May 2012, Week 1


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 2 May 2012 19:58:54 -0400
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Missouri Home Care Providers Win Historic Court Ruling
BY CLYDE WEISS  |  MAY 02, 2012

In a landmark ruling Tuesday, the Missouri Court of
Appeals said the state must certify an election for
13,000 home care workers who voted overwhelmingly to be
represented by their own union.

That union, the Missouri Home Care Union, will be a
partnership between AFSCME Council 72 and the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU).

"Since 2008, Missouri voters and Missouri in-home care
providers have spoken repeatedly in favor of allowing
providers to organize themselves to protect the
consumers who rely on these programs and improve
training and wages," said home care provider Elinor
Simmons of Moline Acre. "Thousands of caregivers are
vindicated today, now that the courts have recognized
the validity of the democratic choice they made to be
represented by the Missouri Home Care Union."

"This ruling is a huge relief to people like me who rely
on home care providers to help us live independently and
stay out of nursing homes," added Edna Austin of Crystal
City, who uses home care services. "The union will give
them the resources they need to improve their working
conditions, reducing turnover and providing more
security for the consumers that hire them."

The providers' three-year campaign for union
representation has been a struggle. They were granted
the legal right to form a union after the Missouri
Quality Home Care Act passed in 2008 with more than 75
percent of the statewide vote. They cast their first
vote to join the Missouri Home Care Union in 2009. By an
overwhelming 85 percent, the providers voted for
representation. The vote, conducted by the state Board
of Mediation, was the largest of its kind in the state's

But a judge blocked certification of their ballots after
Springfield-based Integra Health Care Inc. challenged
the election. The court later agreed to call for a
second election, at the union's request.

In that second election in 2010, once again a majority
of those casting ballots voted in favor of the Missouri
Home Care Union, despite an aggressive anti-union
campaign run through home care agencies and in the
press. The anti-union coalition insisted that a vote for
AFSCME would mean less money for services called
providers and went to their homes to lobby against the
union. After that vote also was challenged, a court
voided the election results.

In Tuesday's ruling, the Court of Appeals for the
Western District overturned that judgment and upheld the
providers' vote to form their union. The providers now
have the power to negotiate for improvements in the
state's consumer-directed Home Care Program, and to
address issues like lack of health insurance, or paid
sick and vacation days.

Home care attendants are uniting with AFSCME throughout
the country, including in California, Maryland, and
Vermont. They want to build power through a union not
only to improve their own working conditions, but more
importantly, to improve the quality of care available to
the consumers of their services. But in some places,
like Missouri, they have faced anti-union campaigns
waged by private for-profit agencies - and the political
right - that are trying to prevent them from building
for the future.

With the addition of the Missouri attendants, AFSCME now
represents approximately 95,000 independent home care
providers nationwide.

Read the story behind the creation of the Missouri Home
Care Union in AFSCME WORKS.


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