News

2021 Together For New Oakwood Contract

We are stronger as one voice speaking with Oakwood management. Together as SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, we talk about and advocate for fair pay, good benefits, safety and great jobs. The contract we reached with Oakwood management a few years ago expires early next year.

We are starting preparations for a new agreement about our wages, benefits and working conditions at Oakwood. Nominate who you think will best represent you and your co-workers to the bargaining team. Nominations must be received by 5pm on Thursday, October 15th. Bargaining team elections are October 20th and will be held in a virtual meeting to be announced.

Nominate yourself to be on the bargaining team.

Our bargaining team needs your help — join the contract action team to help keep co-workers together to amplify our voices.

How do you think your job could be improved? Are you satisfied with how residents receive care? Your voice matters in our effort. We are more successful with you. You should complete this survey about your job, how you are paid and what could be improved.

Oakwood employees have already started talking about changes and improvements they’d like to make to their jobs. Share your ideas too!

If you have not received e-mail or gotten text messages, Stay connected to SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin HERE. Share this message with your co-workers!

Become an SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin Member or help a coworker become a member HERE.

Oakwood employees have worked hard to raise the standard for good jobs as long term care workers and have the power together to make jobs safer and even better with you part of the effort.

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WI Primary Election is Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Please remind those you love that when they go to vote, to be sure to wear a mask!

Are you voting on your way to work (polls open at 7am)? Are you voting after work (polls close at 8pm)?

Voting is important and these candidates have pledged their support for healthcare workers, including for the Healthcare Heroes Act — The SEIU Wisconsin State Council endorsed the following candidates running in the August 11th Democratic primaries for state legislature:

If you have questions about how to vote, where to vote, your voter registration or about who is on the ballot, please visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/.

These candidates above have pledged their support for policies to address the deep inequalities and injustices that have long existed in our economy and our society. Living wages and a seat at the table for workers through our unions. Healthcare for all. Dignity, rights, and respect on the job.

Beyond their support for our governing agenda, these candidates have committed to working with us to draft legislation, build campaigns inside the Capitol and in our communities, lobby their colleagues in government, and help advance the cause beyond saying they will vote with us.

That kind of leadership is how we win policies to transform our jobs, our neighborhoods, our economy, and our society — leaders who stick up for the working class, no matter our race, immigration status, or what kind of job we do.

Beyond candidates in these districts above, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin stands with our Wisconsin AFL-CIO endorsements available here: https://www.wisaflcio.org/news/2020-candidate-endorsements-wisconsin-legislature.

These political leaders have our backs — so now we need to have theirs.

In solidarity,
Brenda Frary
SEIU Wisconsin State Council President

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Statement from SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin in Support of Governor Evers’ Mask Mandate

2020 Letterhead logo

For Immediate Release:
July 30, 2020
Contact: Amy Lebowitz, amy.lebowitz@berlinrosen.com
Rachel Hogan, rachel.hogan@seiu.org

Statement from SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin in Support of Governor Evers’ Mask Mandate

WISCONSIN– Today, following Governor Tony Evers’ announcement that he would pass a statewide ordinance to require masks in public, healthcare workers applauded the move as a critical step to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives.

Healthcare workers and members of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, issued the following statements: 

“Since this pandemic began, healthcare workers have been organizing and pushing for elected leaders to do their part to stand with us on the front lines. We thank Governor Evers for hearing the call of healthcare workers and joining with us to pass common sense solutions.  This mask ordinance shows that the Governor honors the sacrifices that nurses, hospital workers, nursing home workers, and first responders have made, risking our own health and that of our families. We will continue to do all we can to protect our patients and the public during this pandemic. It helps knowing that Governor Evers is on our side to do whatever it takes.”

-Ramon Argandona, Madison hospital worker and President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin

“As a nurse who cares deeply about the safety of my patients and community, I feel so relieved to hear about Gov. Evers’ order. I feel safer going into my job knowing that we have a consistent statewide approach. Without a doubt, this will help protect our patients and keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed. We know that wearing masks in public will reduce the spread of the virus. With cases and hospitalizations increasing, this is a big step forward to protect public safety and combat COVID-19.” –Allison Sorg, registered nurse at a Madison hospital and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin member

“This is absolutely necessary. We’ve seen how COVID-19 has devastated the Black community in Milwaukee and across the country. By requiring that everyone in our state wears a mask in public, Gov. Evers lets us know he is committed to curbing inequities laid bare by the virus and protecting public health for all Wisconsinites.” – Gertrude Murray, CNA in Milwaukee and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin member

#SEIUHCWI #ProtectAllWorkers #StrongerTogether
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Gundersen sues its own workers when they can’t pay medical bills

In 2018, Gundersen Health System had more than $1.1 billion in revenue, paid its CEO over $1 million, and spent $231,000 on political lobbying.

