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Minnesota PCAs to Hold Historic Unionization Vote

July 22, 2014

The estimated 26,000 personal care attendants who provide consumer-directed home care in Minnesota will vote on whether to join a union by the end of the summer.

Union organizers affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led a successful petition drive to trigger the upcoming vote. More than 9,000 PCAs — far more than required — affirmed their desire to conduct the vote.

The Minnesota legislature cleared the way for the unionization effort through a law passed in May 2013.

The Pioneer Press reported on July 8 that the unionization election is being called “the largest such effort in state history.”

Union organizers say that the ability to collectively bargain with the state would improve PCAs’ wages and benefits, and thereby lead to better quality of care for consumers.

According to the PHI State Data Center, PCAs in Minnesota earned $10.80 an hour in 2013.

A Setback from the Supreme Court

The Minnesota PCAs are hired directly by consumers but are paid by the state’s consumer-directed Medicaid program.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that a union of Illinois PCAs who provide consumer-directed care cannot compel workers to pay “fair share” dues if they decline to join the union.

Non-union members will nevertheless continue to benefit from collective bargaining agreements between the union and the state.

Union organizers have resolved to proceed with the unionization vote anyway.

“No court case is going to stand in the way of home care workers,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told reporters, according to a July 8 Huffington Post article.

“We need to build a stable, qualified workforce,” Henry added.

— by Matthew Ozga

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