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Commonwealth Nurses Won’t Take Closures Sitting Down

PA state nurses committee

As longtime commonwealth employees, the complicated budget process is nothing new to us, but this year, we’re facing an impossible situation.

But first, let’s be clear. We strongly oppose the closure of any state institutions, but thanks to years of Republican obstructionism and refusal to look at increasing revenue, these decisions have been nearly unavoidable.

How did we get here? For two years, Governor Wolf has tried to create a responsible budget that deals with the serious budget deficits and funds the services everyone in Pennsylvania needs.

But rather than do the real work governing requires, over and over again, Republicans in the General Assembly have obstinately refused to even consider raising the revenue we need. Instead, they seem far more interested in protecting tax loopholes for big business and the fracking industry than what happens to the rest of us.

Now it’s up to Governor Wolf – and the people of Pennsylvania – to figure out how to deal with a massive budget shortfall without adding to the suffering of our most vulnerable citizens and communities. This means some state prisons and hospitals are facing closure to fix the budget holes.

To make sure we make the best of a bad situation, SEIU HCPA is actively engaged in the restructuring process to make sure your voice is heard and our patients and affected colleagues will be protected.

What We’re Doing:

Last week, member meetings were held at Hamburg Center and Norristown State Hospital to discuss the news of closures.  We also convened a conference call for nurses at the five prisons under consideration for closure.  Among the topics discussed were the impact that closures will have on patients and inmates, future job opportunities for affected nurses, and our plan as a Union for responding to this news.

Yesterday, SEIU HCPA VP, Kevin Hefty testified in Harrisburg about the prison closures and next week union leaders and members will testify at  hospital closure hearings to urge policymakers to reconsider these decisions.

We’ll say it again. We strongly oppose the closure of any state institutions, but thanks to years of Republican obstructionism and refusal to look at increasing revenue, these decisions have been nearly impossible to avoid.

If these closures are inevitable, it is vital we are there every step of the way to make sure we are standing up for good union jobs and our most vulnerable patients and communities.

What You Can Do:

While the financial difficulties facing the state are immense, the Republican-led legislature should be leading us by working with the Governor’s Office to explore new revenue sources such as a responsible tax on Marcellus Shale production and reforming the tax code to ensure that corporations pay their fair share.

Contact your representatives to tell them the impact their decisions will have on your patients, you and your colleagues and your communities. Your expertise and personal stories are powerful – make sure your voices are heard.

Attend closure hearings in Hamburg Center and Norristown. There will be two hearings next week to hear from the community about the closings. We need to show up and make a stand. Plan to attend, bring your colleagues, friends, families and neighbors, sign up to speak, call your representatives. This is the time to act.

Hamburg Center Closure Hearing

Monday, January 30, 1pm-4pm

Hamburg Borough Building

Norristown Hospital Closure Hearing

Tuesday, January 31 2pm-5pm

Norristown State Hospital, Building 33

If you have any questions about how to get involved, please contact Neal Manning at

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Forward Together – Our Statement of Purpose

We are nurses and healthcare workers in hospitals, nursing homes, home and community based services and state facilities all across Pennsylvania. We are caregivers who care about the future of our country and want to make it better for our patients, residents, consumers, and future generations. Together, we are SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

We are tired of a political system that is failing us. We are fed up with an economy that is rigged in favor the wealthy and corporations. We won’t stand for employers that pay low wages and impose health costs our families can’t afford. We’re outraged that companies deny workers their right to organize a union for a voice on the job.

Nurses and healthcare workers are diverse, but we all we want:

  • Wages that attract and retain professionals to do caregiving work, with no employer paying less than$15 an hour for any healthcare job;
  • Union rights for all workers to organize and raise their voices to change the healthcare industry for the better; and
  • Access to quality, affordable healthcare for everyone in our communities.

Together in SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, we’ve learned that we can accomplish more for our professions, our patients, our families, and our communities when we unite. We’re stronger together. That’s why we’re deeply troubled by the rise of dangerous, divisive, and sometimes violent politics in our country. We believe in equal rights and fairness for everyone. We demand that our elected leaders bring people together to invest and get our economy moving, so that all of us have good jobs and a say in what happens to our communities.

We want a more just and humane society.

We won’t stop fighting until we get it.


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AGH Workers Chart the Future of the Union

On July 30, leaders of the service, clerical, and technical workers union at Allegheny General Hospital held a leadership retreat to chart the future of the union.

Nowhere in Pittsburgh could you find a more diverse group of people working together to build a better city and create better jobs for healthcare workers across Pennsylvania.

AGH Service and Tech Workers Summit 2 WebAGH workers discussed how proud they are of their accomplishments and what their organizing victory means to their families, patients and community. They talked about what they as a union can do to improve patient care, make AGH a good place to work, and ensure the success of the Allegheny Health Network.

These workers have a deep commitment to collaborating with hospital leadership to achieve success for the health system in a way that benefits patients, workers and the bottom line. Newly created labor-management committees will work with the hospital administration to resolve problems around staffing, scheduling, improving patient satisfaction scores, and other work-related issues.

