Union membership is powerful! The work we have done together to lift up caregiving over the past year made legislators recognize how valuable our work is to the community. Now, thanks to all of us raising our voices, they are finally recognizing us with more than kind words—they are rewarding us with bonus pay for our dedication.
How did this happen? Caregivers and our advocates made sure the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) included funding to give IHSS providers Heroes Pay: a one-time payment of $500 to any IHSS provider who worked a minimum of two months between March 2020 and March 2021. The state has started disbursing the funds, which they are calling “Care Economy Payments,” and payouts should be completed by Jan. 28, 2022. If you believe you are eligible and do not receive your payment by mid-February, please let us know!
“UDW fought hard for this recognition of our members,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore. “IHSS caregivers provide invaluable care to vulnerable and at-risk Californians daily and this one-time payment is the least that the state can do to support our efforts through this pandemic. This shows just how far we have come and what we can do with a powerful and strong union.”
IHSS providers and other home caregivers are an important part of our country’s infrastructure. Heroes Pay is only a small step toward having our leaders respect what we do and reward it as the essential work that it is. Through our union, we will continue to fight for what is right and keep working for a better tomorrow for all. Together, we can make sure caregiving heroes get what we deserve every day.
“I was so proud to be an American,” said Vicky Coursey, an IHSS provider and UDW member from Placer County. Vicky was one of 34 UDW caregivers who tried to attend a town hall meeting with Congressman Tom McClintock that instead became a powerful rally to protect our health care, home care, and more.
“It made me proud to say that this is what democracy is all about,” said Vicky. “If we disagree, we can speak out.”
Despite reports of possible empty seats in the town hall, most of the crowd was not allowed in. Instead, we rallied together outside while the Republican Congressman who represents several counties including Placer and El Dorado, took questions and heat on issues including his stance on the executive order on immigration and health care.
If given the chance, Vicky would have asked Rep. McClintock not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (known as the ACA or Obamacare), but instead to work on making it even better. The health care law has been particularly important in her family’s life. “I have a granddaughter who has special needs who was able to stay on her parent’s insurance longer because of the ACA,” she said. “I was so grateful.”
Changes, cuts, or repeal of the ACA would have a devastating impact on the estimated 75,000 UDW caregivers, as well as 26,900 of Congressman McClintock’s own constituents who have free or lower cost health insurance because of it. Despite this, Rep. McClintock says Obamacare should be replaced even though a replacement plan that improves and expands access to health care has not yet been agreed upon.
UDW caregiver Adam Green said he wanted to ask Congressman McClintock how he would keep a promise he made to take care of veterans and help the new President do the same. Adam, a U.S. veteran himself, provides IHSS care for a fellow vet, and is worried about what could happen if Obamacare goes away. “I’m a disabled veteran,” explained Adam. “The care I don’t get through the VA, I rely on from the civilian side.”
UDW caregivers from Merced and Stanislaus counties travelled over 150 miles to stand side-by-side with fellow caregivers in Placer and El Dorado counties. Lidia Rodriguez from Merced County has diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis, and said she is thankful to have access to affordable health insurance because of the ACA. “I need my insurance,” she said, “but even if I wasn’t impacted, I would have still gone to stand with my UDW sisters and brothers, as well as the elderly and disabled – our clients.”
Richard Gold from Placer County was one of the only UDW members who was able to get inside the meeting. He said he got in line for the 10am town hall at 7am because he wanted to hear what the Congressman had to say. “I want this to be a better country and better place for everybody,” said Richard. “I’ve never been to a town hall, but I went because I care. I care about our country. I care about people. IHSS is at stake, and that means my livelihood—and my client’s care—is at stake.”
Town halls with our elected leaders and other opportunities to stand up for and protect our health care are happening in counties throughout the state. Contact your local UDW office to find out how you can get involved.
With a new president in office and a new administration at work, changes are coming that will affect IHSS providers, our clients, our families, and our communities.
