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Missouri Home Care Attendants Negotiate Wage Increase

November 13, 2014

Missouri home care attendants have reached a tentative agreement with the state that could increase the wages of thousands of workers who provide consumer-directed care.

The Missouri Home Care Union, which represents the workers, announced on October 20 a new contract which, if ratified, would give consumers who hire home care attendants the right to raise their attendants’ wages to as high as $10.15 an hour and no lower than $8.50 per hour.

Currently, attendants earn an average wage of $8.58 an hour, the union said. A press release from the union said that “most attendants believe consumers will choose to pay at or near the top of the range at $10.15 an hour.”

Under the agreement, aides will also receive $3.00 more per hour when they work on holidays. Additionally, aides currently earning more than $10.15 an hour will not have their hourly wage lowered.

The wage increase could affect up to 8,000 Missouri home care attendants.

On October 7, home care workers staged a rally in St. Louis, asking Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to raise their wages to $11 an hour.

Although the new wage deal falls short of that mark, union representatives say that the increase is a huge positive step for both home care workers and consumers in Missouri.

The editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch joined in the praise. “Home health care workers are among the hardest-working and lowest-paid people in the country,” an October 24 editorial said, adding that “the deal is a progressive step for workers and patients.”

The wage deal must still be ratified by members of the union via a mail vote; ballots are due by December 1. If members vote in favor of the deal, the state’s Quality Home Care Council, a government commission established in 2008, must then approve it before it can take effect.

Because the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate to vendors remains unchanged, state lawmakers do not have to sign off on the wage deal.

The Minnesota Home Care Union is affiliated with both the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

— by Matthew Ozga

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