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Connecticut PCAs Granted Collective Bargaining Rights

May 24, 2012

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) signed a law on May 14 allowing a newly formed union of personal care attendants (PCAs) to collectively bargain with the state for better wages and benefits.

“This is what we needed,” Cassandra Parkman, a PCA from Manchester, told In These Times. “We stand alone, we don’t really have a voice and now we’re able to come together and have guidance in how to get the things we need — you know, health insurance, better living wages.”

The current pay ceiling for the state’s PCA Waiver program is a little more than $13 an hour.

The union, which formed in late March, is comprised of PCAs who provide Medicaid-funded services and supports to elders and people with disabilities. The PCAs are employed by individual consumers but are paid by the state.

Malloy had opened the door to the unionization of Connecticut’s PCAs last year, when he signed an executive order allowing both PCAs and day care workers associated with the state’s Care for Kids program to form unions.

While many have lauded the governor’s action, both the collective bargaining bill and the original executive order authorizing unionization have been the target of some criticism.

State Senator Joe Markley (R), for example, said that he opposed unionization rights on behalf of people with disabilities, including one woman who told him that “neither I nor my attendants want to have a union come between us. We have a good relationship, we work things out for ourselves, and it’s not necessary.”

Connecticut becomes the sixth state to allow state-funded home care workers to bargain collectively.

— by Matthew Ozga

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