Minnesota home health care workers vote to unionize

Author:
Updated:
Original:

In what has been described as the largest union vote in state history, home health care workers in Minnesota have voted to unionize.

The workers, also referred to as personal care assistants, help the elderly and people with disabilities in their homes.

Of the 5,872 votes that were cast, 3,543, or 60 percent, were in favor of unionizing and 2,306 were opposed, according to results announced Tuesday by the Service Employees International Union. The union effort needed a simple majority of the votes to pass.

The workers will be represented by the SEIU, which will bargain with the state of Minnesota on wage and benefit issues.

Although only about 22 percent of the 27,000 eligible workers voted during the 25-day ballot period, union organizers called the outcome a great success at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the Star Tribune reports.

"We now have a union. We are now not invisible anymore," said Debra Howze, a PCA from Minneapolis, according to MPR News.

PCAs typically earn low wages and have no benefits, and there's a high turnover rate for workers who care for non-family members.

“Workers deserve things like fair pay, better training and paid time off," said Rosemary Van Vickle, a home care worker from Crosby, saying that home care workers don't get the respect they deserve.

The unionization campaign has been going on for the past year or so, ever since the Legislature passed a law authorizing them to pursue collective bargaining.

One opponent, State Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, issued a statement questioning whether the vote was a true representation of how home care workers feel, since so few of them sent in a ballot.

“There are significant concerns about the conduct of this election given that barely one in 10 affected providers supported public sector unionization, but any regulations agreed to between the union and state could affect all care providers," Mack said.

The vote took place after a judge denied a request last week to stop it. Nine home health care workers had filed suit last month seeking to block the union vote, saying the law that authorized it was unconstitutional. The judge ruled that their lawsuit was premature. But now that the union election is over, that legal challenge will likely continue.

Not all home health workers will be covered by the union. It only applies to those who care for clients as part of certain government-subsidized programs within the state's Medical Assistance program, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

State subsidized child care providers were also covered by the 2013 law authorizing union votes and they, too, have a pending lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of such a vote.

Next Up

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Watch: Gopher alums Antoine Winfield Jr., Tyler Johnson make key plays in Bucs' playoff win

The Minnesota greats had a pair of highlights as Tampa Bay advanced to the NFC Championship.

Er-hgw7XYAQup5n

Crews respond to fire at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights

It's reported that a greenhouse on the grounds was on fire.

Marcus Carr

Why the Gophers could be in line for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament

The Gophers are done with a brutal stretch and are poised to make a run.

police tape

Authorities ID man fatally struck by 'errant bullet' in Willmar

The man was working in his garage when he was fatally shot.

ambulance

1 dead, 1 critically injured in head-on crash on Highway 169

The State Patrol says driving impaired may have been a factor in the crash.

Richard Pitino

Gophers game against Nebraska postponed due to COVID outbreak

The Cornhuskers have had 12 members of its team test positive for COVID-19.

Bob Kroll

What Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll said in Sunday radio interview

Kroll said that once he's retired he'll go "radio silent."

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, covid-19

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for Sunday, January 17

The health department provides updates daily at 11 a.m.

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.

Willmar Police Department

'Errant bullet' goes through garage wall, kills Willmar man

The man was working in his garage when he was shot, witnesses said.

Related