Issues

Workforce
A highly skilled, robust, professional workforce is essential to providing quality service and supports for persons with disabilities and mental illness.  Low wages and limited access to benefits has resulted in, extremely high turnover in the human service workforce.  This turnover can cause gaps in services, create lack of continuity in care, and interfere with the development of positive relationships between workers and those they support.  We are committed to establishing the human services profession as a viable career path with decent wages, benefits, opportunities for growth and training, and other initiatives to recruit, train and retain a workforce that can provide high quality service and supports.
Quality Services
Our members are committed to delivering the highest quality services and supports for persons with mental health needs and developmental disabilities.  As the person with most frequent and consistent interactions with clients and consumers, human service professionals are a key link in the quality of care.  By joining their voices together and working alongside the advocacy community, human service professionals have made great strides to improve the quality of services and supports they provide.
Self Determination
Our members share a deep and demonstrated commitment to working with advocates to ensure the most inclusive and empowering services for persons with mental health needs and developmental disabilities. In 2005 SEIU joined 180 other organizations in endorsing the community imperative and has worked to transform these principles into action.  We believe people should be able to stay in their own homes and control their lives including deciding how and by whom they will receive services and support.  In states around the country we are working to expand access to consumer directed services, home and community based waivers, and increase the consumer’s control of where services are provided and who is providing them.
Funding
We envision a future where there is adequate funding for all people with mental health needs and developmental disabilities to access the service and supports they need in the setting of their choosing.  The only way to achieve this, especially in the current budget environment, is by uniting the workers, families, advocates and individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities to speak with one voice to preserve essential services and aggressively pursue new funding streams that increase access.
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Congressional Budget Puts Human Services at Risk, Frontline Workers Speak Out

Instead of making the 1% – the rich and big corporations – pay their fair share, House Republicans voted to make unprecedented and devastating cuts to essential services at a time when 99% of families can least afford it.

These service cuts would hurt millions of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. At the same time, some in Congress want to give the richest 1% and big corporations more than $4 trillion in tax cuts.

Money from the federal government is by far the single largest source of revenue for state and local governments. So what Congress does matters a lot.

Direct support professional, Cantave Pamphile, tells Congress to get its priorities straight

Cantave Pamphile, Direct Support Professional, Massachusetts

My name is Cantave Pamphile. I started this work because of the experience I had with my nephew. He has Down Syndrome and I saw what my sister was doing to take care of him. I wanted to be able to provide that assistance to others who need it. I see that if these individuals are given a hand, they can really be able to live the independent lives that they want to.

The best part of the job for me is just working with the individuals and spending time with them. We can see how much our work means to them and contributes to their well-being.

We’re often staffed just enough to maintain the proper level of care for our individuals, and there are so many more things that we could do with the individuals if we had the resources.

If funding for the individuals that we serve were cut, it would affect them a lot. There are eight individuals in the house that I work in, but we only have three staff at a time. The people that I work with need a lot of assistance, so if we were to lose just one staff person, the result would be dramatic. The whole system could fall apart.

Every one of the individuals that I work with has become a part of my family, and I feel like I’ve become a part of theirs. We spend so much time with them, making sure that they have the support they need, that it’s just natural to be close with them and their families. I can’t imagine not being a part of their lives.

Members of Congress need to hear about the individuals that I work with and how much they depend on the services that we deliver. They need to know how the work we do allows individuals to live as independently as possible, and without our work they would be left hanging.

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Remembering slain mental health provider Stephanie Moulton

Stephanie Moulton would have turned 26 years-old today.

About a year ago, the mental health provider was repeatedly stabbed to death by one of her mental health patients at the Revere facility, a Massachusetts state-run facility.

At the time of the incident Stephanie was working alone. She didn’t have a panic button, security or anything else to circumvent what took place after the patient was triggered.

Stephanie’s family, friends and SEIU Local Union 509 have since teamed up to push for legislation requiring mental health facilities to have panic button equipment for all its providers. Though one would think this would have been implemented days after Stephanie’s death, a year later this simple step in the right direction is caught up in endless committee.

