As of the first of the year, the minimum wage in California has increased from $10 to $10.50 an hour. This increase is the first of many as the state’s minimum wage gradually goes up to $15 an hour. Read more here.
UDW caregivers in 14 counties including Alpine, Butte, Kern, Madera, Merced, Mono, Nevada, Orange, Plumas, San Diego, Sierra, Stanislaus, Sutter, and Tuolumne counties will see an improvement in our IHSS pay as a result of the new, higher minimum wage.
The minimum wage increase is no coincidence. UDW caregivers worked with other low wage workers to convince elected leaders to raise the wage, and lift California families out of poverty. And we won!
The minimum wage is scheduled to reach $15 by 2022, and in addition, the plan includes paid sick days for IHSS providers for the first time in history starting in 2018.
We will continue to celebrate this victory for working families, but we will not be complacent. UDW caregivers must continue to fight for more than minimum wage, because in-home care should not be a minimum wage job. The work we do is worth far more. That’s why UDW caregivers went All In for Care in 2016. We recommitted ourselves to the fight for wage and benefit improvements in UDW counties throughout the state, which you can read about here.
Click here to contact your local UDW office and find out how you too can go All In for Care.
Remember, no one IHSS provider can do it alone! Click here to join our work to increase IHSS provider pay in your county by becoming a member of UDW today.
UDW caregivers started 2016 off with a bang. In fact, we made history.
On February 1st, for the first time ever, eligible IHSS providers began receiving pay for the hours of overtime we work – a right we fought hard to secure throughout 2015.
Throughout the year, we worked with the state to make sure overtime was a benefit for all providers. With our help, the state developed exemptions to the tough new IHSS overtime and workweek rules that helped prevent unfair disruptions in our clients’ care.
Social Security and unemployment benefits for ALL caregivers
In 2016, we also began our work to win unemployment, Social Security, and Medicare benefits for IHSS providers who care for their spouse or child – an issue that has affected many of us personally, including former IHSS provider Cathyleen Williams from Barstow.
“I was Caleb’s mother, but I was also his home care provider,” wrote Cathyleen in an op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Caleb passed away and my job as his home care provider ended, I applied for — and was denied — unemployment.”
With Cathyleen’s and so many other stories to push us, we fought hard to get our sponsored bill, AB 1930, passed through both the Senate and the Assembly. The bill would have convened a committee to look into the financial impact exclusion from basic benefits like unemployment pay has on parent and spouse providers. Although AB 1930 was passed unanimously by the legislature, Governor Brown vetoed it in late September.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to truly put into words the pain of losing a child,” continued Cathyleen. “But I know I want to help lessen this pain for other parent and spouse home care providers who have to navigate the world without their loved one and no social safety net.”
Instead of looking at the veto of AB 1930 as a defeat, UDW caregivers can take solace in the fact that our elected leaders and the public heard us, as we can continue our work to win these benefits in 2017.
$15, paid sick days, and more
In April, we helped win one of the toughest battles facing working people today – the Fight for $15. Because of rallies, marches, lobby visits at the Capitol, demonstrations and more work alongside other low wage workers, our elected leaders agreed to a plan that will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 by 2022 and give IHSS providers paid sick days.
“This a huge victory for all working Californians, but especially IHSS providers,” said UDW President and our fellow home care worker Editha Adams. “We’ve been denied paid sick leave and a livable wage for far too long.”
We celebrated this amazing achievement, but we also used it as a stepping stone. We know the work of IHSS providers is worth far more than minimum wage, which is why UDW caregivers went All In for Care. At the state level in Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, and at the county level in other UDW counties, we will continue to demand respect, dignity, as well as fair pay and benefits for our work at the bargaining table.
Cuts to the IHSS program have a direct impact our caregivers and our clients. The 7% cut to our clients’ hours of care was restored for one year in 2015. In 2016, we also lobbied and successfully urged our elected leaders to restore our clients’ hours for another three years.
Your IHSS paycheck
As we all know, the current IHSS payroll system is far from reliable. Early this year, UDW caregivers decided that enough was enough. We’re tired of waiting for late paychecks and timesheets, and we’re tired of not knowing if and when we’ll be able to pay our bills.
In May, we testified at a joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing at the Capitol to ask the legislature to approve an audit of the IHSS payroll system. Claire Kaufman, an IHSS provider for her daughter Katie in El Dorado County, was one of the providers who told her story. “Last November, I submitted my IHSS timesheet for the first 15 days of the month and waited for my paycheck,” said Claire. “I waited days and then weeks, unable to get an answer about the delay.” Claire was finally paid just before Christmas in 2015, but her family had to sacrifice their holidays so that she could catch up on their bills.
The committee approved the audit, and we expect to receive the findings in early 2017. UDW will then use them to create legislation that will address and fix the problems with the payroll system.
We didn’t stop at the audit, though, and throughout the year we continued to urge the state to make improvements. Finally, in October, after a lot of pressure from UDW, the state announced it would offer an electronic timesheet option in 2017.
