June 2012

LA Home Care Workers Win a Living Wage

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Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law

Today is a great day for our Country and our State.

In a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – landmark legislation that expands access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans, regardless of age, income or pre-existing conditions.

This ruling upholds something that we have all known: a person’s ability to stay healthy should not be a privilege for the few but a right for all.

While we celebrate this victory for our members and for all communities throughout the state, we will remain vigilant to the attacks of Republican leaders who have already set a date to repeal this law. They will spend millions, will try to distract us and most egregious of all, they will waste time not working on solving the issues affecting American families. Come November, we will need to stand united to ensure that a Congress that is representative of working people is elected.

Every 30 minutes, an American dies because of lack of healthcare, that’s 45,000 annually. For the past two decades, California’s uninsured population has grown to be the highest in the nation at 6.9 million.
We are already building the infrastructure to simplify healthcare enrollment, making it easier for individuals and businesses to compare plans and purchase affordable coverage. The Affordable Care Act has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for California which help establish transformative community health programs, expand coverage to millions of uninsured California residents and increase services provided by community clinics.

30% of ULTCW members will now be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion, as outlined in the Act. A majority of other members will also now be eligible for cost sharing subsidies and basic healthcare plans.

Since the beginning, we knew this fight was a Just fight. We knew this cause was a Just cause. And now we know that this law is a Just law as it’s been put to the highest test.

The Affordable Care Act not only benefits our members with health coverage, it uplifts communities and moves our nation forward by saving lives and promising every single American a better future.

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Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry issued this statement in response to the decision by the US Supreme Court today to uphold the Affordable Care Act as fully constitutional, including expansion of care to 32 million Americans, a range of consumer protections from insurance company abuses, the creation of competitive marketplaces in states for individuals to purchase lower cost insurance, and quality of care improvements.

“For more than two years, Republicans like Speaker Boehner, Congressman Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have put their political careers ahead of working Americans struggling to afford and keep their healthcare. Insurance companies and corporate insiders have spent millions to take away the benefits of the law. Today, the Supreme Court rejected their cynical approach and working people won a resounding victory.

“Today’s decision means that Americans like Dezeray Ybarra, a cancer survivor now in her teens, will have the healthcare she needs as she grows to adulthood.

“It means Kim Klinger, an oncology nurse in Pennsylvania, can continue to deliver the care and treatment her patients deserve and see them have a fighting chance at living a longer life.

“It means that Tee McClenty’s son who, like so many of his peers, is struggling to find that first good job that offers health insurance, can continue to have healthcare coverage under his parents’ plan.

“Thanks to President Barack Obama and the members of Congress who believed that passing this law would not only save lives, but endow our children with a more promising and secure future, there are more than 100 million Americans of all political parties, ages, incomes and occupations that are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

“Americans everywhere are struggling to afford rent, groceries and gas to get to work. The Court’s decision today is vitally important because now is not the time to slow down the benefits of the law that is making healthcare more affordable. Now is the time to keep America moving forward.”

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La Opinion: Salario digno para trabajadores de IHSS

El aumento aprobado coloca a estos trabajadores en el grupo de residentes de Los Ángeles que ganan un sueldo digno.

Después de estar presente en cada una de las reuniones de la Junta de Supervisores en los últimos dos meses, vistiendo las playeras moradas del sindicato que los representa, los trabajadores del programa de asistencia en casa (IHSS) festejaron ayer la decisión de la Junta de Supervisores de otorgarles el primer aumento en más de cinco años.El aumento de 65 centavos por hora que fue aprobado ayer por unanimidad por la Junta de Supervisores, coloca a estos trabajadores en el grupo de residentes de Los Ángeles que ganan un “salario digno”.

El Condado de Los Ángeles tiene vigente una ordenanza municipal que establece que un trabajador en Los Ángeles necesita ganar 9.65 dólares por hora para poder cubrir sus necesidades básicas. A esto se le conoce como Salario Digno.

En el condado hay entre 130,000 a 140,000 empleados del programa IHSS que reciben un salario directo del condado –con fondos federales y estatales- por cuidar a personas con discapacidades y ancianos en sus hogares.

Los supervisores Mark Ridley Thomas y Gloria Molina reconocieron públicamente el trabajo de estos empleados y aseguraron que aunque la situación económica es difícil, estos empleados contribuyen a ahorrarle dinero al estado al evitar que los ancianos e incapacitados tengan que vivir en centros de convalecencia.

“Yo creo verdaderamente en la contribución de estos empleados, le ahorran mucho dinero al estado y creo que el pequeño incremento de 65 centavos por hora los coloca en una mejor situación”, dijo la supervisora Molina.

