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Wage Increases Coming for Thousands of California IHSS Workers

March 16, 2016

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care workers in two California counties have secured new contracts that include wage increases.

Sonoma County

The estimated 5,000 IHSS workers in Sonoma County will receive a two-step wage increase. Hourly Wages will go up from $11.65 to $12.50 as soon as the state approves the change. A second increase, to $13/hour, will automatically kick in on March 1, 2017.

It will be the first wage increase for Sonoma County’s IHSS workers, who are represented by SEIU 2015, in over three years. The contract was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors at their March 15 meeting.

Last year, IHSS workers attended numerous board meetings, asking to be included in the county’s living-wage ordinance, which would have set their minimum wage at $15/hour.

But the board ultimately carved IHSS workers out of the ordinance. Last year, it offered to increase IHSS workers’ hourly wages by just 20 cents over the course of four years.

The much higher wage increase that Sonoma County’s IHSS workers eventually secured represents an “overwhelming victory,” home care worker and bargaining team member Paul Esparza said in an SEIU press release. “We are so pleased with our raise.”

Contra Costa County

Meanwhile, IHSS workers in Contra Costa County had a new contract approved at a March 15 meeting of the county board of supervisors. Their hourly wages will go up from $11.50 to $12 as soon as the state approves the increase, followed by an automatic raise to $12.25 on January 1.

The county’s IHSS workers — who are also represented by SEIU 2015 — will also get to keep their health plan as well as their pension plan.

The wage hike represents the first wage increase for Contra Costa County IHSS workers in seven years.

Home care worker Melody Lacy, speaking at the March 15 meeting, told the board that the contract was approved “overwhelmingly” by union members, and that it is a sign of better things to come.

“We are convinced that we’re on a path to win a living wage,” Lacy said.

The contract expires in June 2018.

— by Matthew Ozga

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