Best of the CRANDIC spotlight: SEIU Local 199 fights to ensure ‘caregiver care’


Representatives of SEIU 199 gather outside UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, March 2021. – via SEIU 199 on Facebook
Winner Best of the CRANDIC: Hardest Fightin ‘Union – Union of Iowa’s Caregivers (SEIU Local 199)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 199 is a union that fights for healthcare workers and other caregivers in Iowa. They bargain collectively over wages and salaries, deal with labor management issues, and provide member benefits, such as insurance and student loan debt management.

Currently, the union has 4,500 members in six branches: Aase Haugen Senior Services, Bettendorf Health Care Center, Finley Hospital, Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, Strawberry Point Lutheran Home, and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics ( UIHC).

Local 199 was founded in 1999, following the unionization of around 3,000 UIHC healthcare workers. Since then, it has grown to encompass nursing homes and educational organizations. At UI, they represent around 4,000 workers, mostly nurses and other specialist fields like physiotherapists.

“SEIU has always been an advocate for creating change in our communities,” said Cathy Glasson, former president of Local 199. “… this country cannot function without workers being treated with it. dignity and respect at work. “

In 2017, the Republican-led state legislature of Iowa and Gov. Terry Branstad passed anti-union legislation that placed restrictions on collective bargaining, strikes, and union dues collection, which threatened to dissolve the UIHC union.

“We have shrunk a lot as a union since 2017. Legal constraints have made it very difficult for us to keep up financially,” said Hannah Bott, organizer and union representative. “We will continue to do whatever it takes to build that power.”

The 2017 law wiped out much of their progress on unemployment insurance. Their current contract with the Board of Regents contains sections only for base salary and a 1.3 percent annual salary increase. There are no provisions for paid leave, vacation, overtime or retirement.

“One of the main things we’ve been working on is staffing issues, which is a major issue facing hospitals across the country right now,” Bott said. “We kind of hit a breaking point where they started to agree with us that this is a really serious problem. And so we are really working to do what we can to build the power within the university.

Staff at the University of Iowa hospitals and clinics met outdoors on June 5, 2020 in solidarity with racial justice advocates. – UIHC on Facebook

At UI, Local 199 is fighting to ensure that all of its members receive raises and bonuses. A few weeks ago, much of their bargaining unit, including inpatient units, received raises, but many more workers were left behind.

Recently, Local 199 entered into a service agreement with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota (HCMN) to help them do their job. The HCNM will help administer collective bargaining, provide union representation and strengthen the strength of its members. Local 199 is currently working to overturn the 2017 law.

Local 199 has also partnered with other organizations in Iowa to fight for workers. They joined the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, and for months they’ve called on city and county municipalities to provide COVID assistance to excluded and essential workers, including immigrants and those formerly incarcerated.

“We are really proud of this hard work and proud to be part of this coalition,” said Katie Biechler, Policy Coordinator and Executive Assistant. “We won $ 2 million at the county level. This will go to excluded workers who did not receive stimulus checks, so we are excited about this victory. “

For now, SEIU Local 199 will continue to fight for workers in Iowa.

“I hope to see more respect for workers, worker power and the building of a stronger labor movement,” Glasson said. “SEIU is truly at the forefront of leading this work, and our Local is all about it. And I am proud to be a retired member of this organization. It is the best union, and I like it very much.

The Fund Excluded Workers Coalition is meeting outside the Senior Center to participate in the Iowa City Council meeting and demand action on ARPA on Tuesday, September 8, 2021 in Iowa City, Iowa. SEIU 199 has shown its support for the excluded workers movement. – Adria Carpenter / Petit Village

Little Village Best of the CRANDIC is brought to you by the City of Iowa City.

Thoughts? Tips? A nice photo of a dog? Share them with LV »


Comments are closed.