This year, UDW caregivers face challenges in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Protecting health care and home care, our children, our paychecks, and keeping people with disabilities safe are all top priorities for our union.
Here’s a closer look at our legislative priorities in 2017:
Protecting—not repealing—our health care
Tens of thousands of IHSS providers get our health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (also called ACA or Obamacare). As Congress works to roll back and dismantle the ACA, UDW stands firm in our commitment that the access, affordability, and quality of our health care should be improved, not cut.
Protecting the IHSS program
Like Obamcare, Medicaid is also on the chopping block. Not only does 60% of Medicaid spending go to seniors and people with disabilities, it also provides an estimated 54% of the funding for the IHSS program. The administration’s plan to change Medicaid from a federal entitlement to a block grant program will have a negative impact on our home care clients because it will mean less federal funding for IHSS. UDW is committed to protecting home care by working to protect Medicaid.
Keeping our clients safe
In the past few years, we’ve sponsored legislation with the goal of keeping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities safer in our communities. This year, we will build upon that work by sponsoring a bill that seeks to improve the state’s emergency response systems by giving first responders – law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs – information that will help prevent negative interactions with people in their communities with mental impairments and developmental disabilities.
Improving the IHSS payroll system
Last year, we urged the Legislature to address problems with the IHSS payroll system that cause all too frequent paycheck delays. We succeeded in winning a statewide audit of the current system. The results of the audit are expected in March, and UDW will use the audit’s findings to sponsor legislation to finally fix the payroll system, and ensure providers are paid in a timely manner.
Improving California’s child care system
Family child care providers run daycares in their home where they provide care and early education for many of our children while we work. Unfortunately, like IHSS providers, family child care providers often experience paycheck issues and delays. UDW is working with family child care providers to urge the state to make changes that will ensure providers are paid faster and are notified when there are changes in family eligibility.
Want to help? Click here to call your local office to see how you can get involved in these fights and more!
On Saturday, January 21st, millions of women, men, and children in hundreds of cities around the world stood together in unity as part of the Women’s March on Washington. In California, it is estimated that 880,000 or 1 in every 45 residents attended a local march in dozens of cities across the state.
For UDW members, the reasons to march were as diverse as the nearly 98,000 IHSS providers our union represents, but a sense of urgency and a passion to fight for our rights united us all. We were among the huge crowds of people standing up for the environment, equal rights for women and people of color, immigrant rights, the rights of people with disabilities, and LGBTQ rights, home care, and our health care – rights that millions feel are under attack.
“I marched because women should be able to make decisions about our bodies,” said UDW member Luz Cedeno from Orange County. “And I marched because taking away the Affordable Care Act without a plan, and potentially cutting Medicaid would be harmful.”
The day before the march, an executive order was signed to push federal agencies to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. Changes to the ACA that don’t include a plan to improve and replace it could be particularly detrimental to UDW caregivers and our families, because an estimated 75,000 of us are now eligible for free or lower cost health insurance because of it.
“I marched because everything that many before us fought and even died for is at risk of being undone,” said UDW Vice President Astrid Zuniga who spoke at the Women’s March in Modesto.
As a union, we have been fighters for many social justice causes. We do this work because none of us are only caregivers. We are women, men, young people, older adults, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color, people with disabilities, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, low-wage workers, the middle class, formerly incarcerated people, and so much more. We don’t let these differences divide us, instead we meet at the intersection of all of these identities and fight together for justice for us all.
“It was so amazing and liberating to stand up for the rights of our clients and for home care,” said Kym Icke, a UDW member from San Diego County. “By marching, we told our elected leaders that we are here and we are important.”
“I marched to ensure our rights aren’t violated,” echoed UDW member Camilla Bradford from Riverside County. “Our health. Our choice. Our bodies. LGBT rights. Everything. We must unite, stand together, and fight. We can’t put women back 300 years.”
Desmond Prescott, also from Riverside County, was one of the many men who marched. “I marched to support my fellow caregivers, and celebrate the contribution these women make to our society.”
