Missouri Home Care Attendants Rally Support for Wage Increase
Missouri home care attendants and their allies — including members of the state legislature — are calling on Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to raise workers’ wages to $11 an hour.
The attendants, who are paid through Medicaid, currently earn an average wage of just $8.60 an hour, the workers’ representatives say.
The state’s home care attendants are represented by the Missouri Home Care Union, which is affiliated with both the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In recent weeks, the union has held numerous events designed to increase support for a wage increase.
A “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event in late August, for example, encouraged state lawmakers to shadow home care workers to see firsthand the important work they do.
“We all know someone who needs home care,” state Rep. Kevin McManus (D) told the Missouri Times. “You know how important it is that that person is able to remain in their homes and stay connected to communities and to their family.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give them a wage that provides them with the same level of dignity they provide consumers,” he added.
Through the union, the attendants can collectively bargain with the Missouri Quality Home Care Council, a governmental commission established in 2008.
Union representatives say that the wage increase can be accomplished without raising the state’s budget. The state could easily raise the workers’ wage floor to $11 an hour because the legislature currently apportions $15.56 an hour to state vendors for home care services, they say.
“What we are saying is we don’t need to raise the rate or spend another dime,” Missouri Home Care Union co-chair Jeff Mazur told the Missouri Times on September 9.
“This isn’t just attendants looking for this increase,” Mazur added. “This is the consumers saying that they understand how critical the care is that they get, and that the person providing it should be better compensated.”
— by Matthew Ozga