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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.