No matter your reason for marching or not marching, it was a historic day that our country and the world will remember for decades to come. “I took my granddaughter with me,” said Cassandra Sambrano, a UDW member who attended the march in Riverside. “She’s eight years old, and I took her because I wanted her to be part of history.”
We want this beautiful moment of solidarity to spark a movement that is not fleeting, but instead creates a ripple effect that continues to move people to action on issues facing our families and communities. Many UDW caregivers have been social justice activists for years, but some of us are new and need help figuring out what to do next. Some suggestions include:
Let’s keep moving forward, together!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
“After years of battling cuts to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) that cause tremendous hardship for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on the program, we are pleased that the Governor’s budget proposes no reductions or changes to home care services.
However, the Governor’s proposal does include the elimination of the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI). The CCI was an ambitious effort to transform the delivery of health and long term care to millions of low income seniors and people with disabilities. The CCI sought to coordinate services across the care continuum, with a specific focus on keeping people at home and in their communities.
We all know that providing services at home rather than in an institution is not only preferable to the client and their family, it is significantly less expensive to the state. The CCI created an opportunity for health care providers around the state to learn about IHSS and witness firsthand the value of home care. Through the CCI, UDW developed new partnerships with diverse stakeholders in order to promote and prioritize IHSS.
The CCI is a work in progress. It has proven far more challenging to implement than the state originally anticipated. Clearly, there is more to be done to improve upon the program. However, the need for integrated, person-centered care remains as important as ever. We urge the state to build on these experiences and not eliminate them.
Finally, we are disappointed by the state’s move to eliminate the IHSS Statewide Authority, which is currently responsible for bargaining with IHSS workers in seven pilot counties. The creation of state-level bargaining in IHSS was groundbreaking. It was the first step towards achieving uniformity and stability in the provision of IHSS services throughout the state. In addition, it gave IHSS home care workers – some of the lowest paid workers in the state – a better chance to win wage and benefit improvements that would help improve their families’ lives. IHSS workers in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties have been bargaining with the Statewide Authority for well over a year. The Governor’s budget will destroy the progress we have made and destabilize collective bargaining. Because of this, we urge the state to not only preserve but expand the role of the IHSS Statewide Authority to assume responsibility for collective bargaining in every county in California.
UDW looks forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to craft a final budget that prioritizes and strengthens the IHSS program.”
About UDW; United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of nearly 97,600 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
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.
Call 1-866-584-5792, and tell your Congressional Representative to vote to protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid
President-elect Trump and Congressional leadership have committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act (known as the ACA or Obamacare) as soon as January 2017. House Speaker Paul Ryan has argued for years in favor of cutting vital programs like Medicaid (known in California as MediCal). And just this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said repealing the ACA would be “the first item up in the new year.”
That means the health coverage our families rely on is on the chopping block and under attack. And Medicaid could be next.
This is urgent!
We’ve fought hard to secure health care our families can afford, and as home care providers, our top priority is always the health and safety of our clients. The incoming administration and Congress are looking to unravel decades of our hard work.
MediCal’s eligibility requirements were expanded to give more Californians access to health insurance because of the ACA. In fact, an estimated 47,000 UDW home care workers are now eligible for MediCal. And 28,000 additional UDW members qualify for health care subsidies through Covered California, another ACA program. All in all, repealing the ACA will cut the health care coverage of tens of thousands of UDW caregivers and our families, as well as more than 20 million Americans nationwide.
We cannot let this happen, and we cannot allow disruptions in our IHSS clients’ care.
Medicaid provides 55% of the funding for the IHSS program. That means changes to Medicaid could cause cuts to the number of home care hours our IHSS clients receive, put unfair limits on care, and negatively impact our ability to care for our home care clients.
Our clients and families can’t afford for us to wait and see what happens to these vital programs. We have to take action NOW.