While there will be statewide candlelight vigils taking place in Massachusetts today, we are calling on members and activists to send Stephanie’s family a letter of condolence, of solidarity, and if moved to do so, their own story as it relates to violence on the job. We will be certain that every response is personally delivered.

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Super-Committee FAIL: Democrats Hold Firm; Republicans Side With Millionaires

TaxBreaksforWealthy.jpgLate Monday afternoon, the congressional Super-Committee announced their failure to put forward a proposal to cut $1.2 trillion from the U.S. budget over the next 10 years.

Time and time again, the Super-Committee proved unable to reach an agreement on long-term deficit reduction for one reason and one reason only:

Republicans refused to make the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.

Despite an overwhelming majority of Americans wanting the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share, Republicans refused to budge from their stance that Bush tax cuts be preserved while cutting programs that the middle class, seniors, and most Americans depend on.

Democrats on the Super-Committee stood their ground that the rich pay their fair share or no deal. They insisted that everyone in America pay their fair share and prevented devastating cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs that millions of Americans rely on for their healthcare and livelihoods.

By rejecting the Republican proposals that came out of the Super-Committee, Democrats were expressing the views of the vast majority of Americans and standing behind them. While these efforts were able to prevent a bad deal from coming out of the Super-Committee, this fight is far from over.

“Now, it’s up to both chambers to focus on putting Americans back to work. That is the best way to reduce our deficit,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry in a statement following the announcement by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. “A cuts-only approach will not work and will end up shifting responsibility to already stretched state budgets and cost millions of jobs.”

[Read Mary Kay’s entire statement on SEIU.org here].

In a White House press briefing Monday evening, President Obama took Republicans to task for not proposing any serious deficit reduction proposals that would required shared sacrifice:

“There’s still too many Republicans in Congress who have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington. They continue to insist on protecting $100 billion worth of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans at any cost […]”

More details from the New York Times on the failure of the Super-Committee to propose a plan to identify $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions in time for the November 23rd deadline.

99-percent-facebook-badge.jpgShow your support for the 99% percent by downloading and sharing a “We are the 99%” window sign or Facebook badge.

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Cutting Medicaid Means Cutting Jobs

As the Congressional supercommittee looks for places to trim the federal budget, early reports forecast that Medicaid is on the chopping block for either direct cuts or massive cost shifting to already financially-strapped states.

What’s missing from these negotiations is the recognition of the positive value Medicaid has on the economy of every state.

Every $1 million spent on federal Medicaid funding results in 17.1  new jobs

REALITY: Medicaid benefits are not actually a major driver of the deficit. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

When it comes to job creation, investment in healthcare through Medicaid is one of the most effective and efficient forms of economic stimulus. Every dollar spent on Medicaid–whether from state or from federal sources–provides vital healthcare services to seniors, children and people with disabilities while bringing additional economic benefits and new jobs to everyone in that state.

Cutting federal spending on Medicaid, then, means cutting jobs.

Send a message to your member of Congress to focus on jobs, not cuts.

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How Proposed Cuts to Medicaid Would Cut Jobs

In the name of reducing our federal deficit, some members of the Congressional supercommittee would rather risk jobs and the lifesaving healthcare services millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children rely on than raise taxes on the richest individuals and corporations in this country.

We do not ‘need’ to cut Medicaid in order to put Americans back to work. If the proposed cuts Congress is considering become a reality, they will have the exact opposite of the desired effect – resulting in the loss of not just healthcare services but also millions of good-paying jobs.

We’ve created a chart using the Families USA “Jobs At Risk” data to provide you with a clearer picture of how cuts to Medicaid would impact jobs and state economies.

Medicaid-Cuts-crop.jpg

Check out the full chart here.

More useful resources and facts after the break on why Medicaid matters for putting Americans back to work.