At the same time, Gundersen was also suing dozens of its own workers for medical debts, asking the courts for permission to garnish $75,000 in wages from 31 of its employees, many of whom were among the health system’s lowest paid workers.

The union, along with Citizen Action Wisconsin, has organized a rally at Poage Park, La Crosse, on Sunday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m., to highlight the issue of medical debt and its impact on the community.

The cases were among 326 Gundersen took to court in La Crosse County alone in 2018 to recoup $721,000 in medical debt, in many instances for amounts totaling less than $1,000. In one case, Gundersen sued for a medical debt of just $30. All the numbers come from public court records.

Now, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, the union that represents Certified Nursing Assistants, laundry, cafeteria, janitorial, and other employees at Gundersen facilities, is calling on the hospital system to stop suing its own workers and provide them with decent, affordable health insurance.

“Medical debt affects our whole community but, due to the stigma around it, it is rarely discussed,” said Amy Dummer, of SEIU. “This silence allows hospitals like Gundersen to continue to take community members to collections and garnish their own employees’ wages with no accountability. We are ending the silence now.”

Dummer said SEIU is also calling on Gundersen, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit, to forgive existing debt and to stop suing both its own employees and community members in general for medical debt.

In 2018, which is the most recent year for which Gundersen’s financial records are publicly available, the nonprofit reported a surplus of $117 million for Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, the organization’s hospital in La Crosse. The $75,000 Gundersen garnished from its employees amounts to 0.06% of that surplus.

“The amount of money Gundersen collected in 2018 from medical debt and from garnishing its own employees’ wages is a miniscule percentage of its budget surplus that year,” Dummer said.

Of the 326 cases Gundersen took to court for medical debt in 2018 in La Crosse County, 177 had wages garnished, totaling just under $550,000, according to court records.

Gundersen is far from alone among health care providers, which are often tax-exempt nonprofits, in regularly sending medical debt to collections and garnishing wages. The practice is common across the U.S. and medical debt bankrupts hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

No one should be sued over medical debt”

Ben Wilson, an organizer with Citizen Action Wisconsin, said that Citizen Action supported the introduction of Medicare for All as the best way to fix the nation’s health care system in the long term. In the meantime, he said it was time for providers like Gundersen to stop suing people for medical debt. Citizen Action of Wisconsin is helping to organize Sunday’s Stand Against Medical Debt rally with SEIU.

“We believe that no one should be sued over medical debt. Medical bankruptcy is a uniquely American problem and it is a stain on our country,” Wilson said. “On a personal level, as someone who has filed bankruptcy in part due to medical debt, I understand that we need to fight against health care providers who ruin people’s financial futures by suing over small dollar medical debt.”

Gundersen continued to sue La Crosse residents, including its own workers, throughout 2019 and well into 2020, often for debt amounts of below $10,000. While these may be relatively small sums for a billion dollar organization, they could be catastrophic for many of those being sued.

“Medical debt is not something people chose but more often the result of a catastrophic event or long-term illness,” Dummer said. “Fear of debt and potential negative effects on credit ratings can lead people to avoid medical treatment, putting them at higher risk for serious illness.”

The $75,000 garnished from the wages of Gundersen’s own employees in 2018 amounts to 7.1% of CEO Scott Rathgaber’s pay packet for that year. Rathgaber’s total compensation increased by 62.5% between 2015 and 2018, from $655,000 to $1.064 million, according to public records.

Dummer noted that those most at risk from being sued for medical debt are often the most marginalized members of society.

“Medical debt affects low-income workers and because of our country’s structural oppression, it disproportionately affects Black, Hmong, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Ho-Chunk and other Indigenous people in our community,” she said.

Gundersen officials did not respond to a request for comment on this story. We will update the story if they do provide a statement.

Nonprofit hospitals are required to report the amount of charitable care they provide, which in 2018 was about $2.9 million for Gundersen, or 0.3% of the hospital’s revenue for that year.

Gundersen sues its own workers when they can’t pay medical bills

By Eric Timmons. Email questions to lacrosseindependent@gmail.com.

 

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Insurance Info if Furloughed or Laid-Off

Did you lose your health insurance because of a job layoff/furlough or other life change? If you had qualifying health coverage, according to healthcare.gov, you only have SIXTY days to secure marketplace coverage!

It is called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) but the “window” is only open for SIXTY days. If you need assistance or have more questions, please dial 211! Click here for Covering Wisconsin, a nonprofit agency that helps people figure out health insurance coverage for free! Help is available across the state!

