Long-term care

36 WI State Representatives Deserve Applause for Protecting Patient Safety

SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin (SEIUhcWI) Members successfully pushed back against this bad-idea-proposal to reduce Wisconsin CNA training standards by calling and e-mailing  members of the Wisconsin Assembly. SEIUhcWI Members spoke up together to defend patients and professions.

M Jerry for high training standards

In this photo, Marjorie Jerry, a CNA from Beloit notes, “We need to address the CNA shortage in Wisconsin to provide the care and attention that our residents deserve. My coworkers and I got into this field because we care about what we do, but we’ve seen a lot of people leave the field for higher-paying jobs. The solution to the CNA shortage is to have well-trained CNAs who are paid a living wage, not to keep wages low and decrease the quality of training we receive.”

MADISON, WI – On Wednesday, January 15, 36 members of the Wisconsin Assembly stood up to corporate special interests and voted to preserve Gov. Evers’ veto of a bill to reduce training standards for Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) by over 35% to the minimum allowed by Federal law. This left the override attempt short of the 2/3 majority required for the bill to become law.

SEIU WI State Council President Brenda Frary and SEIU Healthcare WI President Ramon Argandona made the following joint statement:

AB76 was pushed by corporate special interests as a backdoor way to keep pay low for CNAs in Wisconsin. Instead of addressing the chronically low pay of CNAs, these interests wanted to endanger patients by reducing crucial job training to equal the lowest standards in the country. This is part of a broader campaign to eliminate licensing of professionals throughout the economy in order to have less qualified workers compete with better trained workers to drive pay down.

Gov. Evers’ saw the bill for what it was and vetoed it. Today enough legislators voted against this corporate agenda to sustain that veto. As employees of a healthcare facility, we know the work that CNAs do everyday to help our patients have the best possible outcome. Instead of reducing training to keep pay low, CNAs deserve a living wage. We applaud the 36 courageous lawmakers who stood up for patients and caregivers.


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Increase CNA Pay To Attract Workers; Don’t Lower Training Standards!

Thank you Governor Tony Evers for standing with Wisconsin CNAs, our members and the patients they serve.

The shortage of CNAs in Wisconsin exists because these workers perform critical work—often for long, irregular hours—for unjustifiably low pay. This conversation should be about fair wages, not lowering standards.

Gov. Evers vetoes CNA training hours bill

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed a Republican bill that would have made it easier to become a certified nurse’s assistant in Wisconsin.

If approved, the bill would have prevented state health officials from requiring CNA training to exceed 75 hours, which is the federally-required minimum amount. Current Wisconsin laws require CNAs to complete at least 120 hours of training.

In vetoing the measure on Wednesday, Governor Evers says he is against less training for those who care for Wisconsin’s most-vulnerable residents.

Sen. Rob Cowles (R), one of the bill’s co-authors, released a statement following the veto saying in part that the measure was an attempt to create more health care positions in the state. Sen. Cowles stated in part, “This legislation is needed more than ever to address the CNA shortage, especially in our rural and northern communities.”


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Protect Training Standards for Health Care Workers

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) provide essential bedside care to patients and gather vital information necessary for nurses and physicians. They work in a wide variety of environments, from hospitals to nursing homes and even in patients’ own homes. Wisconsin joins 30 states and the District of Columbia in having a training standard higher than the federal government, but politicians in Madison want to lower CNA training standards in Wisconsin. A bill designed to cut training hours is moving in our legislature.

On Wednesday, May 15, the Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to vote on AB 76, a bill that would cut the educational training hours for CNAs nearly in half.

Click here to protect current training standards for Certified Nursing Assistants. Tell your legislators you oppose lowering CNA educational training hours with AB 76 and its companion bill SB 103.

Having high training standards and receiving high marks for healthcare quality are not unrelated. In fact, they are very closely linked. Having a highly trained workforce ensures that workers are performing at high levels, ensuring a high standard of patient care.

To combat CNA shortages, the answer is to raise pay. Currently, CNAs are some of the lowest paid healthcare workers and they have increased responsibilities to care for our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents, the frail, and the vulnerable. Their work is difficult and often backbreaking – CNAs suffer high rates of workplace injuries.

The important jobs CNAs do should be valued at a higher rate by making improvements in their pay, working conditions, and staffing ratios. This is the only solution to the CNA shortage – not cutting training requirements.

The hasty and reckless public policy proposal to cut training requirements in half for CNAs has the potential to send insufficiently trained CNAs into positions where their lack of training could put patient care in danger.

Tell your legislators to keep current training standards for CNAs. Take action to oppose gutting CNA education and training hours today.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President, Wisconsin AFL-CIO
Dennis Delie, Secretary-Treasurer, Wisconsin AFL-CIO

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Medicare and Medicaid Important For WI Patients and Health Care Workers!

