or anything else."

In response to a question by a worker who is employed by a "conservative company" and frequently debates her co-workers about the benefits of unionism, Mary Kay replied: "We are in a system that has been rigged in favor of the wealthy and corporations--so while people THINK that it is every person for themselves, in reality, it's a system that subsidizes corporations [that pay low wages] with taxpayer dollars and gives huge tax breaks to billionaires and corporations."

When asked about the recent wave of strikes by working men and women who are not paid a fair wage, Mary Kay said: "Working people are creative both in making ends meet and in standing up what they deserve ... . Wherever workers want to organize, we will be there to support them."

Mary Kay had the opportunity to discuss everything from:

Election Work: "We've got 300 members working full time recruiting 25,000 to volunteer for this election and we're working with strategic partners inside and outside labor"...

...to Wisconsin Politics: "By the way, Mary Burke has Scott Walker on the ropes in Wisconsin and voters are poised to hold him accountable"...

...to Thanksgiving Dinner: "Challenge your friends and family at the Thanksgiving table this year to stand with workers."

When asked about the recent wave of strikes by working people who are not paid a fair wage, Mary Kay said, "Working people are creative both in making ends meet and in standing up for what they deserve.... Wherever workers want to organize, we will be there to support them."

Read the entire discussion on Gawker.

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3:03 PM Eastern - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Castaneda Brings Support and Encouragement to Typhoon-Damaged Philippines Communities #default

In the towns of Tanauan and Tacloban in the hard-hit Philippines province of Leyte, SEIU 1199 Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castaneda checked on the progress of the rehabilitation and rebuilding projects necessitated by last year's Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which was one of the strongest tropical disturbances ever recorded.

Castaneda Brings Support and Encouragement to Typhoon-Damaged Philippines Communities

Castaneda attended the "blessing of the boats" and their turnover to a community group called the Bangon Magay Association, and visited the damaged Maribi Elementary School. The school is being rebuilt with the support of The Malaya and Tala Fund, a partner of SEIU. The school building was destroyed during the super-typhoon and students have been occupying tents as temporary learning facilities.

Castaneda Brings Support and Encouragement to Typhoon-Damaged Philippines Communities

SEIU also donated 20 "trisikad" units to a pair of community groups in Tacloban City, Leyte. Trisikads are pedestrian cabs commonly used by Philippines travelers. The typhoon had destroyed the beneficiaries' vehicles, forcing the trisikad drivers to rent pedi-cabs for 60 pesos a day to continue their livelihood. They were earning only five pesos per ride, so the rental took a major bite from their daily income.

Watch the video of the reconstruction efforts on YouTube.

Read Inquirer.net coverage of Maria Castaneda's visit.

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12:32 PM Eastern - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our country needs a big dose of education justice #default

early-learning-voter-final3.jpgEvery day, family child care providers, center workers and Head Start teachers are speaking up to take action with elected officials and create change in their communities.

Yet the work to ensure all children have access to a quality, affordable education continues. And far too many of our families are struggling to make ends meet in this economy.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We live in a country of tremendous wealth and resources. If we start making the right investments, our children will grow up to be a smart and productive generation of Americans. We've been so inspired by fast-food workers and their Fight for $15 and a union to provide for their families. That's why providers and parents are leading the charge to raise standards and wages in early learning so they can support their families, too.

Let your family and friends know you're stepping up to join the fight for early learning and child care this Election Day. Share this badge on your Facebook page now.

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4:23 PM Eastern - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Victory for Missouri Home Care Workers! #default

Victory for Missouri Home Care Workers!

After almost a year of bargaining, Missouri home care workers have reached a historic agreement with the state's Quality Home Care Council that will raise wages from an average of $8.58 per hour up to $10.15 per hour for many. Home care workers will also receive holiday pay for the first time.

This victory comes just a week after hundreds of home care workers met at the Home Care Workers Rising summit in St. Louis and rallied to demand Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon raise wages. More than a hundred home workers united in SEIU's Home Care Fight for $15 - both union and nonunion - attended the summit.

The agreement allows consumers to determine the wages of their home care workers. Choosing from a "wage range" of $8.50 to $10.15, consumers will be directly involved with workers and the union. The Missouri Home Care Union bargaining team viewed this unique proposal as a way to strengthen the relationship between better jobs and quality care.

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4:35 PM Eastern - Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola: Partnering with Healthcare Workers Is Step One #default

It comes as no surprise in our global transportation age that the Ebola virus--once isolated to Western Africa--would eventually reach the United States. But this week we were deeply concerned by the diagnosis of not just one, but two healthcare workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Now, our challenge is to share up-to-date information and collaborate in the way that all public health crises demand, to contain the Ebola virus and keep front-line healthcare workers and their patients healthy.

We urge employers to take responsibility for worker, patient and consumer safety, and institute protocols and a tailored worksite plan that don't just meet, but exceed current recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Effective worksite plans should:

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Home Care Workers Launch Fight for $15; demand politicians do whatever it takes to raise worker pay

Roxanne Trigg, a 42-year-old home care worker from Milwaukee, who cares for her mother, is ready to Fight for $15.

"I'm tired of working hard only to penny-pinch my way through life. I take pride in the care I provide my clients and I deserve a life out of poverty," she said. "I am not alone. I'm more determined than ever to win $15 for all home care workers in Wisconsin and across the country."

Trigg joined one of a dozen actions this week calling for politicians to support $15 per hour and a union for home care workers. She rallied with home care and fast-food workers calling out Gov. Scott Walker, who recently said about the minimum wage, "I don't think it serves a purpose."

In contrast to Walker's out-of-touch declaration, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) met with Illinois home care workers and signed a pledge to support $15/hour and a union.

Home Care Workers Launch Fight for $15; demand politicians do whatever it takes to raise worker pay

"Home care workers hold some of the most important jobs in our country, caring for older Americans and people with disabilities by providing critical services like bathing, dressing and preparing meals," said Schakowsky.

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10:42 AM Eastern - Friday, October 17, 2014

Can I count on you on November 4? #default

Pledge to vote on November 4I've been a home care worker for four years. Even though I get up and go to work every day to help people with disabilities live at home with dignity, I'm always in the red at the end of the month. I'm 34 years old—but I had to move back in with my mom because I couldn't afford food, rent and utilities on my own.

Too many working people are facing similar struggles and that's why I'm committed to voting this November 4th.

This election is about lifting up families. We've got to be able to count on each other to turn out to the polls so we can get that done.

Click here to join me and pledge to vote on November 4 for candidates that stand with working families.

Where I live in Illinois, we also have a chance to vote "yes" to raising the minimum wage. An increase to the minimum wage would help a lot of families in my west side Chicago neighborhood, including home care workers. If we can raise wages for folks at the bottom, everyone else would have more power to bargain for a raise.

In this country, someone making the minimum wage earns $290 a week. You and I both know that's not enough to feed a family and pay all the bills, let alone buy your kids winter coats as temperatures began to dip to freezing.

Take the pledge to vote this Election Day on November 4, 2014.

Election Day is coming, and there's a lot at stake. We need to change the direction of the country so everyone who works hard for a living can support their families without having to live on the brink--and this change starts at the ballot box. Will we elect candidates who'll raise wages and create good jobs or ones who'll give more tax breaks to corporations and CEOs?

Let's stand together and win this one in November.

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