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Efforts Continue to Unionize Connecticut Personal Care Attendants

January 12, 2012

A five-member working group met in Connecticut on Jan. 10 to determine whether personal care attendants (PCAs) employed through the state’s Medicaid waiver program should be given the opportunity to join a union.

Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) opened the door to PCA unionization through an executive order issued in September. Prior to the executive order, PCAs were not legally allowed to organize because they do not share the same employer.

In Connecticut, people with Medicaid hire PCAs through a registry maintained by the state Department of Social Services. Although all PCAs receive their wages through the state, they are individually employed by the Medicaid recipients who hire them.

The five-member Personal Care Attendant Working Group met twice in December to discuss the viability of unionization for PCAs.

It plans to meet two more times in January before submitting its report to the state. That report is due February 1.

If the group finds providing PCAs with the opportunity to join a union to be appropriate, Connecticut’s PCAs will hold a vote. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is seeking to represent the Connecticut PCAs for collective-bargaining purposes.

Julie Popper, an SEIU communications coordinator, told the Hartford Courant in December that her organization wants to “make home care a viable, stable, professional option, and it’s not going to be if qualified, skilled workers are attracted to working in nursing homes instead.”

The September executive order also established a 13-member Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council, responsible for studying issues related to PCA recruitment, retention, and training.

— by Matthew Ozga

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