But they didn’t confine themselves to addressing solely AGH issues. AGH workers discussed how they can address racism in our communities and their role in rebuilding the middle class. They talked about making politics work for working people and despite political differences, they agreed that we need to raise the minimum wage, to force all hospitals to be transparent about staffing, and protect the right to a closed union shop in Pennsylvania.

AGH workers were joined at their retreat by Jared McCray, a UPMC Mercy worker and union leader, who came to congratulate them on their work and accomplishments. McCray delivered an incredibly inspirational message of shared struggle and unity.

AGH workers were so moved by McCray’s passion for their mission that they decided to create an honorary officer position for him when setting up the officer structure. The suggestion was raised by Burton Brown, a Central Sterile Processing Tech, and immediately approved by everyone in the room. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, a UPMC worker will now be a permanent part of the AGH union leadership team.

For decades, many Pittsburgh hospital workers have felt isolated by their struggles, but now are finding hope in their unity.

Congratulations to all who are helping to build something so very special in Pennsylvania.

And now the real work begins!

AGH Service and Tech Workers Summit Web

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Nursing Home Workers Rally Over the Crisis of Poverty Wages

Harrisburg – On February 9, 2016, over a hundred nursing home workers from across the Commonwealth held a march and a rally in the capitol rotunda today to shine a light on the crisis of poverty wages and call on lawmakers to support The Nursing Facility Accountability Act which would spur nursing home employers to provide a living wage, reduce the burden on taxpayers and improve resident care.

The Nursing Facility Accountability Act[i] (HB 1449 (Gainey) /SB 1057 (Leach) would incentivize nursing home employers to pay workers $15 an hour through the creation of a statewide Living Wage Certification Program that would make minimum wage rates paid to employees publicly available. Additionally, nursing home employers would be required to reimburse the state for the costs incurred by providing public assistance benefits to workers.

“I like what I do and want this to be my career,” said Phyliss Williams, a Harrisburg nursing home attendant, “But the sad fact is I can’t afford to make it a career. With the wages I make, I am struggling to support my family and must rely on Medicaid and food stamps. If we can raise nursing home wages to at least $15 an hour, this will go from being a job to a career for me and for so many others.”

A report released earlier this year by the Keystone Research Center[ii] confirmed that 52 percent of PA nursing home workers cannot support their families on the wages they earn, and, in 2015, the PA Department of Human Services found that over 14,000 nursing home workers received taxpayer-funded public assistance at an annual taxpayer cost of $118 million.

“I love helping people who have had a difficult medical condition recover. It’s a challenging job but a privilege to help people in need,” said Venaye Sanders, a Philadelphia restorative aide. “All my co-workers and I are asking for is to be fairly compensated to provide care to those who need it most.”

According to the report, the nursing home industry – which derives 70 percent of their revenue from Medicaid and Medicare – can afford to provide its workers a living wage. In 2014, it generated more than $400 million in profits.

A wage increase also would benefit nursing home residents by reducing turnover, improving continuity of care and lowering recruitment and training costs. Based on industry estimates, halving turnover from the industry standard of 66 percent for nursing assistants could, by itself, pay for a 60-cent per hour increase in caregiver wages.


For more information contact: Amelia Abromaitis – / 215.219.4248

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Nursing Home Workers Take Fight for $15 to Halls of Harrisburg

PA nursing home workers testified this week at a public hearing in support of a new bill that would incentivize nursing homes to start caregivers at a minimum of $15 an hour.

PA nursing home workers testify at a public hearing in support of a new bill that would incentivize nursing homes to start caregivers at a minimum of $15 an hour.

PA nursing home workers testify at a public hearing in support of a new bill that would incentivize nursing homes to start caregivers at a minimum of $15 an hour.

On Monday, nursing home workers from Philadelphia, Easton, and Plymouth took the Fight for $15 from the streets to the halls of power in Harrisburg, testifying at a packed public hearing in support of House Bill 1449. The bill, introduced by Representative Ed Gainey, would incentivize nursing home employers to pay a minimum of $15 an hour to workers through creation of a statewide Living Wage Certification Program.

IMG_2643“After 10 years I only make $11.45 and I depend on public assistance to get by,” said Tisheia Frazier, a certified nurse aide from Philadelphia. “I get $200 per month in food stamps. I have heating assistance in the winter and our apartment is part of a low-income housing program. It’s heartbreaking to work full time and barely be above the poverty line.”

The low wages being paid at nursing homes across the country make it difficult for many who’ve dedicated their lives to caring for others to get by. Many are struggling to merely survive in today’s economy.

Not paying workers an adequate wage also leads to high turnover, resulting in staffing shortages which only serve to lower the quality of care for vulnerable nursing home residents.

Under Rep. Gainey’s bill’s Living Wage Certification Program, facilities would share their salary information with the public.

IMG_2905“Publicizing wage rates allows the public access to this critical information and, hopefully, encourages providers to increase wages,” said Matt Yarnell, Vice President of Long Term Care for SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “At a minimum, the public can make a more informed choice about where to send their family members. And, quite frankly, employees can make choices about where to work.”