Call 1-866-584-5792, and tell your Congressional Representative to stand up for seniors, people with disabilities and working families by voting to protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2016
Sacramento – The 2016 UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW) Legislative Scorecard is now available. This year, state legislators and Governor Brown were scored on their support for policies that impact the nearly 98,000 In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers represented by UDW and the estimated 118,000 home care recipients who receive their care. This year’s scorecard also includes the overall career scores of the legislature and the governor dating back to 2009, when UDW began publishing legislative scorecards.
“This year, your votes supported policies that will keep people with disabilities safer in our communities, provide a path to retirement security for working families, increase the state’s minimum wage, and shed light on the inequality faced by more than 90,000 family caregivers who are not eligible for Social Security and other basic safety net benefits,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore.
This year, legislators and the governor were scored on home care related bills, including:
UDW thanks the dozens of Assemblymembers and Senators who voted with UDW 100 percent of the time this year, and looks forward to building on those victories and protecting home care together in the coming year.
Read the full UDW 2016 Legislative Scorecard here: http://www.udwa.org/2016/12/2016-legislative-scorecard.
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of over 97,800 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
Home Care Provider Appreciation Month 2016 has come to an end, but our gratitude for caregivers continues far beyond November. Together with our clients and families, we’ve been thanking fellow caregivers for their hard work at Home Care Provider Appreciation Month events in UDW counties around the state, and showing our thanks for the positive impact in-home care has in all of our lives.
When asked about the importance of the care her husband Gary provides her son who lives with bipolar disorder, Barbara Ashworth from Butte County said, “If it wasn’t for him, my son wouldn’t be with us. We wouldn’t have our family unit, and we wouldn’t be together.”
Christine Yarbrough from Stanislaus County, who is 94-years-old, echoed Barbara’s feelings when speaking about the care she receives from her daughter Norma Richardson. “She’s excellent,” she said. “I couldn’t do without her. It would be very hard.”
UDW home care providers like most caregivers give our clients the best care possible, and make their needs our top priority. “Home care means protecting my son and allowing him to live a better quality of life,” said Orange County provider Suely Hale who cares for her son Brian.
Our job as caregivers is often our most important. But we don’t stop there. We are also advocates for our clients because we believe home care is the best option for them, and we know that everyone deserves the option to remain at home and receive quality care. “He’s my son,” said Leticia Ruelas, another IHSS provider from Orange County who cares for her son Jonathan. “I prefer to provide care for him and I know he feels the same way.”
As advocates, we work together to protect IHSS, and ensure the program is strong. Together, we’ve stopped potential cuts to the home care program like the proposed 20% cut in 2013. We’ve rallied, lobbied, and marched in order to fight back when elected leaders have tried to eliminate IHSS or put unfair limits on who would qualify. And through our UDW Advocacy Councils we are there to help IHSS clients win back the care they need and deserve when their hours are unjustly cut. We are dedicated caregivers, but we are also a union of home care providers who believe in the importance of in-home care and work together to protect it.
Here’s what more UDW caregivers and IHSS recipients had to say about why they fight for IHSS, our clients, our families, and fellow providers:
“For me, IHSS means my life; it’s our lifeline. Without it we would be on the streets.” -IHSS provider Elke Shafer from San Diego
“IHSS means security for my client. It means reassurance that he can stay home because the program allows me to care for him.” -IHSS provider and UDW’s Riverside County Representative Cassandra Sambrano (middle)
“IHSS means a lot to me and many others because it helps people. This work has opened the doors to a lot of elderly and disabled people who need it.” -home care recipient Rosa Martinez from Imperial County
To all the UDW caregivers, whether you care for your spouse, your child, a parent, a neighbor, or a friend – THANK YOU! Thank you for the quality care you provide, and for always standing together to keep home care strong.
Earlier this year, the State announced that providers who did not return the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program Provider Enrollment Agreement (SOC 846) were no longer in jeopardy of being terminated from the IHSS program.
The State has now reinstated a deadline for the form. It must be signed and returned to your local county office by April 29, 2017. This deadline applies to all IHSS providers who were enrolled in the program before February 1, 2016 and have not yet turned in form SOC 846.
