13,000 Missouri Home Care Workers Win Final Legal Challenge, Now Set to Bargain First Union Contract
by David Patterson | November 14, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC – In a four-year struggle to have a voice on the job, improve working conditions and strengthen the quality of care for the people they serve, 13,000 Missouri home care workers cleared the last legal obstacle that has delayed negotiations on their first contract with the state.
The Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to a lower court decision upholding the results of a 2010 election in which the state's home care workers voted to form a union. The ruling represents the legal end of the line for the union’s opponents, who had sought to invalidate the results of the election and obstruct collective bargaining on behalf of workers who provide vital home care to the state’s seniors and people with disabilities.
“Since 2008, Missouri home care workers have sought to have their voices heard, only to see opponents tie up their efforts in the courts,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders, whose union represents the home care workers in a coalition with SEIU. “This court decision represents a huge victory for these workers and will now finally allow them to begin bargaining for their first union contract.”
The state’s home care workers won the right to form a union after Missouri voters passed the Missouri Quality Home Care Act in 2008 by a resounding 75-percent majority. Home care workers subsequently voted to form their union, and opponents sought to stymie them in the courts.
“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,” said Edna Austin of Crystal City, Mo. “The union will give them the resources they need to improve their working conditions, reduce turnover and provide more security for families who hire them.”
Home care workers perform essential services such as cooking, cleaning and emergency response. They are also instrumental in curtailing nursing home costs the state would incur if home care wasn’t available.