Monday’s testimony also focused on the massive profits these nursing home facilities rake in. Despite repeated claims that they cannot afford to raise wages, a recent study found the nursing home industry made over $400 million in profits last year in Pennsylvania, up from the year before. What’s more, the majority of their funding comes from tax dollars in the form of Medicaid and Medicare. So our tax dollars go to fund their profits.

“Ultimately, it comes down to priorities,” continued Yarnell. “Do we want our taxpayer dollars to go to good jobs and care, or to profits for institutional investors, stockholders, and CEOs?”

According to a recent study by the Keystone Research Center, currently 1 in 6 nursing home workers rely on public assistance.

“If we raised the start rate to $15 an hour, it would mean an extra $3,500 in my paycheck,” said Dharnell Bridges, who works in laundry and housekeeping in the Lehigh Valley area. “I want to stay working at the nursing home – it’s important work.  I want this to be the job that I can be proud of and tell my kids that if you do work hard you can raise a family too.”

You can read the full testimony from healthcare experts and economists who provided information on the impact of HB1449 here.

If you’d like to learn more or find out how you can get involved in the Fight for $15 in your community, write to


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Nursing Home Workers Join Fight for $15

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have become an increasingly more important part of our lives. Many of us rely on these facilities to help care for our parents, grandparents and other aging relatives.

16974687518_efb23cc4bf_zAnd while we entrust our most vulnerable loved ones to these facilities and the dedicated health care professionals who staff them, most of us remain largely unaware that another vulnerable population is being taken advantage of in this process — the caregivers themselves.

According to new findings from the Keystone Research Center (KRC), while the nursing home industry thrives, reporting $407 million in profits in Pennsylvania alone in 2014 (up from $370 million in 2013), nursing home staff members struggle to make ends meet.

Many of these caregivers are paid so poorly they rely on public assistance and food banks to survive. According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, close to 15,000 caregivers in nursing homes today receive public assistance through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (or SNAP), Medicaid, or both. That’s nearly one in six! The estimated taxpayer cost of this assistance is $118 million annually.

Erie FFBut the taxpayer assistance doesn’t stop there. The profits the nursing home industry takes in are funded largely through Medicaid and Medicare — two more taxpayer funded systems. That means industry owners are draining the coffers from both ends.

That’s why nursing home workers are joining the national Fight for $15 movement. One in three of these workers makes less than $15 for this incredibly important and difficult work of caring for the elderly and infirm. They deserve better.

Raising wages would not only improve the lives of these dedicated workers, but it would help to rebuild our communities by boosting local economies and getting more people off public assistance. According to the KRC, raising starting wages in nursing homes to $15 an hour would add $300 million back to our local economy and more importantly, to the budgets of struggling families trying to make ends meet.

These low wages have another negative effect on the industry — the quality of care our loved ones receive. When wages are kept low, recruiting and maintaining a top-notch staff of trained professionals becomes almost impossible. Turnover is high and it’s the residents of these facilities that truly suffer the consequences.

The nursing home industry is a profitable one and it can afford to pay a living wage. It’s time we demand they do just that and put an end to corporate welfare. Taxpayer money should be spent on good jobs and high-quality care, not to line the pockets of wealthy industry executives and CEOs.

That’s why, this Nov. 10, nursing home workers across Pennsylvania will be rising up in historic numbers to join other low-wage workers across the country to join the Fight for $15 and demand better jobs and a path to stronger communities for all of us.

Click here to find out how you can join them in calling for an end to poverty wages.

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Gov. Wolf’s Pension Proposal: Security for Working Families, Stability for Our Economy

For years, legislators short-changed state employees

Secure retirement is imperative for a healthy economy. That’s why a key component of Gov. Wolf’s budget proposal is pension reform. State employees have contributed 6.5% to 7.5% of their paychecks toward retirement every payday. But bad policy from over a decade ago allowed the state to skimp on its share of pension contributions. That’s like not making the minimum payment on a credit card for over ten years. That, combined with the stock market downturns, created a pension funding problem that has reached $52 billion.

Residents of Altoona, Pa. joined folks all over Pennsylvania earlier this year to call for a fair state budget that bring good jobs and build healthy communities.

Residents of Altoona, Pa. joined folks all over Pennsylvania earlier this year to call for a fair state budget that bring good jobs and build healthy communities.

What’s more, because of the corporate tax shelters like the Delaware Tax Loophole and the Corbett Administration’s refusal to consider a tax on shale drillers, we’ve let huge corporations get away with not paying their fair share.

State employees have already made sacrifices. Five years ago, Act 20 was passed, which cut benefits for new employees, And now some legislators would have them sacrifice even more or even give up their retirement security altogether. It’s time for a solution that makes sense and does not burden the middle class.

So how do we fix it?