*** Can we afford fewer staff, longer hours, and lower wages?
*** Can our patients and residents afford lower-quality care?

  • Over 1 million Wisconsinites depend on Medicare to pay for hospital visits and medical expenses. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018)
  • 6 out of 10 nursing home residents depend on Medicaid to fund their long-term care. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017)

Patients, Residents & Health Care Workers depend on these programs!

$537 billion in cuts to Medicare. $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.

This is what Congress proposed in June 2018 to pay for new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

“House GOP plan would cut Medicare, Medicaid to balance budget,” The Washington Post (June 19, 2018)
Your Vote Counts
Your Vote Counts

Over $1 billion in Medicaid funding for Wisconsin…

Rejected by Scott Walker

“Fiscal Effect of Full Medicaid Expansion,” WI Legislative Fiscal Bureau (April 3, 2017)

Early in-Person Voting Has Started, to learn where visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyMunicipalClerk

VOTE to protect Health Care and Health Care Workers!

Registered to vote? Visit:  Myvote.wi.gov


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SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin Care Givers Speakout Against the Looming Crisis in Caregiving

2016 8 25 Crisis in Caregiving Speakout

About a dozen certified nursing assistants (CNAs) gathered outside a Milwaukee-based health care management group to call attention to the crisis looming in the long-term care industry: Low wages are forcing workers out of nursing at the same time the demographic trend lines show Wisconsin’s aging population is growing and will increasingly need skilled nursing services in the years to come.

The current median starting wage for personal caregivers in Wisconsin is $10.75, according to a report compiled by industry groups. The low pay has led to workers leaving the industry for better pay and the remaining CNAs at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities struggling to make ends meet while working a stressful job tending to frail elderly and the disabled.

Just last year, an estimated 10,600 caregivers in the state may have left for better positions outside of health care, according to data analyzed by LeadingAge Wisconsin, Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living, Wisconsin Assisted Living Association and Residential Services Association of Wisconsin.

The groups found that one in seven caregiving staff positions in Wisconsin is unfilled. Long-term care facilities and nursing homes are filling the gap by refusing to take on new patients and requiring their staff to work more hours or double shifts.

“As I’ve worked as a CNA for 20 years I find it’s gotten harder and harder due to shortage of staff,” said Milwaukee-based CNA Kent Robinson at Thursday’s rally, organized by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. “We have to take care of a lot of people, sometimes 13 or 14 people per shift. This means we only have 35 minutes per resident in an eight-hour shift. Thirty-five minutes is not enough to do care. It’s not enough for us. We can’t sit down and talk to the residents. We can’t take them outside and do things to make their life feel more enjoyable.”

A Looming Crisis in Long-Term Care

The shortage of skilled caregivers could become a crisis in the near future.

Currently, about one in seven Wisconsinites is over the age of 65. But that will tick up to one in four Wisconsinites in the next 30 years, leading to an increasing reliance on personal caregivers.

“It’s really important that we get a handle on this because one day there might not be health care workers to provide care to our infirm,” said Dian Palmer, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin president.

Also putting pressure on long-term care facilities is Wisconsin’s low Medicaid reimbursement rate.

The industry groups pointed to a recent independent report for the American Health Care Association (AHCA) showing that Wisconsin’s Medicaid reimbursement system is the worst in the country. The report found that Wisconsin’s skilled nursing facilities had a Medicaid deficit of $331.8 million in 2014-2015, meaning these facilities lost that amount of money caring for their residents covered by federal and state Medicaid funds. That translates into a projected loss of $52.84 each day for each Medicaid patient in 2015. The national average is a $22.46 Medicaid shortfall per day in 2015, according to the AHCA.

The current state budget does not include a Medicaid rate increase for nursing facilities, although providers requested a 5% increase to make up for some of the Medicaid shortfall.

State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee), a member of the Legislature’s Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, highlighted the Medicaid reimbursement problem when speaking to the SEIU CNAs on Thursday. Brostoff is advocating for a Medicaid wage pass-through, which would designate some Medicaid funds for increasing workers’ wages.

“We need a wage pass-through so that we can have working families get taken care of so that they can take care of our working families, so that you guys are getting adequate compensation, getting paid, and also that people will want to come into the profession,” Brostoff said.

The CNAs gathered outside of Fortis Management Group in Downtown Milwaukee to call attention to the need to pay their workers a living wage. (The Fortis Management Group is in no way connected to the Shepherd’s publisher, Louis Fortis.) SEIU is currently bargaining a new contract for about 500 Fortis CNAs employed throughout the state and the workers say they would like to see a path to $15 an hour included in the new agreement.

Kim Mackle, a longtime CNA from Sheboygan, said $15 an hour would help ease the financial and emotional stress that she and her fellow workers face as they care for their frail elderly and disabled residents.