Molina insistió en que la moción aprobada “urja” –casi de forma obligatoria- al sindicato SEIU y a las agencias a que no tomen ventaja del incremento. A la supervisora le preocupa que los trabajadores no se beneficien del aumento, sino que vaya en parte para pagar cuotas del sindicato.

El director ejecutivo del Condado de Los Ángeles Bill Fujioka dijo que la cuota del sindicato subiría de 21 centavos que pagan actualmente, a 24 centavos.

Laphonza Butler, presidente del sindicato SEIU sección de los trabajadores de IHSS, aseguró a La Opinión que la cuota que pagan los empleados no incrementará y que la lucha era para que los trabajadores gozaran del pequeño incremento.

“Este logro es de ustedes”, dijo Butler dirigiéndose a unos cien empleados del programa de IHSS que estuvieron presentes durante la reunión de la Junta de Supervisores. “Ustedes acudieron semana tras semana a la reunión de la junta, viajaron en autobús a Sacramento para dar sus testimonios y no se rindieron ante lo que parecía algo muy difícil de lograr”.

Fedelina Fuentes, de 60 años de edad quien cuida a un anciano de 83 años, no podía evitar sonreír. Ella, al igual que la mayoría de trabajadores, salió de la junta de supervisores aplaudiendo y felicitando a sus compañeros de lucha.

“Me siento muy feliz. Yo sé que es poquito, para algunos empleados pueda ser que vean este incremento como mínimo, pero para nosotros es la diferencia que nos permitirá tener un sueldo que nos permitirá poner gasolina en la carro y comprar algunas otras cositas”, dijo Fuentes. Ella ha trabajado con el programa IHSS por más de ocho años y quiere continuar cuidando de adultos mayores.

El incremento entrará en vigencia en 30 días.

Read the original article at: http://www.laopinion.com/Salario_digno_para_trabajadores_de_IHSS

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Daily News: LA County Budget Approved with New Spending, No Deep Cuts

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a $24.53-billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, its first in four years without significant cuts in public services.

The budget calls for about $180 million more in spending compared with the current fiscal year and keeps departments’ funds intact – a reversal from the last four years when departments endured an average of 17 percent in cuts, and some more than 30 percent in cuts, totaling more than $360 million.

The budget does not include layoffs or furloughs for county employees, whose unions agreed again to forgo raises.

“One of the reasons the county has not seen the level of fiscal crisis that the city of Los Angeles has is our partnership with the unions, who have agreed to no raises for four years in a row,” Supervisor Michael Antonovich said.

“Also, the board does not use one-time revenue for ongoing program costs,” he added.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said, “The county is in a unique budgetary position because of the extraordinary fiscal prudence exercised by the board over a period of decades.”

County chief executive officer Bill Fujioka expressed relief about having a much smaller deficit to close than in previous years.

Read the whole article at: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_20945803/l-county-budget-approved-new-spending-no-deep

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LA Daily News: L.A. County budget may be up $750M

LA Daily News, the second-largest Los Angeles daily newspaper, just released this article outlining our fight for a living wage for home care workers. Read the article below:

Los Angeles County’s budget for the fiscal year beginning Sunday may be $750 million more than originally expected, officials said Monday.

The Board of Supervisors postponed voting on the budget until Tuesday, to wait for additional details on the state budget and how it would affect the county.

The largest chunk of the $750-million difference was made up of more than $270 million in realignment funds from the state, which has handed off some public safety responsibilities to the county.

But the additional funds may not help the county tackle one of the bigger issues it is facing during budget deliberations this week. The union for in-home caregivers has been aggressively pushing for a small wage hike for its members, an effort that has won support from some supervisors even as spending overall remains tight.

The caregivers currently make $9 an hour and are asking for $9.65 an hour, the living wage standard.

Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers’ Union, which represents the caregivers, appealed to the board Monday.
“You’ve heard from the families of home care providers about how much earning a living wage would mean to them, how much more medicine they would be able to buy, how much more food they would be able to purchase, how much more security earning a living wage could bring to their homes and to their families and indeed to their communities,” she said.

“This wage increase will help to get Los Angeles County healthy,” she added.

The union represents thousands of people who care for the elderly and the disabled – usually their relatives – at home. The program enables the county and the state to save money that would otherwise have been used to provide care in more expensive facilities.

This article was originally posted at http://www.dailynews.com/ci_20937137/l-county-budget-may-be-up-750m

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Making History in LA: Unanimous Vote for a Living Wage

Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a living wage of $9.65 an hour for County home care workers. Hundreds of home care workers were crowded inside the board room awaiting the vote and broke out in cheer upon hearing the news.

It was a historic day for Los Angeles and the over 140,000 home care workers that live in the County. Thirteen years ago, a handful of courageous women helped pave the way for home care workers when 75,000 LA home care workers voted to join our union.