As part of his state budget proposal, Gov. Wolf has a commonsense approach to pension reform that saves retirement and does not ask anyone to make more sacrifices. His plan works by putting an end to huge payments to Wall Street, paying our bills on time, making sure politicians can’t spend workers’ retirement on other projects, and creating new sources of funding:

  • Every year Pennsylvania gives nearly $700 million to Wall Street firms and hedge fund investors (much more than most other states), rather than making sure those funds to workers’ retirement. Gov. Wolf will change that system, making sure money goes to our middle class, not Wall Street millionaires.
  • Governor Wolf’s budget will create a dedicated revenue stream for pensions and put the funds into a restricted account so politicians can no longer spend workers’ pension savings at their whim.
  • The governor’s plan also modernizes the liquor store system to generate more money for pensions.
  • This budget plan will reduce Pa.’s long term liability by more than $10 billion.
What about Big Business?

To make things even more fair for Pa. residents, Gov. Wolf is asking big business to stop shirking their responsibilities and be part of the solution.

His budget would institute a modest 5% extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling companies. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state that does not have a severance tax and it’s estimated to generate $1 billion for Pennsylvania in this fiscal year alone. His budget also aims to close corporate loopholes (like the Delaware Tax Loophole) which huge corporations have used to avoid paying taxes by hiding their taxes out of state. That move would generate an additional $500 million per year.

As a businessman, Gov. Tom Wolf plans to make our state more attractive to business investment by significantly lowering the corporate net income tax (one of the largest in the country) and phasing out the capital stock and franchise tax. With the Governor’s budget, not only will corporations finally be paying their fair share, they’ll be getting a fair deal to make doing business in Pennsylvania a win-win situation for everyone.

The choice is clear. Supporting Gov. Wolf’s budget is right for Pennsylvania and its workers. Now the rest of the Legislature needs to get on board.

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Let’s Get Medicaid Expansion Done Right

State budgets are all about the choices and values of our elected representatives. Based on a recent Franklin & Marshall poll, it appears that a majority of working Pennsylvanians agree with Governor Wolf’s priorities for moving our state ahead.

One of the promises Gov. Wolf made during his campaign was to bring real Medicaid expansion to Pennsylvania. Now, true to his word, he has begun working to undo Corbett’s disastrous “Healthy PA” plan and transition to real Medicaid Expansion once and for all.

Add your support for this transition here!

Medicaid Expansion Wiz_Capitol_sm

Citizens call for Medicaid expansion at a rally in the Capitol.

This is great news because:

  • The cuts and harmful changes pushed through under “Healthy PA” will be reversed;
  • People will start to get better, more comprehensive benefits; and
  • Thousands of new jobs will be created across the state.

As our legislature continues the budget debate, we need to send a message to decision-makers that we support Medicaid expansion and its goals of providing quality, affordable, equitable healthcare for all Pennsylvanians.

But we need to act now. A special public comment period on the Governor’s Medicaid Expansion transition plan is currently underway.

Click here to add your voice!

Let’s get Medicaid expansion done right! 

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Finally! A State Budget That Works for PA Families

Residents and taxpayers gather in Allentown to call on legislators to pass a fair state budget.

Residents and taxpayers gather in Allentown to call on legislators to pass a fair state budget.

In early March, Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his state budget, drawing strong support from people across Pennsylvania who are ready for a change. After four years of cuts to education and public services, Governor Wolf’s proposal reinvests in working families and holds huge corporations accountable to paying their fair share.

 Click here to urge your legislators to pass the governor’s budget without delay.

Jobs That Pay

The governor’s budget will create jobs to get Pennsylvania back on track. His plan will strengthen our workforce and provide incentives to businesses that create high-paying jobs.

The governor also calls for a hike in the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, which will help millions of families that work full time yet struggle to make ends meet.

Schools That Teach

Governor Wolf’s budget makes historic investments in education by making the Marcellus Shale industry pay its fair share and closing corporate tax loopholes.  This will lessen the burden on the rest of us and middle class families will see a reduction of school district property taxes by more than 50%.

Meanwhile, the budget will restore cuts to basic education that have forced our children into crowded classrooms and promises a restoration to cuts made to higher education in two years.

Government That Works

Governor Wolf’s plan will finally provide real Medicaid expansion to thousands of hardworking people in our state, which will ensure there are no cuts to people living with disabilities, create tens of thousands of jobs, and help fund local hospitals. What’s more, this budget aims to improve the lives of over 5,000 seniors and people with disabilities by providing more funding for home and community-based services to give them the option to receive care at home.

We elected a Governor to stand up for the needs of working families and this budget is further proof we made the right choice. 

Now we must contact our legislators and urge them to do their part and pass Governor’s Wolf’s budget without delay. Email your legislators today and tell them Pennsylvania is ready to raise the wage, fund our schools and provide healthcare to those who need it. 

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Defending the Affordable Care Act all the way to the Supreme Court

Despite the millions of Americans who now have access to affordable, quality care thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), opponents of the health care law continue in vain to try and dismantle it.

The latest of these attacks comes in the form of King vs. Burwell, a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the IRS regulations that allow those applying for the ACA to receive subsidies as outlined by the law and accepted by those legislators who passed it in 2010.

Michelle Boyle, speaking out for access to healthcare at a rally in 2013, and her daughter, who holds a picture of her grandmother. Michelle Boyle's mother-in-law passed away from a treatable disease because she did not have access to affordable, preventative care.