Election Day 2016
In addition to our UDW fights and victories, we elected a new president in 2016, and despite our feelings – good or bad – about the outcome, President-elect Trump will take office in January. The incoming president, his administration, and the Republican led Congress have all expressed opposition to programs on which IHSS providers, recipients, and working families rely.
The election sets the stage for some major fights in 2017:
House Speaker Paul Ryan has long threatened to cut Medicaid, which provides 55% of the funding for IHSS.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said repealing the ACA, which has made an estimated 75,000 UDW caregivers eligible for free or low-cost health coverage, would be “the first item up in the new year.”
The Freedom Foundation
And an anti-home care organization known as the Freedom Foundation has begun targeting UDW caregivers – making themselves a major threat in 2017. The Freedom Foundation tells IHSS providers to quit their union in order to save money. Unfortunately, they don’t tell the full story. As a union, we’ve fought and won big victories, not only this year (see a list of our many victories together here). No one provider could do alone what we do together. The Freedom Foundation wants to weaken strong unions like ours, in order to further their corporate billionaire-backed agenda.
Preparing for 2017
In 2017 we will continue to urge the state to fix the IHSS payroll system once and for all, and we will keep pushing for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment pay for spouse and parent providers.
It will also be our time to prove that when UDW home care workers stand together, we can fight back against attempts to take our healthcare, weaken IHSS, or weaken us as a union by taking our voice and power. The stakes have never been higher, but we have protected home care and our clients time and time again – if we stand together, next year will be no different.
We look forward to fighting for home care with you in 2017. Happy New Year!
UDW caregivers are working hard to win better wages and benefits for IHSS providers around the state, because our families need and deserve more. Not to mention, our work is worth more than low pay or minimum wage. We do work that is priceless to our clients and cost saving to our communities, so we’re fighting for a living wage together.
Going All In for Care means we are fighting for better pay and benefits for IHSS providers.
In San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties we’re working together to negotiate an IHSS contract that will improve the lives of providers and our families. Unfortunately, the state believes our work is only worth minimum wage, and they want to keep IHSS providers at low wages and weak benefits. At the bargaining table, they have proposed a contract that would pay providers in San Diego and Orange counties minimum wage for at least the next three years, and would deny providers in Riverside a raise until 2019.
Our UDW contract proposal would raise our wages immediately, and give IHSS providers better health care and paid time off.
But instead of meeting with UDW caregivers again soon so that we can come to a fair agreement, the state has put off the next round of negotiations until late October.
In addition to San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties, we’re fighting for better wages in multiple counties around the state. Call your local UDW office to find out how you can get involved and go All In for Care.
“Why should we be left out?”
That’s the question San Diego caregiver Nicanora Montenegro asked the crowd of IHSS providers who gathered at the office of the city treasurer on Thursday morning. Nicanora works as her 47-year-old sister’s caregiver, and she is one of the estimated 10,000 IHSS providers in the city of San Diego who were left out when the city raised its minimum wage from $10 to $10.50 an hour.
“They raised the wage to $10.50 and we’re left at $10 only – What do you call that? Wage theft,” Nicanora continued.
Wage theft, or denying a worker wages to which they are entitled, has been going on in San Diego since July when the city’s first minimum wage increase went into effect. This came after voters in the city, including many IHSS providers, elected to raise the city’s minimum wage by passing Proposition I in June. Although we were not left out of the proposition, San Diego caregivers were left out of the actual wage increase, because of an unfair decision by the state of California. Rather than enforcing the decision made by San Diego voters, the state decided to continue to pay providers just $10 an hour – $.50 less than the new minimum wage.
“Every other worker working in the city is being paid $10.50 per hour, it makes no sense that the state is refusing to pay us this wage too,” said Theresa Blackwell, an IHSS provider for an elderly woman in her community. “I’m here today fighting for a better way of living, so I won’t have to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck.”
Theresa was among the providers who rallied at the city treasurer’s office. After the rally, Theresa and four other members of the San Diego bargaining team went into the office to file official wage theft complaints with the city against the state. We urged the city to take action on our behalf, and demand the state enforce our local laws.
“Why would people in Sacramento, who definitely make at least minimum wage, decide to pay us less when we need it just as much as every other San Diegan?” Darlene Nelson, a provider for her two adult daughters who live with developmental disabilities asked the crowd. “We shouldn’t have to fight for minimum wage. It is a basic right, and to deny it to us is wage theft.”
Although we gathered to protest and fight for our right to at least the minimum wage, IHSS providers and providers around the state know we need and deserve a lot more than minimum wage. Darlene urged us to be All in for Care, which means we will work hard at the bargaining table with the state in Orange, San Diego, and Riverside, and with counties around the state to win better wages and benefits, and a better quality of life for our families.
“We’re making $10 an hour right now and it’s not enough,” said IHSS provider and San Diego District Chair Brooks Ashby. “That’s why UDW is fighting for $13 to $15 an hour at the bargaining table… We need better pay to meet our needs and the needs of our clients.”
In San Diego, we will continue to fight back against the state’s claims that they don’t have to pay us fairly, but we won’t stop there. As Darlene said, “fellow caregivers, we shouldn’t be making minimum wage… but tomorrow and beyond, we will fight for far more together!”