Are you listening to the voice of workers?

Amid the noise and headlines, the struggle for dignity in work continues.

Minnesota’s Frontline Worker Pay Working Group missed their September 6 deadline to give recommendations to the legislature on how to disburse $250 million to frontline workers. ❌

A coalition of workers have been calling on the group to move forward, saying the Republican members are holding out and excluding certain workers from eligibility.

From the coalition’s statement:

“Whether in healthcare settings, making food, helping young people and students, cleaning buildings, preparing food, driving busses, or other crucial work, essential workers stepped up during COVID to keep Minnesota safe and healthy. Minnesota’s frontline workers sacrificed so much, from our health and safety to time with family, to make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. 

We worked to not leave anyone behind during COVID, and now some legislators are holding up Essential Worker pay in order to exclude us?

Many of us lost pay when we had to quarantine or be vaccinated. Yet when our bills come due, we have to pay them. The bill for this working group is overdue, and it’s time they deliver.”

“The biggest challenge really now is data. We don’t know exactly how many workers will apply for a check from the state out of this $250 million fund,” House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler told MPR. “And without a good understanding of how many workers would fit what categories, we have a hard time to deciding how much each worker should get.”

Workday Minnesota has reached out to the members of the group to try to get a response for the workers. So far, only Senator Erin Murphy has expressed interest in responding.

The knowledge of caregivers 👐

Home care workers and constituents of Minnesota’s Second Congressional District held a presentation with Representative Angie Craig. They talked about the national crisis in home care work and their personal journeys in the field while advocating for the Better Jobs Better Care Act. Kerry Adelmann, a personal care aid and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, demonstrated how her son Keegan receives care in their home.

​​🎧  Listen: In this episode of Reformer Radio, Adelmann is interviewed about quitting her job as a business analyst to become a caregiver for Keegan when she couldn’t find someone to take care of him. 

zoom screenshot, one image of a woman standing in her kitchen demonstrating a high end wheelchair and lift equipment, one image of a brunette woman with glasses in her office in front of a rainbow-colored poster of Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the word "vote"
Adelmann explaining a few pieces of equipment that assist with daily activities, while Rep. Craig observes. She said the wheelchair cost more than a Harley motorcycle.

Adelmann lives in a big household with her family in Lakeville, where they also take care of her elderly mother. She had to travel under emergency circumstances to care for her blind stepmother during the pandemic. “I didn’t know how long I would be gone from Keegan and my family because I didn’t know how long it would take to find the help that she would need,” said Adelmann. After a fall, her stepmother moved into assisted living. “I talk to her every night and every night it breaks my heart because she tells me the same thing: she wants to go home.”

Check out Workday’s reporting on home care workers and their fight for a $15 minimum wage.

Back to school 🚌

School is back in session, and that has meant vaccine mandates for employees of St. Paul and Minneapolis public schools. Not everyone wants to come back, though.

Members of SEIU Local 284 and Teamsters Local 320 held a press conference informing the public about the bus driver shortage, a crisis that existed before the pandemic due to a lack of financial stability. “We were always short bus drivers,” said Kelly Gibbons. “It was always a problem. This is not something new.”

Gibbons drove for District 197 for around 20 years, and is the executive director of Local 284. “We were fighting for unemployment because bus drivers...they don’t get paid in the summer, they don’t get paid over Christmas, holiday breaks, they don’t get paid over spring breaks,” said Gibbons. “I have been fighting forever to see why we don’t get the same kind of safety net.” Gibbons described how she was able to appeal under emergency pandemic rulings to get unemployment for some folks, but not all.

Hourly school employees are not eligible for unemployment, but are seeking to change that with a bill. Teresa Jakubowski, a bus driver for District 196 in Rosemount, is a member and steward of Local 284 who has spoken about access to unemployment insurance. “A typical workday begins at 5:45 am and ends at 4:45 pm,” said Jakubowski. “Too many drivers end up spending all 11 hours at the worksite yet are only paid 6-8 hours of that time...drivers who are not unionized do not choose their routes or even have any control over the number of hours worked a day.”

📰 Read: Giulia Heyward (@giuliaheyward) with The New York Times reports on this national issue.

More from Workday:

What we’re excited about:

  • From Michael Sainato’s (@msainat1) Labor Report: CVS employees are demanding better pay and staffing. 💢

  • Jay Boller (@jaymboller) from Racket reports on the unionization of Brother Justus Whiskey Co. 🥃

  • The striking Nabisco workers (who make Oreos and Ritz and other sweet treats and snacks) reached a tentative agreement. 🍪

  • From ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle): news on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s contract with the women’s and men’s national soccer teams. Highly recommend the documentary on the women’s team’s gender discrimination and equal pay lawsuit, LFG. Jessica McDonald, a Black athlete and single mother, worked at Amazon while also being a professional soccer player. ⚽

  • Cringing my way through this Mother Jones series on horrible bosses, compiled by Noah Lanard (@nlanard) and Jacob Rosenberg (@jrrosenb). 😬

Forever fighting back. We are each other’s harvest.