December 2011

Thousands of Home Care Workers Join Conference Call to Build a Better Future

More than 30,000 home care workers from SEIU-UHW and ULTCW joined a historic tele-townhall this past Monday to talk about the 20% cut in hours to In-Home Supportive Services and to share new ideas for home care reform in 2012.

Dave Regan, president of UHW and Laphonza Butler, president of ULTCW hosted the townhall, leading with a discussion on the automatic 20 percent spending cut that could hit IHSS consumers next month.

Special guest Stacey Leyton, lead attorney in our current lawsuit against the state’s trigger cut to home care hours, addressed members’ concerns. She reassured in-home caregivers that the state is not allowed to cut consumers’ hours “until the court has a full hearing on whether the cuts are legal.” The full hearing on the cuts is set for January 19th in Oakland, California.

Dave Regan segued into a talk about the broken state of the home care system in California. “We’re at a pivotal point in our history,” said Regan. “We can either keep things going the way they are or we can step up and fix the problem.” That problem, Regan pointed out, is the fact that in-home supportive services is consistently on the chopping block leaving the state’s most vulnerable to fend for themselves.

Looking forward to 2012 and beyond, Laphonza Butler acknowledged that “more of the same” isn’t desired and reviewed three policy recommendations formed as a result of thousands of conversations between in-home caregivers to build a better future for home care.

The first policy recommendation is to secure dedicated funding for the IHSS program that would not be subject to budget cuts. Next would be a policy that expands workers’ roles into managing the health of consumers and to be trained to carry out that work. The final policy recommendation discussed was to create one consistent, higher standard for all home care workers by unifying all home care contracts so that workers negotiate with one employer, the state.

When asked, thousands said they would be willing to take action to support and move those recommendations forward.

Right now, a lawsuit we filed with other home care unions and disability rights groups is keeping the state from going forward with the hours cut. With the threat of the 20 percent budget cut looming, in-home caregivers are getting prepared to protect themselves and their clients.

Article originally posted at http://www.seiu-uhw.org/2011/12/23/thousands-of-home-care-workers-join-conference-call-to-build-a-better-future/

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The White House: Ensuring Fair Pay for Homecare Workers

From The White House Blog:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on new minimum wage/overtime protections for in-home care workers at the White House, Dec. 15, 2011. Among the workers joining the President was Pauline Beck, right, a home care worker from California who is part of SEIU ULTCW

Four years ago, President Obama spent the day with Pauline Beck, a home health care worker (and a ULTCW member). He followed her throughout her day — as she got up at 5:00 in the morning to care for an 86-year-old amputee. He saw first-hand the demands of her work.

Their business is a growing industry — one of the fastest in America. As the population of this country gets older, more Americans are turning to people like Pauline Beck to help make sure they have the care they need. And as the President said this morning, “As the homecare business has changed over the years, the law hasn’t changed to keep up.” In the eyes of the law, homecare workers fall into the same category as a teenaged babysitter.

So today, the President did something to help homecare workers like Pauline Beck. He announced his support of a law to extend overtime pay protections and a guaranteed minimum wage to those who do this work:

“We are going to make sure that over a million men and women in one of the fastest-growing professions in the country don’t slip through the cracks. We’re going to make sure that companies who do right by their workers aren’t undercut by companies who don’t. We’re going to do what’s fair, and we’re going to do what’s right.”

Watch.

This article was originally posted on the White House Blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/15/ensuring-fair-pay-homecare-workers

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We Can’t Wait: Meet the Home Healthcare Worker Who Inspired the President

From the White House Blog:

Today Pauline Beck will be at the White House to watch as President Obama announces proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will affect home healthcare workers like herself. Today’s event has special significance for Pauline, because it was the day then-Senator Obama spent “in her shoes” that informed him of the important work these Americans do and the need to level the playing field so they are fairly compensated for their efforts. Take a minute to watch the video and learn her story.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/12/15/we-cant-wait-meet-home-healthcare-worker-who-inspired-president

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Santa Cruz Home Care Workers and Consumers Win Battle Over Wage Cuts With New Contract

Santa Cruz, CA: Today, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new contract for the County’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers that maintains home care wages at $11.50 an hour, adds a new anti-discrimination clause and paycheck protection to help home care workers get paid regularly and on-time. Prior to today’s vote, IHSS caregivers, who provide invaluable care to low-income seniors and the disabled, had been working without a contract and with reduced hours for the past sixteen months.

“We’re pleased that the Board of Supervisors recognizes the important contribution that in-home caregivers make to our community by ensuring that our seniors and people with disabilities have the quality care they need to live safely at home,” said Bruce Walker, a Santa Cruz County IHSS caregiver and member of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “This vote also sends a clear message to the state and federal government that even during these difficult economic times, protecting the care our most vulnerable residents rely on must remain a priority for all.”