Today, we continued that story thanks to the hard work done by the ULTCW bargaining team to demand dignity and respect for the work we do.

This journey has taken an incredible amount of effort, in fact not long ago we delivered over 30,000 signatures in support of a living wage for home care workers in Los Angeles.

We could not have made history today, without the courageous effort of LA home care workers, consumers, supporters and community partners who have showed up with us to the LA Board of Supervisors week after week.

The next and final step of this journey begins later today when we meet with the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) for our bargaining session to finalize the details regarding the wage increase.

Stay tuned for updates @ www.ULTCW.org and on Facebook and Twitter!

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Media Contact: Wendy Carrillo 213-321-7085 or Scott Mann 323-333-4850

Boardroom Breaks Out In Applause As Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Sixty-Five Cent Raise

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today voted to approve a living wage of $9.65 an hour for County home care workers.

The victory of a sixty-five cent wage increase comes on the heels of months of negotiations and several weeks of rallying on the steps of the County Hall of Administration that swelled over the last two days to more than a thousand Los Angeles community leaders, home care recipients and home care providers showing their support for workers to receive the County’s living wage.

“Today represents a great victory not only for home care providers, but for care recipients and Los Angeles County as this sixty-five cent wage increase helps stabilize this much needed workforce and benefits our local economy, said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “This increase not only brings caregivers up to the County’s living wage standard, but helps ensure that home care providers are able to continue to do the vital work they love to do while being able to pay their rent, put food on the table and cover the cost of medicine.”

Represented by SEIU ULTCW, the 140,000 Los Angeles County in-home caregivers who provide care to approximately 170,000 low-income County seniors and people with disabilities through the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program have been negotiating with County officials since early 2011 for a living wage that reflects the Living Wage Ordinance that the Supervisors established in October 1999 and increased to its current rate in June 2007.

“To many people sixty-five cents may seem like a small raise, but for us it makes all the difference in the world,” said Renee Dennis, a home care provider of over 20 years. “The work we do is difficult, but without us what would our seniors and those with disabilities do? This wage increase helps us continue to provide this important care while being able to provide for our families.”

Although the home care program saves taxpayers millions of dollars annually as it is on average five times less expensive than institutional care, a recent study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that home care workers live at poverty or near-poverty levels. This is of great concern as the need for home care workers is expected to drastically increase in the next few years as our population continues to age.

Another study issued by Beacon Economics in early 2012 shows the economic benefits to the local economy by granting these workers a living wage.

SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) is California’s leading long term care organization dedicated to providing and protecting quality care for some of our most vulnerable residents. SEIU ULTCW represents 180,000 in-home care providers and nursing home workers throughout California, making it the largest union of long term care givers in California and the second largest SEIU local in the nation.



It’s Not Over: LA BOS Postpone Vote on Living Wage

Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to postpone a vote that would have finally given home care workers a living wage.

Nearly 1,000 home care workers, recipients and community partners attended the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday, in anticipation of a vote for a $.65 wage increase for all home care workers in the County. 

The wage increase would bring home care workers up from $9.00 per hour to $9.65, a living wage standard set by the County itself.

The amount of support we had did not go unnoticed. It is this type of support that will bring the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to a vote in favor of lifting home care workers out of poverty and giving them their well-deserved raise. That’s why we’re back today!

Today, our presence will be critical in making sure that our County representatives know what a living wage means to home care workers, care recipients and their communities.

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The 99% Need a Raise – Sign the Petition!

On Tuesday, 200 ULTCW members, along with other working people demonstrated in protest of low wages at the Burlington Coat Factory in Inglewood; which used to be owned by Mitt Romney’s investment firm, Bain Capital. Burlington has not paid its fair share in taxes for many years, yet forces its employees to work for a very low minimum wage.

Now more than ever, we need to get our economy back on track, and put more money in the hands of working families across this country.

That’s why we need your help. Together with like-minded progressive organizations, we’re telling Congress that the 99% of Americans need a raise.

Click here to tell congress that it’s time to raise the federal minimum wage.

Putting money into the pockets of ordinary Americans would give a much-needed boost to our economy. Small businesses would grow and hire, and we’d put thousands of American families back to work. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA7) have introduced federal minimum wage legislation that if passed, would:

  • Raise the federal minimum wage 85 cents a year for three years, bringing it to $9.80 by fall 2014. Starting in 2015,the minimum wage would adjust each year to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
  • Raise wages for more than 28 million Americans.
  • Generate more than $25 billion in new consumer spending, which would result in more than 100,000 new full-time jobs, as higher sales lead businesses to hire more employees.

We encourage you join us in telling Congress to raise the federal minimum wage and become a resounding voice for the 99% by signing the online petition today.

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