* Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is apparently playing hardball with SEIU over a union contract covering 50,000 childcare and home care workers. Negotiations began Monday, even though the contract expires June 30th. Rauner’s opening offer was pretty harsh. From a union insider…
Rauner wants to take away virtually all union benefits that have been bargained for by these employees over the years, including health care, for tens of thousands of low-wage workers. These employees don’t get state-insurance, by the way, but belong to a union-funded plan. Taking health insurance away would represent a real hardship for them.
What’s more, Rauner is demanding that his administration stop collecting dues from workers, a time-tested union-busting tactic.
He’d also cut training-which would adversely affect the quality-of-care for countless seniors and persons with disabilities.
Additionally, as if this were one of his newly-acquired private equity properties, he wants to convert these workers into “independent contractors.” He also wants to remove the state’s neutrality position on the union and make it much harder for workers and the union to communicate.
And even though the contract expires on June 30th, no further talks have been scheduled until - get this - June 23rd.
What a summer this is gonna be.
* SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Vice President April Verrett, by the way, just issued a press release…
Bruce Rauner’s anti-worker efforts to eliminate bargained-for benefits and protections for home care workers and child care providers would deliberately submerge low-wage workers deeper into poverty.
What the state proposed on the governor’s behalf on Monday, May 18, has NOTHING to do with the public good or budget savings Rauner claims and everything to do with diminishing the voices of working families, punishing political opponents and gathering power. His unprecedented and hostile proposals — which include stripping health care from thousands of workers — would have a devastating impact on the tens of thousands of low-income workers and their families and put the tens of thousands seniors and children who depend on them at risk.
In addition to totally eliminating access to health coverage for workers, Rauner’s team also proposed eliminating essential training like CPR and eliminating the right of workers to have union dues deducted from their paycheck.
Let’s be clear: The people whom Gov. Rauner is willing to harm with this attack are low-wage workers, most of them women and people of color who are hovering at or in poverty. Their rights and benefits have been supported over the years by legislators and governors of BOTH parties.
What’s more, these workers fought for years for health coverage, training and professional development and the right to have a union. Gov. Rauner’s proposals set workers back and put seniors, people with disabilities, parents who depend on affordable child care and other vulnerable populations further at risk.
Refusing to collect dues and interfering with the ability of workers to communicate with their union has nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with an extreme ideology that has been rejected on a bipartisan basis.
Bruce Rauner has not brought a reasonable deal to the table and has declared war on care providers, many of them who struggle to make ends meet, and on the communities they serve.
While his ultra-wealthy donors enjoy his special protection, Bruce Rauner instead is willing to hurt the working families of Illinois and the most vulnerable among us.
I asked the governor’s office for a response a few hours ago and haven’t heard back. I’ll let you know if they say anything.