Why Medicaid Matters For Jobs

The Straight Facts:

  • According to the Economic Policy Institute, the Ryan plan will cut Medicaid by $207B resulting in a private sector job loss of 2.1M over the next 5 years.
  • In another month of otherwise stagnant job growth, more than 44,000 jobs were created in the healthcare sector.
  • Every $1 million in federal Medicaid spending results in 17.1 new jobs. Cutting federal spending on Medicaid, then, means cutting jobs.
  • Healthcare continues to be a growing industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare related.
  • 3.2 million new healthcare wage and salary jobs will be generated between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry.

Resources:

Much more on how investments in Medicaid create jobs and stimulate the economy on our new campaign page: www.seiu.org/healthcare-jobs.

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Local 509 and Advocates Call on State to Put Mental Health Client and Worker Safety First

SEIU Local 509 had a very successful week working in partnership with families, the trade association, advocacy organizations, legislators, and consumers.  There was major news coverage of our call to action to improve safety measures in the state’s mental health system. Most notably was an op-ed in the Boston Globe, written in collaboration between the Presidents of both the SEIU Local 509 and the Behavioral Health Association, calling attention to the necessity that the state  implement all of the Safety Task Force recommendations.

Both our organizations and our members understand the critical importance of staff and consumer safety at DMH-funded programs. Safety is an essential condition for the success of these services in helping individuals achieve recovery. Direct care workers, providers, consumers, DMH and the Legislature need to work together to for the benefit of both consumers and staff in passage of comprehensive legislation based on the recommendations of the DMH Task Force on Staff and Client Safety.

Press coverage also included a six minute radio interview on WBUR with SEIU 509, NAMI-Mass, and the family of Stephanie Moulton, a human service worker allegedly killed by a mentally ill client. There were also two news articles on a rally spear-headed by the Moulton Family, SEIU Local 509, and The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

Here are some links to those articles:
Family of Slain Caseworker to Testify on Beacon Hill for ‘Stephanie’s Law’
Service Workers, Family of Slain Peabody Woman Rally for Statewide Safety Reform

Photo from Rally for Stepanie's Law

Photo from Rally for Stepanie

Local 509 also testified in favor of “Stephanie’s Law” at State House, as a part of an overall safety reform campaign in the mental health system.

Photo from ocmmittee hearing on Stephanies Law

Photo from committee hearing on Stephanie

This bill, named after Stephanie Moulton, would require all DMH facilities to be equipped with panic buttons. Local 509 is proud to garner support for this bill and will keep working with all stakeholders to improve all areas of safety for human service workers.

509 Members at Rally for Stephanies Law

509 Members at Rally for Stephanie

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Emergency calls needed to save Medicaid

I wanted to share this urgent message from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry

Did you hear the breaking news yesterday?

The New York Times reported on a debt ceiling deal that would make deep cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security benefits without asking for an ounce of sacrifice from corporations and millionaires.

The bill would add millions to the unemployment rolls and deny medical care to the most vulnerable among us – including many of the people SEIU members care for on a daily basis.

It’s up to us to stop this bill. You should make an emergency call to your member of Congress RIGHT NOW and tell them to stand strong against these cuts. Use this phone number:

1-877-736-7831

Together we can stop this bill with enough grassroots participation. Today, dozens of member-driven groups are pushing calls to Congress encouraging their representatives to stand strong against these outrageous cuts.

Please make the call, and we’ll keep you up-to-date on what we’re hearing in our conversations about the debt deal.

In solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry
President, SEIU

P.S. After you’ve made the call, please report what your Member of Congress said at this link:

http://action.seiu.org/debt-ceiling-calls

If you are not able to make a phone call where you are reading this, click here to send an email.

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CA Senate Votes Today on Self-Determination Bill

Today marks an important step in the political process that could give people with disabilities more control over their lives and and allow the workforce providing these services to join together in a union to improve their jobs and the program.  AB 1244 (Chesbro) is up for a vote in the Senate Committee on Human Services today.    We need to make sure the  committee stands with people with  disabilities and workers who want self-determination and votes yes on the bill.

Tell the Committee to vote yes!