Providers who do not return SOC 846 by the deadline will no longer be eligible to work as IHSS caregivers as of July 1, 2017. In the event this happens, there are two ways a provider can be reinstated:
Avoid disruptions in your work and your clients’ care by making sure your signed form SOC 846 is postmarked by April 29, 2017. Click here for more information from the Department of Social Services, and here for SOC 846.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2016
Contacts: Margitte Kristjansson, 619-548-4304 (English) | Melissa Uribe, 213-590-9091 (English / Spanish)
Home care workers testified at Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing in Los Angeles today, in effort to seek changes to the State Payroll Processing System
Los Angeles, CA – In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers and allies from throughout the state testified today at the Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing regarding continued issues with the state payroll and timesheet processing system, which have resulted in late paychecks and delayed timesheets for caregivers.
With the state’s population rapidly aging, the demand for home care providers continues to grow. According to the California Public Policy Institute, California’s senior population – those 65 and older – will nearly double in the next 15 years. Yet despite the importance and need for this work, the over 460,000 home care workers who provide services through California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) are all too often paid late or incorrectly.
“This year, I was evicted from my home along with my grandson, because of late IHSS timesheets and paychecks,” said Cynthia Wilson, IHSS provider and UDW member from Madera County. “Things worked out this time, but I worry about the next time this happens. Many IHSS caregivers like me are just one late paycheck away from homelessness.”
“For the last two months, I’ve basically been working for free. My rent is a month past due and I can barely afford to make my car payment” said Magdalena Alvarado, IHSS provider and SEIU Local 2015 member from Los Angeles County. “For the last two months, I’ve simply been asked to wait while my situation is sorted out. Well, while I wait my care recipient still needs to be taken to her doctor appointments, fed, and bathed.”
“The payroll system for IHSS providers is rife with problems and unacceptable in its current state,” said UDW’s Legislative Director, Kristina Bas Hamilton. “Today we proposed a number of recommendations – some are sweeping in scope while others are simpler, common sense “fixes” – that we believe will go a long way to make the system more efficient.”
Some of the proposed fixes include a switch to biweekly pay periods (instead of semimonthly) to make it easier for workers to comply with new overtime rules, as well as allowing workers to download their timesheets to reduce the time they have to wait to receive them via mail.
View member testimonies here.
About UDW; United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of nearly 94,000 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
About SEIU Local 2015: With representational responsibility for over 325,000 home care and nursing home workers, SEIU Local 2015 is the biggest long term care union in California. It is our mission to unleash the collective power of long term care workers, their families, and their communities, harness the power of technology, and build a broad movement to disrupt the unjust status quo in order to bring lasting transformational change towards a more just society for all.
November is Provider Appreciation Month, and this year UDW is thanking caregivers for everything we do. UDW caregivers are not only home care providers for our clients, but we’re strong advocates for seniors, people with disabilities, and our families.
Our work is high stress, but it’s also high reward. We are professional home care workers who spend our days looking after the health and safety of our clients. We are there day after day with quality in-home care to make sure they are happy and able to remain in their homes.
But UDW caregivers go above and beyond. Not only do we care for our clients, but we work together and win victories that have a positive impact on their lives. And we don’t just advocate for home care recipients, we stand up for our fellow IHSS providers and our families as well.
Last year, we helped secure overtime pay for IHSS providers, and this year thousands of us have benefited from that hard fought battle. In 2016, we also worked together and won an extended restoration of our IHSS clients’ hours of care – ending the harmful 7% cut for three more years. In April, we helped win a path to a $15 an hour minimum wage and paid sick days for IHSS providers. And we started our work to help providers who care for their child or spouse win Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment pay – basic benefits these family caregivers are currently denied. We’ve proved time and time again that UDW caregivers are stronger together. (Read more about our victories here.)
We’ve faced home care threats, but united we’ve come out stronger than ever. That’s why this month, UDW doesn’t just want to thank caregivers for the work we do as home care providers – but also the work we do to protect and strengthen the home care program.