Michelle Boyle, speaking out for access to healthcare at a rally in 2013, and her daughter, who holds a picture of her grandmother. Michelle Boyle’s mother-in-law passed away from a treatable disease because she did not have access to affordable, preventative care.

Here in Pennsylvania, we fought to help implement that law and get uninsured Pennsylvanians access to the healthcare coverage they so desperately needed. Now that the law is working for so many, we won’t sit idly by and let these unfounded and frivolous attacks go unanswered.

Michelle Boyle, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania member and RN at Allegheny General Hospital, has added her name to an amicus brief being filed in the case. The brief defends the subsidies and is informed by Michelle’s testimony as a healthcare provider and the testimony of other like-minded professionals.

Michelle was an early supporter of the ACA, learning firsthand the importance of having access to healthcare.

Michelle’s mother-in-law, Hannah Jewel Brown, lost her job and with it, her healthcare. She died of treatable chronic conditions at the age of 58, because she didn’t have access to basic care.

“She never lived long enough to play with her grandchildren,” said Michelle. “Our daughters hold her picture instead of her hand.”

It is this profound loss and her experience as a frontline caregiver that drives Michelle’s passion for making sure others have access to care.

“Before the Affordable Care Act passed, I saw patients and families praying at the bedside wondering if this was the time they may lose their house to medical bills,” Michelle said. “My mother-in-law didn’t receive treatment because there were no affordable options for her.”

“I have included my name on this amicus because I want other people to have access to affordable health care,” said Michelle. “So they can live to see their grandchildren.”

Read more about Michelle’s story here.


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Having healthcare means I can finally sleep easier at night

Before coming to Philadelphia, Ayoka Dyani-Ojo lived in Florida and South Carolina where it was very hard to access affordable health insurance. As a result, she was Ayoka Dyani-Ojouninsured on and off for about 10 years.

Being uninsured has been a scary thing for Ayoka. Not being able to go to the doctor made it hard to do the work she is so passionate about – providing home care to those who need it.

With her chronic back pain, basic tasks like using the bathroom or going to the store proved to be a challenge. She often had to go to work in pain because she could not afford to see a doctor.

For the last four and a half years, Ayoka has been working for Liberty Resources in Philadelphia and is a member of the United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania (UHWP).*

UHWP has been working hard over the last two months to connect home care workers with options to enroll for healthcare under the new Healthy PA plan. Although this plan is not perfect, it brings us one step closer to real Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania.

In December, after years of being uninsured, Ayoka was able to sign up for healthcare coverage during an enrollment meeting.

A month after enrolling, Ayoka says having healthcare has removed a lot of stress. Now she does not have to worry about whether or not she or her husband can go to the doctor if they get sick. She is able to sleep a lot easier and for that she is grateful.


*The United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania is a joint affiliate of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and AFSCME.





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Help Make REAL Medicaid Expansion in PA a Reality!

Want to make quality, affordable healthcare available to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians and bring millions of dollars in funding to local hospitals?

We do too.

You can help by joining healthcare professionals like us make a public stand for REAL Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania in 2015. It’s as easy as 1,2,3…

1. Make a Sign

Write out your support for Medicaid expansion in PA and use the hashtag #MA4PA in your sign. You can even make it your New Year’s Resolution!

2. Take a Picture

Take a selfie by yourself or with a group of friends holding your sign.

3. Post It

Post your selfie to your favorite social media site OR email it to Make sure you use #MA4PA so we can find you, like you and share your post!

We want our elected leaders to see just how important Medicaid expansion is to real Pennsylvanians. Make your voice heard and post a picture today.

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Why I’m Standing with Tom Wolf

My name is Aretha Spady. I am a home care worker from north Philadelphia and on Friday, October 3rd, Tom Wolf walked a day in my shoes.

And let me tell you, he wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do everything I asked. He made the bed, folded laundry, did the dishes and SEUI_TomWolf_031
swept the floors to help take care of Mr. Leroy, my consumer. Even more importantly, he listened to us as we shared our ideas for making the home care system better.

And there is a lot of room for improvement. Right now I make $10.50 an hour working 40 hours a week. I still can’t make ends meet and I live paycheck to paycheck. My job does not provide healthcare, sick days, or vacation. In fact, the last time I went on vacation was when I was a child.

Millions of Pennsylvania seniors and people with disabilities depend on having reliable, quality care and the majority want to receive it in their homes. Tom Wolf gets that. That’s why he supports making sure home and community-based services get the funding it needs to provide the best care.  Governor Corbett, on the other hand, wants to cut Medicaid benefits for over million Pennsylvanians who rely on it to stay healthy.

For me, the choice is easy. I truly believe Tom Wolf is going to do what’s right by home care workers, seniors and people with disabilities. That’s why I am supporting him on November 4 and even after to make sure Pennsylvania has a health care system we can all be proud of.SEUI_TomWolf_011


Aretha Spady,

Home Care Attendant, Philadelphia

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Stanley Dawson is Fighting to Save His City

“Tom Corbett has devastated Philadelphia. His budget cuts, especially to the city’s schools, arestanley 1 awful.  Our kids need a good education and they deserve a lot better than they’re getting from Tom Corbett,” Stanley said. “It’s time for a change.” 

The SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania member is doing his best to make that change happen.  Stanley, who works at a Philadelphia area nursing home, is spending nearly two months to help elect Tom Wolf as the next Governor of Pennsylvania. He’s one of more than 50 SEIU members taking a leave from work to hit the streets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown and to educate voters and build support for Tom Wolf for governor.

For Stanley, this race comes down to one simple, but extremely important belief. Fairness.

“Tom Corbett has proven over the last four years that all he cares about is the big corporations, like the Marcellus Shale companies. He gives them tax breaks and the rest of us have to pay for it,” Stanley said during a recent canvass in North Philadelphia.

 “But Tom Wolf is a different story.  Tom Wolf is for the working people and the middle class in this state.  He’ll stand with us, not the big guys.”

Stanley knows that Tom Wolf will return the $1 billion that Tom Corbett slashed from public schools which has forced massive cutbacks in classrooms around the state. In Philadelphia, Corbett’s funding cuts are so severe the crisis nearly prevented the schools from opening on time.

Stanley also likes that Tom Wolf has built a successful business in York County with American-made products. And best of all, Wolf treats his workers fairly with good wages and benefits. And he returns 20 to 30 percent of the company’s profits back to the workers.

Filled with that motivation, Stanley plans to take great pride with every knock and every conversation he has with voters over the next several weeks. He knows it’s a great opportunity to educate people about Tom Wolf and the fight for fairness.

 “I know that without a doubt I’m making a difference by canvassing and talking with voters.  There are people do not know anything about the upcoming governor’s race. They are not aware of what is going on. It makes me feel good when I can knock on the door, talk to someone and educate them so they know to go to the polls on November 4th and vote for Tom Wolf.”

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Corbett’s DOH Cares More for Health of Business Than the Health of PA Citizens

After two retired SEIU Healthcare PA members blew the whistle on the Corbett Administration’s Department of Health and its policy of silencing public healthcare workers on the issue of fracking, hundreds of healthcare professionals across the state are now standing up to demand that action be taken and that the administration be investigated for failing to put public health before gas industry concerns.

State nurses with SEIU Healthcare PA are on the front lines, fighting for the health of all Pennsylvanians.

State nurses with SEIU Healthcare PA are on the front lines, fighting for the health of all Pennsylvanians.

According to the former state nurses, community health workers were told not to return calls from residents with health concerns related to fracking or the gas industry.

“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” former state nurse Tammi Stuck told NPR. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

Health workers were instructed to simply take down contact info and refer them to a supervisor. There was never any indication that these citizens were called back.

Julie Becker, a professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, recently spoke at the Capitol on behalf of over 400 nurses, doctors, and other health professionals who have issued a statement calling for action on the issue.

“The role of the Pennsylvania Department of Health is to ‘prevent injury and disease,’ and to ‘lead the development of sound health policy and planning.’ Yet when it comes to fracking, the DOH has done little to prevent exposure or lead policy development,” said Becker, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

While the DOH scrambles to address the issue, we continue to attack the root cause of the problem — a governor and an administration that cares more for the concerns of big business and Gov. Corbett’s corporate cronies than for the health and well-being of hard working Pennsylvanians.

What’s more, Pennsylvania already had a system in place for tracking public health risks, crisis and disease — our state health centers. Those are the same health centers that Corbett tried to close last year, a move that would put 73 nurses out of work and leave many communities without access to state health services. We sued the Corbett Administration and took the case all the way to the state Supreme Court where we won an injunction against the closings.

Years of bad decisions, cuts to education and services, attacks on our civil rights, program mismanagement, and money misspent on friends of the administration have left Pennsylvania crying out for a new beginning, a fresh start. That is why we are making sure that every citizen who is eligible is registered to vote this election season and that they know there is a candidate who can offer us that fresh start — Tom Wolf.

Have you or your family been affected by fracking in your community? Are you interested in becoming active in the fight for Pennsylvania’s health? Click on this link and tell us who you are!

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Corbett’s New Budget Shortchanges PA

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, Governor Corbett signed a $29.1 billion state budget that demonstrates yet another example of his failed leadership abilities. Not only does his budget not repair the damage caused by three years of devastating cuts to education and community services, it doles out another round of corporate tax giveaways, blocks efforts to make Marcellus Shale drillers pay their fair share and fails to expand Medicaid.

What’s more, Corbett’s budget does nothing to properly address the $1.7 billion deficit he created with bad choices, using accounting gimmicks and one-time tricks to further kick the can down the road and make the situation worse next year.

Here is an overview of Corbett’s Bad Budget:

MEDICAID EXPANSION – For the second straight year, Gov. Corbett has refused to expand Expand Medicaid NowMedicaid that would provide nearly $600 million in immediate budget savings, allow 500,000 hardworking people access to healthcare and begin to create 35,000 new jobs to help the state get back on track.

