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Massachusetts Direct-Care Workers to Receive Wage Increase

December 23, 2013

Direct-care workers in Massachusetts will soon receive their first wage increase in five years, the administration of Governor Deval Patrick (D) announced on December 3.

The increase will apply to low-wage direct-care workers – known as “human service workers” in Massachusetts — who are employed by state and private human service agencies. Those workers will see their wages increase by an average of 33 cents an hour.

Massachusetts’s human service workforce currently earns an average of $12 an hour, and have not had a wage increase since the 2008 fiscal year.

The Providers’ Council, the state’s largest human service trade association, estimates that as many as 29,000 human service workers will soon see wage increases.

A Fight for the Salary Reserve

In July, Patrick signed an FY14 budget that appropriated an $11.5 million “salary reserve” to fund the wage increase for human service workers.

But due to an uncertain fiscal climate in Massachusetts, the salary reserve was held up by the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). 

Supporters of human service workers, including the Providers’ Council and the Caring Force, launched an email campaign to persuade the Patrick administration to “release” the salary reserve. Caring Force also held daily protests in the governor’s office.

On December 11, EOHHS Secretary John Polanowicz announced that the administration would move forward with the wage increase by releasing a timeline for the distribution of the salary reserve before the end of the year.

The EOHHS released a timeline on December 13 for the distribution of the FY ’14 Salary Reserve and key dates that providers must be aware of to be eligible for these funds.

— by Matt Ozga

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