Check out a Provider Appreciation Month event in your area. And once again, thank you, Caregivers!
Riverside County – November 3rd – 10am to 3pm – RSVP: 866-417-7300
El Dorado County – November 3rd – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837
Butte County – November 4th – 12pm to 2pm – RSVP: 530-894-2702
Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties – November 5th – 12pm to 3pm – RSVP: 877-369-6505
Stanislaus County – November 10th – 11am to 2pm –RSVP: 866-307-7271
Nevada County – November 10th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837
Kern County – November 12th – 12pm to 3pm – RSVP: 800-851-7272
San Diego County – November 15th – 3pm to 7pm – RSVP: 800-621-5016
Madera County – November 15th – 11am to 2pm – RSVP: 559-395-4772
Merced County – November 17th – 11am to 2pm – RSVP: 866-255-7313
Sutter County – November 17th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837
Imperial County – November 17th – 3:30pm to 7:30pm – RSVP: 760-425-4034
Orange County – November 18th – 11am to 4pm – RSVP: 877-483-9937
Riverside County – November 18th – 10am to 3pm – 866-417-7300
Placer County – December 8th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837
The state recently announced its plan to offer an option for providers to submit timesheets electronically instead of using the current paper system. Electronic timesheets could help alleviate the stress, headaches, and hardships that come when IHSS providers are forced to wait for late paychecks. A new system could ensure we are paid correctly and on time.
In this proposal, providers would be able to access and submit timesheets using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
The state plans to first conduct a pilot to test the new electronic system in one or two counties beginning in May 2017. If this pilot is successful, the goal would be to roll out the electronic option to all IHSS caregivers by July 1, 2017.
UDW is working closely with the state as they develop this new process. We want to ensure that electronic timesheets are an improvement over paper timesheets. The best way to do so is to work with caregivers, so UDW will host a small focus group of IHSS providers in early December to test the new technology and give the state feedback.
My name is Aurora Viramontes Rivera, and I work as a home care provider for two of my children in Orange County, California. I am overjoyed and grateful that home care workers are now eligible for overtime pay. For my family, the added income has drastically improved our quality of life.
I’ve always been appreciative that the In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) gives me the opportunity to provide my children with the best care possible. I’m not just their mother. I’m the caregiving professional who knows their conditions and their needs best.
Unfortunately, while I love my work, it hasn’t always been easy. Both Atzel and Alix live with disabilities, but when Atzel was initially given fewer hours of in-home care a month than his condition requires, it impacted our entire family. Thankfully my union, the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW), was able to help us secure 200 additional hours of care for Atzel by helping me successfully appeal the original assessment.
The extra home care hours ensure that no matter who his caregiver is, Atzel will always have the amount of care he needs. Since I am Atzel’s current caregiver, it also translates into real dollars for our family.
The changes for our family didn’t stop at extra hours. When I found out home care providers were finally going to be paid fairly for all the hours we work, I couldn’t believe it. As a professional caregiver, I know how tough our work is, but to know that our elected leaders were finally acknowledging that was great. Overtime pay for home care providers means that caregivers are receiving basic rights that most Americans probably take for granted.
My family sure hasn’t taken it for granted. I have far fewer sleepless nights. The extra money overtime provided allowed my husband and I to move our family of six out of our tiny apartment and into a roomier three-bedroom house. My kids are happier, and I have more peace of mind as I watch them play in our backyard. We also bought a more reliable car, which we use to transport our children to their doctors’ appointments.
Overtime pay means I can actually save money, and my family’s goal is to save enough to purchase our own home. For me, overtime pay isn’t about giving home care providers extra, it’s about giving us the pay we’ve worked for, that we need and our families deserve.
My name is Toni Monique Taloa, and I’m a home care provider in Buena Park, California. I initially became a professional home care worker to take care of my elderly grandmother. My grandmother was originally assessed just 80 hours of in-home care each month – far less than she needed – by California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care program. My union, the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW), helped me successfully appeal the decision, and my grandmother’s home care hours were increased from 80 to 283 per month.
