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Gov. Brown signs budget that helps home care workers fight for better wages


June 29, 2017

Gov. Brown signs budget that helps home care workers fight for better wages

United Domestic Workers of America (UDW/AFSCME Local 3930—made up of nearly 100,000 In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care workers—responds to the 2017-18 state budget

California’s 2017-18 budget, signed into law by Governor Brown on June 27, contains good news for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care providers – but there is still more to be done to ensure equal pay for equal work for these essential, yet often underpaid, workers.

IHSS caregivers make it possible for seniors and people with disabilities to live with dignity in the comfort of their own homes, a cost-saving and crucial service for Californians, our loved ones, and our communities. But the current county-based bargaining system fails to recognize this important work and leaves IHSS providers at the mercy of individual counties with vastly different budget priorities.

To address county-by-county disparities in wages, UDW has long pushed for state-level collective bargaining. While the new budget falls short of establishing this, it does allow counties and IHSS unions to negotiate wages up to $1.10 over the state’s minimum wage, a significant increase over the current limit.

“Our members welcome the ability to bargain for higher pay,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director of UDW. “But the shortage of long term care workers is a crisis in California. It will take more than a patchwork solution to solve it; it will take state-level bargaining.”

Counties are almost completely reimbursed for the cost of the program, and the 2017-18 budget expedites the reimbursement process.

In another win, the 2017-18 budget protects continuity of care for seniors and people with disabilities by putting into law exemptions that allow certain caregivers to work beyond the 66 hour per week cap. It also requires that the state educates IHSS providers about the exemptions that are available to them, and puts in place an appeals process should a provider be denied an exemption.

“This budget is a step in the right direction for our members, but it doesn’t go far enough,” said Moore. “We look forward to working with the Governor and legislature in the future to address California’s long term care crisis.”