  • In contrast, the governor’s “Healthy PA” plan is insufficient to provide the healthcare that working Pennsylvanians need, cuts benefits for current Medicaid benefiaries and may not even be approved by the federal government.

SCHOOL FUNDING: This budget fails to undo the devastation of Corbett’s $1 billion cuts to our school system and simply passes the buck to local communities.

  • There is no increase in basic education funding – the main source of funding for schools. In fact, total school funding is still less than in 2008 before the stimulus funding. The $159 million in new funding for some programs comes with strings attached and won’t help to avoid more property tax hikes.[1]
  • Because of Corbett’s choices, property taxes have gone up and 20,000 teachers and staff have been laid off, classrooms are overcrowded, and programs like art, music and music have been eliminated. [2] 

HIGHER EDUCATION:  Corbett continues to place the dream of a college degree out of reach for many students and parents by making tuition prices skyrocket and forcing students to shoulder thousands in burdensome loan debt.

  • This is the third straight year Governor Corbett has offered Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities zero funding relief. In 2011, higher education funding was slashed nearly 20 percent, and has been flat-funded since, forcing Pennsylvania state colleges to hike tuition and fees. PA college students are now graduating with an average of nearly $30,000 in debt – the 2nd highest in the country.[3]

MARCELLUS SHALEDespite strong support to make drillers pay their fair share, Corbett once again let Pennsylvania’s oil and gas companies off the hook, costing the taxpayers nearly half-a-billion-dollars that could have been invested in schools and job creation.

  • Because of Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state without a severance tax and the governor’s impact fee is embarrassingly low at 1.3%. That’s much less than we’re all paying in state income taxes.[4]  It’s time to make Exxon, Shell and other companies pay their fair share on the amount of natural gas they take from Pennsylvania.

 MORE CORPORATE TAX BREAKS – Even though he’s already handed out nearly $2 billion in corporate tax breaks since taking office, Gov. Corbett has once again sided with corporate special interests, giving another round of business tax breaks while failing to support school students, seniors and taxpayers. 

  • Despite a huge $1.7 billion deficit and the need to restore funding for schools and community programs, the budget gives corporations a huge tax cut by continuing to phase out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax and failing to close the Delaware Tax Loophole, which allows wealthy corporations to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.




[1] House Democratic Budget Briefing, 2014/15 Budget at-a-glance (HB 2328, PN 3895)

[2] Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Corbett’s budget falls short on education, health care and taxes, Feb. 8, 2014

[3] Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2012 grads have highest-ever student debt, December 26, 2013

[4] Allentown Morning Call, A tax on fracking would have raised millions, February 22, 2014

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Mt. Nittany RN Advocates for Patients, Medicaid Expansion at White House Summit

LINDA SOLANO_Mt NittanyI was honored to represent SEIU and join President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, policymakers, advocates, business leaders, and ordinary citizens to discuss policy solutions that can make a real difference in the lives of working families at the Working Families Summit at the White House [on June 23]. I emphasized how important healthcare policy — in particular the full implementation of the healthcare law, including the expansion of Medicaid — is to families.

As a nurse, I shared experiences from my 26 years in the profession. I have seen what a difference access to quality, affordable healthcare makes and I know what a difference the Affordable Care Act makes in the lives of Pennsylvanians. While I am incredibly disappointed that our governor and legislature did not accept the federal funds set aside to provide healthcare to hard-working families, I believe my frustration is shared by many — we are tired of people elected to represent us playing politics with our health.

At [the June 23] summit, I also heard people discuss the challenges of feeling powerless in the workplace — dealing with no paid sick leave, lower take home pay or an inability to advocate for safer working conditions for fear of losing their job. This discussion reinforced for me how important it is to be a part of 85,000 nurses represented by SEIU. I know what a difference having an advocate who will fight for safe working conditions, fair compensation and continued professional development has made for my colleagues and me.

There is a lot of work to be done too many working Americans — both women and men — are living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make ends meet and respond to the competing demands of work and family. For me the conversations today were a part of an important discussion that I will take back home and continue to have with leaders in my community.

Would you like to be more involved in advocating for your patients and your community? Contact Nurse Alliance of PA Director Deb Bonn at to ask about opportunities.
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US Labor Secretary Perez Recognizes AGH Nurses’ Quality Improvement Work

As our healthcare system continues to shift toward an emphasis on quality over quantity of care, our members are gaining national recognition in their work to find new and innovative ways to improve patient care and satisfaction while reducing costs.  On Wednesday, June 11, US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez traveled to Pittsburgh to meet with frontline nurses at Allegheny General Hospital to recognize their collaborative work with hospital administrators as a national model of innovation.

“This hospital, this health system, has rejected Secretary Perez. Cathy Stoddartthat false choice that you either take care of your bottom line or you take care of your workers or you take care of your patients,” said Secretary Perez during his AGH visit, “You can do all of those, and you have demonstrated it here.”

This unique relationship between nurses and management traces back to 2003 when AGH RNs established unit-based Patient Care Committees and a hospital-wide Nurse Collaboration Council that allowed nurses and management avenues to think through issues together to make the hospital run more smoothly.  Through these, nurses and management launched a variety of initiatives to improve quality and contain costs.