As a person who honestly did not believe in the power of being a union member, this help was just what was needed to change my mind. After that I wanted to know what else the collective power of home care workers could accomplish, so I became a UDW volunteer. As a more involved member, I would eventually become one of the many home care providers in California who fought for fair implementation of our overtime benefits.
My grandmother has since passed away, but I’ve been responsible for my sister Tonya’s care since 2012. When Tonya was born, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain, which caused cerebral palsy. When I learned my sister had been moved into a nursing home, I took her out and moved her into my home. I knew my sister would get the best possible care among family with me working as her caregiver.
Unfortunately, despite the vital, cost saving nature of our profession, working as a home care provider has been rough on my budget. There have been many times when I wasn’t really living, I was just surviving. And it’s not just me who is affected: my sister Tonya depends on me to provide for her needs as well, including food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and medication.
That’s why I got involved with my fellow UDW home care workers in our fight to win overtime pay. I knew we were excluded, but I never knew why. I was excited when in 2011, President Obama announced in-home caregivers would soon receive basic labor protections like overtime. And I joined my fellow caregivers in celebration when the U.S. Department of Labor amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to include home care workers after decades of unfair exclusion.
After the announcement at the federal level, we fought hard, wading through challenges in the courts and from our own governor. When overtime was finally implemented here in California for IHSS home care providers, it changed not only my life, but Tonya’s as well.
Now that I have overtime pay, I’ve been able to comfortably provide Tonya with the food her condition requires her to have. I’m able to pay our rent, and no longer live with the fear that we could be evicted from our home, forcing me into a shelter and Tonya back into a nursing home. Overall, overtime pay was crucial to ensuring Tonya and I are able to remain in our home. And the extra money overtime provides gave me something I think is priceless: time. Tonya has a second home care provider who comes in 20 hours per month to give me a break – something we would not have been able to afford in the past.
My name is Maria Cota, and I’ve been an IHSS caregiver since 1993.
In 2013, I had a stroke and the recovery made it difficult for me to keep working as a home care provider. Once I was back on my feet and ready to get back to work, the UDW Match program helped me find a new home care client. Now, I’m working again and I don’t have to worry about how I will pay my bills and support myself.
UDW Match is one of our members-only benefits. It is a totally free home care referral service that connects home care providers with seniors and people with disabilities who need our care.
I’ve been a home care provider for 25 years, and an IHSS provider for 23 years. It is the work I know best, and the job I love. Before my current client, I worked for a woman with leukemia. But while caring for her I also had health issues of my own, which culminated in a stroke in December 2013.
I spent four weeks in the hospital, and went through at-home therapy for an additional four weeks after I was released. I had to learn basic tasks and knowledge, like my colors and how to make purchases in a store, all over again. It was a rough road, and it took about a year, but I got through it.
I heard about UDW Match at one of our San Diego County membership meetings. I needed a new client so I asked for more information. The process was pretty simple: I completed a caregiver enrollment form, and UDW Match began the work of pairing me with a client looking for care. The program matched me to a client based on her unique care needs, and ensured our compatibility. From start to finish, the process took less than three weeks.
My matched client is Estela. She lives with asthma, nerve problems, and arthritis. Estela was so happy with my care that she asked me to care for her 44-year-old son who lives with schizophrenia as well.
Our work isn’t high paying, and turnover of clients can happen frequently. I recommend UDW Match to any UDW caregiver in need of a new or additional client. Knowing this is one of the benefits of being a UDW member has really made me love our union. I feel like UDW is member-driven and member focused, and wants the best for us all.
Maria Cota is a home care provider and UDW member in San Diego County.
UDW Match is currently servicing San Diego County only. The goal is to expand the program to other counties soon.
For Immediate Release
September 30, 2016
Contact: Margitte Kristjansson, 619-548-4304
The governor’s veto of Assembly Bill 1930 leaves thousands of caregivers without vital safety benefits.
