FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rick Fuentes
(St. Paul) – March 12, 2020 – The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council have both canceled their 2020 Lobby Days that were scheduled for March 19th and March 24th, respectively. The Unions both cited the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and the need for union members who are on the front line of caring for tens of thousands of Minnesotans every day to be healthy so they can provide the critical services Minnesotans may need in the coming weeks.
MNA and SEIU also called on legislators to pass a package of bills that will help ensure we are prepared for what may come, including immediately passing Earned Sick & Safe Time and Paid Family Medical Leave, pay for hourly school employees who may miss work, and more. Knowing this crisis will hit low-income families the hardest, it will be critical to provide economic security to families across Minnesota who are living paycheck to paycheck so we can stop this growing threat by making it possible for people to afford to stay home when they are sick or are caring for a sick loved one. A package of bills to support families from the fallout of the coming challenges will be heard at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning.
MNA and SEIU further call on healthcare providers to ensure that their employees are safe from exposure and transmission, by providing adequate personal protective equipment, sufficient training, isolation plans, and protections for workers who are already sensitive, especially those who are immunocompromised.
Jamie Gulley, President of both SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the SEIU Minnesota State Council, shared why the Union made the call to cancel their Lobby Day and demanded Minnesota legislators step up and make sure corporate greed and our broken economic system don’t further exacerbate this outbreak.
“SEIU members work tirelessly every day in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, public schools, office buildings and in client’s homes to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy. With growing concerns around the Novel Coronavirus, the SEIU Minnesota State Council has decided to cancel our March 24th Lobby Day to make sure our members are safe and focusing on their critical work,” said Gulley. “Minnesotans are doing what we can to contain this growing threat, but we need our elected officials to step up and show the urgency needed in this moment to pass things like Paid Time to Care, policies to help alleviate financial hardships for low-income families, and pay for hourly workers whose job may be shut down as this spreads. We know the best way to avoid a ripple effect of the virus spreading is to be prepared and to make sure Minnesotans can afford to stay home when they are sick. Because corporate greed has made work so precarious for so many families, we need our elected officials to step up and fix this.”
In addition to pushing for legislation to help keep all Minnesotans safe, MNA President Mary C. Turner also called out the need for big healthcare corporations in Minnesota to take this seriously and be prepared for what is coming.
“Nurses want to be able to do their jobs, but they need the proper protection, equipment and training to do it safely in the face of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 infections,” said Turner. “If the nurses aren’t safe, the patients aren’t safe. If employers and management communicate with staff, then our communities are safer. This includes how to safely put on and take off the right equipment, where suspected patients should be quarantined, and which healthcare workers should be allowed to care for those with respiratory illnesses. We can’t have workers who are immunocompromised workers in harm’s way, including pregnant or nursing workers.”
The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the four SEIU Locals in Minnesota. By building the political involvement of the more than 50,000 workers we represent, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans.
About MNA: With more than 22,000 members in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, MNA is the leading organization for registered nurses in the Midwest and is among the oldest and largest representatives of RNs for collective bargaining in the nation. Established in 1905, MNA is a multi-purpose organization that fosters high standards for nursing education and practice, and works to advance the profession through legislative activity. MNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United.