Under the Self-Determination program:

  • Individuals would have the authority and  budget to control their own services and supports, and to transform their lives by focusing their individual life goals
  • Individuals could hire and manage their own direct support workers and dismiss them if it isn’t the right fit
  • Workers, employed directly by the individual, could seek to improve their jobs and the program by forming a union if they choose

The Senate Committee on Human Services is holding a vote on the bill today.  We need to make sure the committee does the right thing for people with disabilities and votes yes on this important bill.

Tell the Senate Committee on Human Services to vote yes on AB 1244.

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Senate Rejects Ryan Budget Proposal That Would Have Cut Medicaid

SEIU members across the country have been calling and emailing their Senators to reject the radical Ryan budget plan passed by the House of Representatives last month.  The plan included massive cuts to Medicaid services for 8 million Americans with disabilities in order to pay for tax cuts to corporations and millionaires.  In a stunning rebuke of the radical proposals of Representative Ryan, the Senate voted down the Ryan Budget Plan yesterday.   SEIU President Mary Kay Henry released this statement last night:

“Voters across America have been telling Congressional Republicans to focus on creating good jobs and to keep their hands off their healthcare and retirement security. Today’s vote is another indication that any budget that guts Medicare and Medicaid while extending tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations is unacceptable to the American people.

“We cannot simply cut our way to a budget solution. We need to create revenue by making corporations pay their fair share and by putting people back to work. Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, need to listen to Main Street and do their jobs. That should start by working to create good jobs for the more than 13 million Americans who need them.”

Our work is not done.  We still need a budget that protects vital human services, like Medicaid, for the Americans with disabilities who depend on them to live independent lives as part of their community.  Around the country SEIU members are working with disability advocates and community partners to call for a budget that reflects the reflects our values on Main Street, not a corporations bottom line on Wall Street.  Sign-up here to stay involved in our fight to preserve Medicaid funding.

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Stories from the field: Employment of People With Disabilities

During SEIUs 2008 Convention, our union members passed a resolution committing the resources and leadership of the union to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities in good union jobs with benefits. The following is an example shared by SEIU Local 721 member David Mulvey about how SEIU Local 1021 in California has worked to implement this resolution and part of an upcoming series of blog posts on this topic.

Derrick is a young man with autism, a developmental disability, who worked at a local hospital though his high school ROP program. Upon graduation he continued to volunteer at the hospital, but there was not an opportunity to become a paid employee. He then applied for and was accepted into Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Project SEARCH program operated by East Bay Innovations.

Derrick, an adult with autism, Project Search graduate and proud union member.

Derrick, an adult with autism, Project Search graduate and proud union member.


Derrick did well in his Project SEARCH internship assignments, but continued to talk to his job coaches about his desire to return to work at his old hospital. East Bay Innovations and Derrick’s former ROP teacher contacted Derrick’s former manager at the hospital Pete Laidlaw, (Mailroom supervisor), and Peter stated he would love to have Derrick work there again but that hospital staff were unionized and there was no job classification whose requirements Derek could meet.

Having earlier built a relationship with SEIU Local 1021 (the local that represented their staff) and knowing about the resolution. They contacted Don Evans, worksite organizer for Local 1021. Don in turn put them in touch with Bernie DeArman, worksite organizer for the hospital from SEIU UHW. EBI staff shared Derrick’s story and a copy of the resolution with Bernie who agreed to meet with the union leadership at the hospital and hospital management. Bernie was able to craft an agreement that created a new special job slot set aside for a worker with a developmental disability.

The hospital had made a commitment that this position would not replace any existing workers. And the union agreed to exempt this position from normal seniority layoff rules. Derek is now a proud union member. He earns $14.50/hr has vacation and health care benefits at his dream job at the local hospital. He has lots of friends there. His fellow employees agree he does a great job and makes his hospital a much better place to work.

There is much more work to do to create not only jobs, but jobs with good wages benefits and advancement opportunities for people with disabilities. We will continue to share our successes here on the blog. If you would like to connect with an SEIU local about how to expand employment opportunities, please contact us here through the website.

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