October 11, 2016

SEIU holds Press Conference—and sends postcard for “Free” $10 Training?

Dear Fellow PCAs,

My name is Catherine Hunter.

I am a Mom and a PCA. I was invited by Kris Greene and other PCAs at MNPCA.org to join their effort to call for a new Union election so we can protect the PCA Choice Program by decertifying the SEIU.

I am so glad to be part of this effort.

If you want to know why, please watch this new video about my family.

Three things happened in the past week or so: First, the SEIU sent out postcards about “Free Trainings” that also attacked our effort at MNPCA. Second, the SEIU held a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday to kick off new contract negotiations. Third, SEIU hosted contract negotiations Friday morning, Sept. 30. MNPCA will be sending another update about what we learned at the negotiations later.

First, the SEIU sent out a postcard notice about “Free Trainings” last week.

Kris Greene, the face of MNPCA, did not get the postcard. I did not get the postcard. But a friend of ours did. So we called the SEIU to get details.

I had a pretty good experience, was told, “Sure” I could attend and so on.

Kris had to wait 17 minutes on hold, then was told, “The training was secured through collective bargaining, but to keep the funding we need members…so I can sign you up right now to be a member.” Kris had to ask her if it was open to non-union members a few times, “Just to verify because the first time she answered it made it sound like I needed to be a member. She was quick to want to sign me up to be a member before she wanted to sign me up for the first aid class. She also said they won’t have any more trainings unless people sign up as dues-paying members.

Two other people called and were told it was only open to PCAs who are members of the SEIU so I am very confused!

None of this makes any sense since the Choice PCA “trainings” are completely funded by Minnesota taxpayers (at a cost of $250,000 a year). They are for things like CPR and First Aid. Then there are the on-line options that have been around for years.

But under the law, the union is still the Exclusive Representative of all Choice PCAs, so we all should have received a postcard. And I should be welcome at trainings that are funded by Minnesota taxpayers without any pressure to pay dues to SEIU.

That is why all 27,000 need to send their Election Authorization Card ASAP. We need 30% of PCAs to call for the election but why not go for 90%?

One more thing, the “free” training requires a $10 registration deposit that you get back if you complete the training. That means you have a little skin in the game, I get that. But it also means you may be giving out private contact and credit card info over the phone. Not such a good idea.

Question: Are these “Free Trainings” just a tax-payer funded opportunity for the SEIU to push union members to pay dues –which they do NOT have to do because the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that we are not really “state employees?”

Folks, this is what it means to have the SEIU “represent us” at the Capitol.

We are not at the table but they are speaking for us and our families or clients! And using the trainings to pressure us to pay dues.

Did you get the postcard? Are these trainings valuable to you? Please make us a friend on Facebook so we can talk to one another! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/MNPCA.org/

Second, the SEIU held a news conference at the Senate Office Building. We just stumbled on this by chance on Wednesday morning—and changed plans for the day to get there. (There was a PCA there who talked to MPR News but we did not get to meet her. Please reach out so we can say hello!)

SEIU ran the press conference but then handed out a memo from DHS dated September 28, 2016 that was aimed at “Attendees, Direct Care/Support Workforce Summit, Organizational representations, Summit Advisory Committee, and Persons who have expressed an interest in this topic via email.” Then they announced that contract negotiations would begin today, Friday September 30th. Only select SEIU members and clients will be invited.

The DHS memo at the SEIU press conference yesterday outlined five things that came out of a survey of 1,100 PCAs and 181 clients.

Did you receive a survey? If you did, have you joined SEIU (or not)? I am pretty sure only SEIU members were at the table with DHS but we want to be sure of our facts.

DHS says this is what came out of a Summit and the Surveys—and this is what SEIU says it is seeking:

-Increase workers’ wage and/or benefits

-Expand the worker pool

-Enhance direct care/support worker training

-Increase job satisfaction

-Conduct a public awareness campaign

By the way, you can sign up for these DHS emails at [email protected]

Remember. This PCA program has been funded by the Legislature for decades. Everything we have received, and everything we get under the SEIU contract, still comes from the Legislature (and Congress via Medicaid), not the union.

All of these things are achievable through legislation.

So it is an illusion that we are “collectively bargaining” with DHS. And the fact the DHS and SEIU are acting in concert, without talking to all PCAs, underlines that fact.

Sadly, there are thousands of PCAs who are giving the SEIU 3% of their gross wage to spend on politics. That means SEIU is taking millions from PCAs.

The most recent Federal LM-2 filing by SEIU seems to suggest that there are 5,000 dues-paying members. If they are all paying full dues, that’s $4.7 million in revenue every year to SEIU. That’s $4.7 million from low-income PCAs.

We need a voice, and a voice that is independent of DHS. SEIU is not that voice.

Please send in your Election Authorization Card today—and ask every PCA you know to do the same thing!

Then let’s start talking about how we can find our own eyes, ears and voice at the Capitol. I think we could do it for less than $4.7 million.


Catherine Hunter