The St. Clair County Circuit Court has ruled in favor of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which was granted a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger. The ruling issued late Wednesday (attached) protects health insurance for nearly 5,000 low-wage home healthcare workers in Illinois. The home healthcare workers serve adults with disabilities in Illinois’ Home Services Program. (Case No. 15 CH 475.)
Despite a contract requiring the State of Illinois to contribute health insurance benefits for home healthcare workers, Gov. Rauner refused to pay the State’s contribution to the workers’ health fund. Rauner’s administration owes the health fund $1.5 million from fiscal year 2015, as well as approximately $11.8 million for work already performed for the months of July through October in fiscal year 2016. If Gov. Rauner failed to honor the State’s contractual obligations to continue health contributions, workers would have lost all of their health insurance after December 31st, 2015.
The state’s 52,000 home healthcare and child care workers-the largest bloc of workers in Illinois-continue to work without a contract.
In response to the temporary restraining order, Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the St. Clair County Circuit Court ruling to protect our home healthcare workers from a potentially devastating economic and health crisis.
“The Court’s ruling is yet another major rebuke to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s extreme agenda and another example of Rauner’s failure in leading and managing Illinois’ finances, contracts and basic state operations.
“Lisa Viti, a home healthcare worker in Berwyn, suffers from diabetes and extremely high blood pressure and must take eight medications daily. She is among thousands of other home care workers whose health insurance was protected by the Court’s ruling. If Gov. Rauner had been successful in stripping away Ms. Viit’s health insurance that she currently gets from the health fund, her life-saving prescriptions would have cost more than $1,000 a month, forcing Ms. Viti to choose between her health or losing her own home. This is an example of Gov. Rauner’s agenda in a nutshell.
“Let’s not forgot how we got here. Gov. Rauner chose to use low-wage home healthcare workers, and their health insurance and economic security, as ‘leverage’ for his extreme anti-worker and political agenda.
“Gov. Rauner manufactured the State’s ongoing government shutdown for over five months now with no resolution in sight. But then Rauner claimed he had no budget authority to pay money into the health fund, putting workers, their families, and adults with disabilities in jeopardy and potentially devastating our vital workforce.
“Rauner’s attempt to manipulate and gamble with peoples’ livelihoods and health security is utterly reprehensible. Rauner’s actions show how little he cares about the struggles of low-wage workers and families in Illinois and how willing he is to use them as pawns in his political game.”
I’ll let you know if there’s an administration response.