And, remember, in Dane County*, if your new income falls between 100 and 150% of the Federal Poverty Level, you may be able to get your health insurance premiums paid thru the HealthConnect program, administered by United Way of Dane County.

 Insurance Lost

 

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Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) – Covid Related

Below are Covid Related MOUs and policies between SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and Wisconsin Healthcare Employers.

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SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin in the Media

The public and the media want to hear about the experiences of health care workers at this time. Recent Media with SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin & supporters.

6/29/2020

6/22/2020

  • CNA Roundtable – Facebook Live
  • “Our jobs have always required a lot of hard work, emotional and physical, but now we are forced to bring work home with us. We are giving up a lot in these times. It is not asking too much to have hazard pay and paid sick leave — which we know $100 million could enable.”

Barbara Baker: Nursing home money should go to the workers risking it all

6/2/2020

Amid ongoing demonstrations in defense of Black lives across the country, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin releases the following statement:

“We are a union made up of healthcare workers -Black, white, and brown- who are committed to providing care and working toward a healthier society for all. We join in solidarity with those expressing pain, anger, and outrage at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, David McAtee and countless other Black Lives.

The full statement can be read HERE.

5/15/2020

“This Nurses Week, instead of a supportive tweet or an empty proclamation honoring the work and sacrifices of nurses, we call on lawmakers to do something that nurses actually need. Pass legislation that prioritizes the health, safety and economic well-being of all working people.”

4/23/2020

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV-NBC)– Channel 15

 MADISON, Wis. (WISC-CBS)–Channel 3000

Take Action!

Healthcare workers need more than a “thank you”. To advocate too for covid Paid Sick Time, Hazard Pay, More PPE and health insurance! Support a Healthcare Heroes Act

  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    Ricardo Torres
    April 22, 2020
    “The way to help is not to put us all in danger with ill-considered protests, but for all of us to urge the Republican leadership to drop their request to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to block the governor’s order,” Margulis said. “But rather to bring the Legislature back to work to pass a relief bill that will help those that need it the most.”
    “Mariah Clark, a nurse at University Hospital in Madison, said the recent protests “show no respect to those of us trying to keep Americans safe.”
    “I’m not just talking about health care workers, I’m talking about all the essential workers that cannot stay home,”
    Clark added she and other nurses have discussed with her family and colleagues about her last wishes if she was infected and became seriously ill. “These are the stakes for health care workers in this pandemic, it’s life and death,” Clark said.”
Wisconsin Examiner
Erik Gunn
April 23, 2020
Bonnie Margulis: “We are all deeply concerned about the economic impact this pandemic has wrought, particularly on those least able to withstand an economic shock,”
“Speakers called on the Legislature to abandon the GOP-led lawsuit and instead work to pass legislation guaranteeing hazard pay, personal protective equipment (PPE), paid sick leave and free medical coverage for treatment and prevention of COVID-19 for healthcare workers and other critical employees during the pandemic.”
WKOW
Caroline Bach
April 22, 2020
Up North News
Julian Emerson
April 22, 2020
“Mariah Clark, an emergency department nurse at UW Health System in Madison, is among medical personnel and others putting their lives on the line as they have contact with people infected with COVID-19. She criticized President Donald Trump for his support of the protesters seeking to lift stay-at-home orders across the country.
“It is appalling to see President Trump supporting these dangerous actions,” Clark said, likening his rhetoric to “reckless political stunts.” Clark also was critical of Trump’s failure to provide adequate funding for personal protective equipment necessary to protect nurses and other front line workers from infection. She said she and her coworkers lack protective equipment, often reusing masks for several days at a time…
At the state level, Clark called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to approve the Health Care Heroes Act that would provide funding for more PPE, fully paid sick leave and hazard pay, and health insurance for front line employees.”

CBS 58
Andy Devine
Apr 22, 2020

WPR
Laurel White
April 21, 2020

“Shari Signer, an inpatient nurse in Madison, spoke with reporters on the Tuesday call organized by Pocan’s office. She and her husband are both nurses….”I’m expected to wear the same mask from patient room to patient room, despite their isolation, despite their health care conditions,” she said. At the end of the day, she puts the mask in a brown paper bag to be re-worn the next day. “It is outrageous that health care workers continue to show up for a battle against a deadly virus without the protection, resources and support that we need to safely do our jobs,” she said.

