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L.A. Home Care Workers Fight for a Living Wage

May 24, 2012

Home care workers employed by the In-Home Supportive Services program in Los Angeles County are pressing county officials to increase their wages by 65 cents to $9.65 an hour, the living wage that most employers in the county are required to pay their workers.

On May 15, dozens of home care aides delivered a petition of support for the salary boost — signed by over 30,000 local residents — to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The following day, 400 workers gathered for a prayer meeting before the Board held its first County Budget Hearing at which home care workers testified.

The home care providers contend that the money for the wage increase is available through the federal First Community Choice Option program, according to a blog post by the SEIU-affiliated United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), which represents the workers.

The living wage increase would cost $20 million.

“Over the past several months we have worked with County officials to be a partner, bringing resources to help fund the home care program and the living wage we desperately need, said ULTCW member Jorge Garcia. “However, in looking over the budget, that funding and that raise don’t seem to be there.

“We are asking that the Supervisors take the necessary steps to put those resources in the budget for a living wage so that we keep home care money at home where it belongs,” Garcia added.

ULTCW represents 128,000 workers who care for 155,000 low-income elders and people with disabilities through California’s IHSS program. The workers have not had a contract since 2008, a San Gabriel Valley Tribune article said.

The Personal Assistance Services Council, the IHSS program of Los Angeles County which represents the county at the bargaining table, backs the wage increase, the Tribune states.

“We think it’s time that home care workers be paid a living wage, so that we don’t have to choose between eating and paying the phone bill,” said Pastor Rob Robbins, a caregiver and vice president of ULTCW.

Other California counties have living wage laws, but whether home care workers are included varies.

— by Deane Beebe

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