California Caregivers Keep Fighting for Fair Pay

by Olivia Sandbothe  |  January 21, 2015

California Caregivers Keep Fighting for Fair Pay

With a new legislative session underway in Sacramento, California’s home care providers are fighting for fair pay on two fronts.

The members of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 battled for the past several years to restore a 7 percent cut to the hours of care that home care recipients can get through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS). At the same time, on the national front, they joined home care providers across the country to fight for the same minimum wage and overtime protections that other workers have enjoyed since 1938. 

That hard work is paying off at the state level.  On Jan. 9, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget that restores funding to IHSS. The proposal comes after a year of strong advocacy by UDW members. Not only did they build support for IHSS funding, they also managed to secure a promise of overtime compensation.

For the first time ever, IHSS caregivers who work more than 40 hours in a week would be paid time-and-a-half. In addition, the state was scheduled to start compensating caregivers for the time they spend traveling and accompanying clients to doctors’ appointments.

However, the national fight for overtime protections hit a bump, and it is felt in California. On Jan. 15, the state Department of Social Services announced that it was backtracking on overtime pay, citing a recent federal court ruling that overturned the Department of Labor’s wage rules for home care providers.

The federal ruling does not prohibit the state of California from providing overtime, however, and UDW members say they won’t stop fighting until the state recognizes the sacrifices they make to provide quality services. They are urging supporters to sign this petition.

“Physically and mentally, this ruling hurts,” said Susana Saldana of Merced, a home care provider to her 28-year-old son who has physical and mental disabilities. “We aren’t at home relaxing and being companions. We work hard.”

“A lot of us are disappointed,” she added. “I thought I could do a lot more for my son, like taking him to the dentist and having his teeth cleaned.”

Home care providers work hard to make sure that seniors and people with disabilities have the option to live independently in their own homes. The decision to deny them a living wage hurts the thousands of people who rely on their care. 

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