In addition to a 3.6 percent cut to hours made in 2010, Santa Cruz County was considering an additional 10 percent cut in wages, which would have severely impacted the livelihoods of caregivers and those they care for. However, after hundreds of emails were sent to the Board of Supervisors, thousands of calls were made, and home care workers like Sylvia Lucas who cares for her quadriplegic son, Michael Lucas, courageously took the microphone and shared their story, the Board recognized the importance of taking the necessary action to protect this lifeline service.

SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) is California’s leading long term care organization representing 180,000 workers dedicated to providing and protecting quality care for some of our most vulnerable residents.
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TRIGGER CUTS ARE BAD MEDICINE FOR CALIFORNIA’S STRUGGLING MIDDLE CLASS

Extremists’ Refusal to Support Revenue Forces Cuts That Californians Don’t Support

Today, President Butler released the following statement regarding the State’s announcement that trigger cuts to vital programs and education would be implemented on January 1, 2012, due to the State not meeting its revenue projections:

“Trigger cuts are exactly the wrong medicine for a middle class that is shrinking and an economy that is still stalled, and Californians know it. Unfortunately, the intransigence of a minority of extremist legislators who refused to vote for revenue in the last budget is now forcing the state to make even more devastating cuts to schools, universities, working families, and seniors.

“There is something profoundly wrong with a political system in which a minority committed to representing a narrow set of interests time and again overrules the wishes of the majority. In poll after poll, Californians express a strong desire to invest in our children, take care of our seniors, and rebuild our state.

“It’s time for those who benefit the most from the investments we all make together to pay their fair share to help this state recover and start working for all of us again. Fortunately, in 2012, Californians will have the opportunity at the ballot box to break the political gridlock and secure much-needed new revenues.”

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Santa Cruz Home Care Workers Win New Contract!

Region Director, Dave Werlin, Signs the Contract

After more than a year of negotiations with Santa Cruz County to maintain the wages of home care workers and fighting back against efforts to cut them, we are excited to announce that SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) ratified a new contract with Santa Cruz County. ULTCW members voted on November 21st, 2011 and on December 13th the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted on the contract to finalize our agreement.

Santa Cruz Home Care Workers Celebrate at the Board of Supervisors


What we accomplished:

This new contract holds in place $11.50 an hour and enhances contract provisions. We added an anti-discrimination clause and a paycheck protection to help home care workers get paid regularly and on-time.

What we did:

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JUDGE ISSUES TEMPORARY ORDER AGAINST STATE – POTENTIALLY STOPPING $100 MILLION CUTS TO THE IN-HOME SUPPORTIVE SERVICES PROGRAM

Media Contact: Wyatt Closs (213) 985-1698 WyattC@SEIU-ULTCW.org
Scott Mann (323) 333-4850 Scott@BDRK.com

Cuts would impact the care of an estimated 372,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

OAKLAND, CA (12/2/11) – Late yesterday afternoon United States District Court Judge Claudia A. Wilken issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effective immediately that stops the state from proceeding with a 20 percent cut to the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program until the Court is able to hear the case on December 15, 2011.

The $100 million in cuts to the IHSS program are part of the state’s $700 million “trigger cuts” written into the 2011/12 state budget and passed under SB 73. The cuts, which would impact the care of an estimated 372,000 low-income California seniors and people with disabilities, were to be enacted on January 1, 2012, if state revenues didn’t meet projected earnings by mid December.

“Judge Wilken’s Temporary Restraining Order brings a sense of relief to California seniors and people with disabilities,” stated Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “This ruling means that our parents, grandparents, and children with disabilities who rely on the IHSS program to live safely at home will be able to get through the holidays without fear of losing their in-home care and being forced into institutions. It also means that there is a possibility of preventing these dangerous cuts to home care altogether.”

As stated in Judge Wilken’s findings, SB 73 raises serious questions of violations to Title XIX of the Social Security Act, the Medicaid Act, the American Disabilities Act and part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by placing IHSS recipients at imminent risk of unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement. (download TRO at: http://ultcw.org/files/2011/12/TRO.pdf)

Although the TRO does not stop the cuts from taking place, it does prevent the state from moving forward with issuing a Notice of Action to IHSS recipients that would announce the IHSS cuts as taking place on January 1, 2012.

“If implemented, these trigger cuts to the IHSS program would place hundreds of thousands of fragile lives in jeopardy,” said Butler. “Every hour of in-home care taken away from our seniors and people with disabilities places them in danger of experiencing falls, breaking bones, not taking their medications, or even worse. We simply can’t balance our states budget on the backs of our most vulnerable residents. The consequences are too great.”

The request for the TRO was filed on December 1, 2011, along with a lawsuit by senior and disability advocates to stop these devastating cuts to vital care from taking place. The Court is scheduled to hear the case on December 15, 2011, at 2:00 pm in Oakland.

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SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) is California’s leading long term care organization representing 180,000 workers dedicated to providing and protecting quality care for some of our most vulnerable residents.

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