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New contract is major win for Minnesota PCAs and people with disabilities

New union contract is major win for Minnesota PCAs, people with disabilities
New union contract is major win for Minnesota PCAs, people with disabilities 01:51

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A historic wage increase could help address the personal care assistant (PCA) shortage plaguing Minnesota.

The State of Minnesota reached a tentative agreement Friday with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa after months of bargaining and negotiation.

The agreement includes a wage increase for new workers from $15.25 an hour to $20 an hour for all PCAs by 2025. 

RELATED: The vicious cycle fueling Minnesota's PCA shortage: "Am I going to lose my independence now?"

SEIU says the agreement takes steps towards professionalizing home care, establishing a wage scale based on experience and ensuring high-quality orientation for new workers entering the field.

The agreement also includes a $1,000 retention bonus for any worker who provides care for at least six months starting July 2023.

Kerry Adelmann is a PCA in the union who takes care of her son, Keegan Iversen.

"He relies on us," Adelmann said. "I mean, literally, we keep him alive."

Iversen can't speak, walk or feed himself after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car crash seven years ago.  

Keegan Iversen and Kerry Adelmann Kerry Adelmann

"He's my child. What's going to happen to him when I'm gone? What's going to happen to him when I can't do this work anymore?" Adelmann said. "That's something that's been weighing heavy on my heart for a long time."

The tentative agreement on the new contract has given Adelmann renewed faith that her grandchildren won't have to sacrifice to care for their father.

"Knowing that I can hand it off to people who are competent and caring is really, really important to me personally," she said. "We're all still pinching ourselves over what we won in this contract."

RELATED: "It's a full-blown crisis": State leaders hope to address PCA shortage in upcoming session

Trevor Turner with the Minnesota Council on Disability says the agreement is a "huge win" for PCAs and people with disabilities. He believes it will have an impact on recruitment and retention, where the industry's struggled.  

"We want people to be in the profession, to be able to have a career … in order to stay in the profession and to not cause this workforce shortage crisis that we're experiencing," Turner said.

Members of SEIU will vote on whether to approve the agreement in the coming weeks. If approved, it will go to the legislature for approval and funding.

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