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Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019: A Look at the Year Ahead

$1 minimum wage increase coming January 1stand so much more

As caregivers, we know two things: Our clients need IHSS and we need higher pay. That’s why our union will focus on protecting our program and raising caregiver pay in the coming year. But to win on those issues, we must also fight the other injustices that keep us from achieving our goals—injustices like poverty, racism, and violence. So, as we are pushing for better caregiver pay and IHSS funding, we will also be working toward making our communities healthier, safer, and more just.

Here’s what’s happening in 2019:

Raising IHSS Pay

Thanks to advocacy from UDW members and our allies across the state, we won a statewide minimum wage increase to $15 in 2022  and, starting January 1, the minimum wage increases to $12/hour. That means any IHSS provider not currently making $12/hour or more will see an increase in our wages on our January 1-15 paychecks!

Right now, IHSS caregiver pay is set at the county level by unions negotiating with local county boards of supervisors. That means Orange County has different pay than San Diego, Placer has different pay than Santa Barbara, and local officials have too much power over such important decisions. We believe IHSS providers and clients would be better off if we could bargain as one statewide unit. We would have a louder voice and more bargaining power to get what we need. That’s why pushing for statewide collective bargaining is one of our priorities for 2019.

Protecting IHSS

By now you have been contacted by a UDW to let you know that we all have to reauthorize our memberships. Why is this happening? Because the government in Washington, D.C. decided we don’t have the right to decide what to do with our own paychecks and is changing the rules so we can’t have dues and other payments automatically deducted from our IHSS paychecks. We are fighting the rule change in the halls of power, but in the meantime,  we have to change the way we collect dues. If you don’t sign the new card you may lose your UDW membership and benefits! So we need to make sure that we all sign a reauthorization cardASAP.

Another way we are protecting IHSS is by protecting its funding. As you probably know, California made a seven percent across-the-board cut to IHSS in 2013. That meant fewer care hours for hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities. We fought back and in 2015we helped the state work out a temporary way to pay for the lost IHSS funds. But that temporary funding will expire in June 2019. With a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus, there is no reason IHSS providers and clients should continue to face the threat of losing critical hours of service. And, with a new governor in office–Gavin Newsom, who we supported—the time is right for us to push to permanently end the seven percent cut once and for all.

Long term care for everyone who needs it

The government has a wonky term for the policies and planning it does for seniors and people with disabilities: Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS). As caregivers (and clients), we are experts in LTSS and we need a seat at the table as the state plans the future of care in California.

In 2018, we got the legislature to approve $3 million to fund research into LTSS so California can start making real, meaningful changes in the LTSS system. For us, that means ensuring that everyone who needs care gets it—and everyone who wants to be cared for at home can do so. With a new governor who has promised to make long to care a priority, there will be a lot of new, exciting ideas about improving long term care for everyone. We and our allies will be there to make sure caregivers are part of the discussion.

Read more about our Care Agenda here.

Safety and justice for all

It’s scary to think about but the facts don’t lie: people like our clients with physical, developmental or cognitive disabilities or impairments are at an increased risk of having an encounter with police end in injury or death. Recent research says about half of the people who die at the hands of police have some kind of disability.UDW has been working on this issue for some time .

This year we will be ramping up our efforts by organizing our allies and partners in law enforcement to support our bill AB 437, which gives people with disabilities and their families the ability to voluntarily provide important information about themselves – information about their disability, signals of distress, and calming strategies – to law enforcement in advance of a crisis.

Like people with disabilities, people of color are more likely to be harmed or killed in interactions with police. UDW’s membership is a majority women of color; we know firsthand the fear that we or our loved ones will suffer when a misunderstanding with law enforcement becomes a life or death situation. To change the relationship between poor communities and communities of color, we are supporting AB 931, a bill that would require law enforcement officers to exhaust all other means of de-escalation before using deadly force.

All of these goals will raise up caregivers and give our clients and families a safer, more secure, and more prosperous life. And we will only achieve them if we stand together and use our combined power to demand what’s right.

Stay tuned for ways you can help protect IHSS, raise caregiver pay, and make a better California for all families!