Channel 3000
Staff
April 20, 2020
Ani Weaver, RN: “President Trump and Vice President Pence and all those that have treated this situation like a  political battleground, please put your differences aside and do what is truly right for both the economy AND the health of our community.”
WORT
Staff and Martin Rakacolli
April 21, 2020
Ani Weaver, RN: “I support the approach Governor Evers outlined Monday: A coordinated and science-based reopening of the economy as soon as we have sufficient testing infrastructure in place to ensure we can keep our communities healthy and safe. We need more testing supplies now. I think everyone can agree that we want to be able to reopen our economy. This just needs to be done safely and in a way that protects those of us on the front line who are already at risk. People are suffering, the pain is real, and that’s why we need our leaders to act.”
WPR
Shamane Mills
April 15, 2020
Quotes: Justin Byers, Kathy Hintz

“Kathy Hintz cleans rooms at an Appleton hospital. Not long ago, she said she cleaned her first room where a patient infected with the disease died. She said she lacked adequate protective gear and is monitoring herself for symptoms of COVID-19.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic started I live on pins and needles,” said Hintz, who can’t babysit her grandchildren for fear of infecting them. “When I accepted this job as a housekeeper I didn’t ever think that it might mean I’d be signing my death certificate,” she said, bursting into tears during the teleconference.

Wisconsin Examiner
Erik Gunn
April 15, 2020
Quotes: Demetrica Shipp, Chip Stankovsky, Justin Byers, Randi Payne
“Joseph “Chip” Stankovsky, works in the food and nutrition department of a Milwaukee hospital and replenishes food stocks throughout the facility. One protective mask has to last him for the whole day or longer. Stankovsky recalled seeing his father’s pay stub in 1976 when he was 12 years old. His father made $12 an hour.
“I said ‘we’re rich!’ Now, 44 years later, I make the same amount,” he said. “Twelve dollars an hour was a living wage back in 1976,” Stankovsky continued. But in 2020, “$12 wasn’t enough before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s definitely not enough now.”
WKOW Channel 27
AJ Bayatpour
April 15, 2020
Quotes: Ryann Streicher, Justin Byers
 
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SEIUhcWI Retirees call for Mass testing and NOT mass protesting against public health

SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin Retirees have contacted all members of the Wisconsin Legislature calling for more testing, funding a public health strategy and better support for Wisconsin’s healthcare workforce.

2020 4 25 Safer At Home - Retirees

Retired Nurses and other healthcare professionals are outraged that misguided individuals would congregate to disagree with the sound science of “safer at home”.

In order to get people safely back to work we urge the adoption of a proven public health strategy, one that relies on testing and contact tracing to determine who has been exposed to the virus. When you know who has the virus you can then take appropriate intervention, i.e. isolation and treatment.  

Imagine a system where if you are diagnosed with exposure or have the virus that you are supported by health care professionals who find you, talk to you, educate you and your family on doing what is effective.  

Wisconsin hospitals are furloughing RNs and Wisconsin had a $800+ million surplus plus Billions more coming from the Federal Government. Let’s put them to work testing and educating.

A public health strategy puts people back to work helping others and makes our communities safer. It will also provide the structure needed for future outbreaks so there is confidence and trust in our government, leaders, and health care systems.

We need more testing and don’t need protesting against public health. Fund a public health strategy and better support Wisconsin’s healthcare workforce.

Until Covid-19 infection rates come down, we are all safer at home.

#SEIUhcWI, #SaferAtHome, #MoreMaskNow, #HealthcareHeroesAct

 

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First Responders, Healthcare Workers say relief bill doesn’t do enough

Justin Byers, a paramedic in La Crosse, said his biggest concern is what would happen if he or any of his colleagues contracted the novel coronavirus. Tell Your Wisconsin Assembly Person and State Senator to Support a Healthcare Heroes Act!

“If I get sick with COVID-19, I want to make sure I can financially support my family,” Byers said. “Right now, if we get sick, we have to take time out of our PTO but when we take PTO, we don’t get full pay.”

State Rep. Robyn Vining (D – Wauwatosa) was on the healthcare workers’ call. Vining’s office shared a letter signed by 37 state lawmakers calling on legislative leaders to ensure the next relief legislation package supplies PPE, guarantees fully-paid sick leave, provides hazard pay, and provides full healthcare coverage for frontline workers.

This story was written by A. J. Bayatpour, WKOW TV, Channel 27

WATCH AND READ THE ENTIRE STORY HERE

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Calling All Healthcare Workers!

On April 1st, at 5pm, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin is hosting a live conference call to address issues regarding COVID-19 and answer questions from healthcare workers from Wisconsin. A representative of the Department of Health Services will be present to provide some updates. In order to best represent the state’s healthcare workers, SEIU needs to hear from you.

Please submit your top workplace concerns in regards to COVID-19 on the link below:

COVID-19 Top Concerns

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