“Good happy employees make for a great work environment and a happier home for our residents,” Mackle said.

Fortis Management Group could not be reached for comment.


Aug. 30, 2016
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Nursing Assistants are speaking up together to deliver best care for patients, residents and to promote important jobs!

We care for your mother, your father. We care for your son, your daughter. We care for those who cannot care for themselves. Our patients and residents need our expertise to ensure their safety and dignity.

Continue Reading HERE

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More Health Care Workers join growing movement for respect and a voice to provide nursing home residents quality care!

2014 1 23 Birchwood Workers Winning Together1CNAs at Birchwood Health and Rehabilitation Center in Milwaukee are now represented by SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. On January 23rd, Birchwood caregivers voted 32-16 and will soon begin negotiations for their first SEIUhcWI union contract! Birchwood Workers have joined the effort with SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin to increase low wage worker pay!

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Golden Living LPNs Unanimously Vote “Union Yes!”

Yesterday, LPNs at Golden Living Colonial Manor Nursing Home voted unanimously “Union Yes!”
to join together in SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. Together, they are uniting for a strong voice in the workplace. These LPNs recognize that together we can work towards better conditions for all healthcare workers through safer staffing, better pay, improved scheduling, and input into the decisions that affect the quality of care we provide.

“I became a LPN because I wanted to make a difference. I voted YES for the union so every resident gets the quality care they deserve.”

— Richard Martin, LPN

“As one person, I am powerless. We need a voice of representation — that is why I voted yes for the union!”—Annie Tate, LPN

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Four victories for HCWI members!

In a time of economic uncertainty, and scaled back federal and state funds, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin was able to negotiate a fair contract for our members at Gunderson Lutheran Hospital, Kindred Nursing Homes, Hartford Care Center, and University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Some highlights include:

  • 1.5% wage increases across the board for our members at Gunderson Lutheran, with scheduled increases in 2013 and 2014. We also won the facility’s first ever weekend differential of $1.50 per hour for the hours of Friday midnight to Sunday midnight. Union orientation has been increased from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, which will greatly help us build a strong union with new employees.
  • Mounting community pressure and staying strong at the bargaining table, HCWI members got management at Kindred Nursing Homes (Colonial Manor, Eastview, and Northridge Nursing Homes) to drop their dangerous proposal to lower the regular shift hours from 8 to 7 ½ hours.  This reduction in hours didn’t just affect the caregivers – it would have reduced the quality of care for every resident. This is a major victory for safe resident care.
  • Workers successfully maintained union security at Hartford Care Center. We also prevented takeaways and successfully negotiated bonuses and an extra day of vacation for our members.
  • Last month, workers at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics succesfully negotiated a nurse clinical recognition program as well as an across the board wage increase of 1.3% the first year and 1.2% the second year. In addition we negotiated the continuation of anniversary adjustments with an average 1.7% increase per year.

SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin remains committed to advancing the rights of our members and working people in our state. As these contract victories prove, SEIU HCWI has the strength to win when we all work together. If you’re interested in helping build our union and/or information on how to join our member organizers campaign, please contact the union office closest to you.

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Victory for Caregivers & Residents at Kindred Nursing Homes

Members and residents at Kindred Nursing Homes won a major victory. Management at Kindred Nursing Homes had proposed to lower the regular shift hours from 8 to 7 ½ hours.  This reduction in hours didn’t just affect the caregivers – it would have reduced the quality of care for every resident.  Unsafe staffing levels aren’t just dangerous for the staff; they lead to an increase in falls, accidents and other preventable conditions like lower fluid intake, urinary tract infections, and skin breakdowns.

 Here’s what some of our members had to about how this proposal would have affected quality care they can provide:

 Mary, CNA, 15 years: “I pride myself on providing quality care to each of my residents.  I can only do that if I am given adequate time and information on each of my residents.  This includes a complete report on the residents’ plan of care including any changes in condition.  Without a complete report, I am jeopardizing my resident and my license.


Vicki, CNA, 11 years: “Our one-on-one time with residents will be significantly reduced. Previously we had fifteen minutes per resident to get them dressed and ready in the morning, now we’ll only have seven minutes per resident.  I care so deeply about my residents.  Seven minutes is just not enough time to get frail elderly dressed.  Only someone who has never cared for a resident in a nursing home would think this is right.”


April, CNA, 3 years:  “I fear that I will not be able to take care of each of my residents during the shift.  What happens to them if I can’t get to all of them?  I am only human and can only do so much.  Management is asking us to do super human work.  My residents deserve the best possible care.  That’s just not possible with the hours reduction.  This is unacceptable.”


Mounting community pressure and staying strong at the bargaining table, HCWI members got management to drop their proposal and keep the current shift. This policy will help caregivers at these homes provide the best possible care for the residents. 

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