For Immediate Release
May 2, 2019
Contact Margitte Kristjansson: 619-548-4304
Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a rule change that prohibits consumer-directed home care workers from making any automatic deductions—including union dues and health care premiums—from their Medicaid-funded paychecks. The move is the latest in a series of federal level attacks against public sector unions, including the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Harris v. Quinn and Janus v. AFSCME, which aim to defund unions and silence workers’ voices.
The new rule, which CMS announced will go into effect on or around July 5 of this year, jeopardizes a caregiver’s ability to access union benefits such as life insurance, auto and travel discounts, and essential legal and advocacy services. It also jeopardizes health and dental care for caregivers by prohibiting them from deducting their insurance premiums from their paychecks.
“The thinly-veiled motive in this rule change is to defund home care unions,” said Doug Moore, Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers of America which represents over 110,000 workers who provide home care through California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. “But in their zeal to destroy a political adversary, this administration is endangering the lives of millions of people.”
The new rule will not only financially hurt home care unions, whose members work in private homes and are often isolated from each other, but could also mean devastating cuts to the home care programs these unions protect.
But wealthy backers of these anti-union efforts are in for a surprise if they believe this rule change will silence home care workers. After the 2014 Harris decision took away home care unions’ ability to collect agency fees from non-members, UDW not only survived, but thrived, signing tens of thousands of new members and revitalizing its base.
“We didn’t ask for this rule change,” said caregiver and UDW president Editha Adams. “But we will fight and we will win. UDW caregivers understand that coming together is how we will build power and protect the home care program for our loved ones and clients.”
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW/AFSCME Local 3930) is a home care union made up of over 110,000 in-home caregivers in 21 counties across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide critical services through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes with dignity and independence.