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Calif. Home Care Workers Protest Overtime Wage Reversal

February 18, 2015

California home care workers called on Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on February 11 to make good on his administration’s plan to pay overtime wages to workers employed through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

Workers, chanting “Overtime is overdue,” gathered inside the state capitol building in Sacramento, as well as in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and several other California cities.

California’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget included a 6.4 percent increase for IHSS, part of which was originally intended to pay for workers’ time-and-a-half overtime pay, as well as travel time and wait time.

However, Brown announced that he would not follow through on that plan on January 15 — the day after a federal judge vacated a federal rule guaranteeing minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

Asked why he reneged on his administration’s overtime promise, Brown said, “Because the federal court said it wasn’t appropriate under the federal law,” according to a report by the University of Southern California‘s Annenberg Media Center.

Two unions representing IHSS workers have been circulating petitions to urge Brown to restore the workers’ overtime wages.

In a letter to the Los Angeles Times following Brown’s decision, PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon wrote, “The exclusion of home care aides from federal labor protections is the result of a history of discrimination against women, particularly women of color, who have long done domestic labor.

“California has the opportunity to right this longtime injustice for hundreds of thousands of the state’s home care aides and set an example for the nation,” she wrote.

— by Matthew Ozga

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