During Secretary’s Perez’s visit, Chapter president Cathy Stoddart, Kidney, Liver and Gyne-Oncology nurse, spoke about the Nurse Collaboration Council’s  implementation of a holistic hospital-wide program in 2011 to improve nurse training opportunities, change the way caregivers interact with patients and streamline processes to increase efficiency (made possible by a grant from the Department of Labor).

One such application of this program is the Hearts of Gold initiative that trained nurses on how to increase overall patient satisfaction. Within months of implementing this approach, hospital Press Ganey scores (which measure patient satisfaction) soared to 94%, the highest score ever recorded on that unit. Another example focused on standardizing patient assignment sheets which has help streamline patient care delivery, alleviate nurse frustration and significantly lower costs associated with overtime.

“One of the best way to change the culture at AGH is to involve as many nurses as possible in studying a process, seeing its successes and flaws and leading the way to help fix it.”

She went on to attribute nurses’ meaningful involvement to having a strong union. “Our work has been made possible because we as union nurses have the ability to have a significant voice on the job and the ability to foster strong, collaborative relationships with hospital administrators through our union. With strong partners in AGH, Allegheny Health Network, and Highmark – we are improving the lives of Pittsburgh patients and the work lives of frontline caregivers.”

Check out an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about this important visit.



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The Fight for $15 is Going Global

Across the nation, a growing number of fast food workers are joining the fight to demand the right to organize and be paid a $15 an hour minimum wage. On May 15, that struggle went worldwide.

On that day, fast food workers in Pennsylvania joined workers in 250 cities in 33 different nations to stand up and demand that their hard work in building what is a multi-billion dollar global industry be recognized with a living wage. Even fast food workers in countries’ like Denmark, who actually pay their workers a decent wage and benefits, joined the fight, asking why their brothers and sisters in other First World countries are working full time but living in poverty.

While fast food companies’ revenue and profit continue to grow (McDonald’s recorded more than $28 billion in revenue for 2013), the median pay for fast food workers continues to stagnate at just over $9 an hour. That comes to a little more than $18,000 a year, significantly lower than the poverty line. What’s more, raising the wage for fast food workers would make a negligible impact on the industry’s bottom line. While anti-worker groups claim that fast food prices will sky-rocket, in reality, workers’ wages has little to do with the cost of the food they sell. As a Forbes contributor pointed out:

“… a doubling of, or a halving of, or any other change in, the wages of McDonald’s workers will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the price of a Big Mac or the dollar menu. For prices are not set by the cost of production of something, but by the supply and demand for that item.”

Raising the wage would, however, have a tremendous impact on our economy and the budget. The fast food industry’s insistence on keeping its workers’ wages down costs the American taxpayers $7 billion a year in public assistance. A living wage for fast food workers would also mean tremendous gains to the economy and to tax revenue.

Mary Kay Henry at FFS

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry joins fast food workers in protest at McDonald’s headquarters.

On May 21, hundreds of protestors brought the fight right to the doorsteps of one of giants of the industry, descending on the suburban-Chicago headquarters of McDonald’s  in advance of its annual shareholders’ meeting. More than 100 protesters were arrested, including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

“It’s time for the McDonald’s Corporation… to stop pretending that it can’t boost pay for the people who make and serve their food,” Henry said.

We will continue to support these and all workers in the struggle to organize and to make a living wage. You can learn more about the fast food workers fight for $15 here.

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Veteran Nurse Implores Uninsured to Sign Up for Coverage Under the ACA

For the last several years, I was in a very dark place. After having worked in nursing for 20 years, I found myself unemployed, uninsured, and with a chronic health condition.

Rose Yanko implores uninsured Pennsylvanians to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. (

Rose Yanko implores uninsured Pennsylvanians to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. (

I was not able to afford health insurance at all, even if I found a company who would cover me with a preexisting condition. The treatments I needed were much too expensive to pay for out of pocket. My doctor told me that my best bet might be to move to a city with a university hospital and sign up for experimental treatments.  I couldn’t believe that was my option — to move away from my family and loved ones and be used as a guinea pig.

So for four years, I didn’t go to the doctor and I skipped biopsies. I had no idea if I was healthy, if I had cancer, if I was getting sicker. I lived with that constant fear every day.

When I heard about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I decided to call their toll free number. I was able to get Geisinger insurance with a low deductible that will cover my treatments and prescriptions (with a low copay) for only $30 per month. When I heard that, I felt a huge weight being lifted off me — a weight I didn’t even realize I was carrying, because I had become so numb to the despair.

When I tell people about my new insurance, I’m surprised how much misinformation there is. A lot of people think that ACA means the government will give you healthcare, but that’s not true at all. ACA lets you buy private health insurance and provides subsidies to help cover the cost, if you qualify.

My hope is for everyone who lacks health insurance to call 1-800-318-2596 or visit It has literally changed my life — and given me a chance at a long healthy life. No one should live with the uncertainty and fear that goes along with not being able to afford health care.

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