Sacramento – Today Governor Brown vetoed UDW sponsored Assembly Bill 1930 despite widespread public support and unanimous passage by both the Assembly and the Senate.
AB 1930 was the first step for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers who care for their spouse or children to secure Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits. If passed, it would have established the IHSS Family Caregiver Benefits Advisory Committee to study the financial impact exclusion from these benefits has had on the estimated 86,000 home care workers who currently go without.
“It is unfair that as home care providers we commit to caring for children and adults with disabilities as well as seniors, but we’re left out of the safety net benefits all workers need,” said Cathyleen Williams, a former IHSS provider from San Bernardino County.
Cathyleen’s son Caleb passed away this year because of a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. However, because Cathyleen was her son’s IHSS provider, she was denied unemployment pay, leaving her struggling to make ends meet. “We can’t give up this fight. I don’t want any more parents or spouses to go through the nightmare I’ve been through,” she continued.
In addition to working without access to unemployment, many parent and spouse providers worry about their financial futures without Social Security and Medicare. “I worry about my husband who is 62 years old with a bad back,” said IHSS provider Roxanne Bender from El Dorado County who provides care for her 39-year-old son Jacob who was born with a brainstem defect. “Since we can’t rely on full retirement security, he will likely have to work until his body falls apart. I can’t imagine that I will ever retire either. I will likely have to work the rest of my life to make ends meet.”
AB 1930 was authored by Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R – Palmdale) and coauthored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego) and Senator Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg). Although the bill was vetoed, it successfully shed light on the fact that many family caregivers work without access to the same benefits as other working Californians.
“We are disappointed, but not deterred by the governor’s decision to veto Assembly Bill 1930,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore. “All home care providers are workers who deserve dignity and respect. We are thankful to the bill’s authors for assisting us in this fight – and especially to the principal author Assemblymember Lackey for his strong support. Spouse and parent home care providers have worked long enough without access to these basic benefits, and UDW will continue to make securing them a top priority.”
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of nearly 94,000 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
It’s Labor Day weekend. For many Americans that means a three-day weekend to eat barbecue and enjoy the last days of summer with loved ones, but Labor Day represents a lot more. As we go All In for Care at the bargaining table to win better pay and benefits for caregivers, we should keep in mind the history of the holiday.
Labor Day was created by union members in the late 1800s to recognize the contributions workers have made to building our country, and making it prosperous. Home care workers and other domestic workers have cared for our nation’s seniors and people with disabilities for decades, even centuries. Our work keeps this country moving forward by ensuring that those who need it have access to the quality care they deserve. The care we provide allows people to age with dignity, and allows individuals with disabilities to receive care at home rather than institutions.
It’s important to recognize the achievements and value of workers, but to also remember that some workers, including home care providers remain undervalued and underappreciated. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1896, but IHSS providers still work without paid holidays. And until last year, we’d endured decades of exclusion from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which gave most workers overtime pay benefits almost 80 years ago.
UDW caregiver William Reed from Placer County provides care for his adult son who lives with autism. William recently spoke out about the need to treat IHSS providers with the same respect as other workers. “Our work is real work,” he said. “It’s time to make a change, and start treating the work of all home care providers with dignity and respect.”
It’s true, and UDW caregivers have had to fight for many of the same basic rights most workers enjoy automatically. Whether it’s securing overtime, stopping cuts to the IHSS program, or helping raise the state’s minimum wage; we have proved that when we fight together, we can win!
Marcus Haynes is an IHSS provider in Riverside County. He provides care for his uncle who lives with schizophrenia. Marcus is also a member of the bargaining team that includes other UDW members from Riverside, as well as San Diego and Orange counties. Providers in those counties are currently in contract negotiations with the state in an effort to win better pay and benefits for IHSS providers in all three counties. “Some of us do the same work as nurses, but we don’t make a living wage,” said Marcus. “Bargaining together gives us all a voice in the process to improve our wages.”
Marcus and the bargaining team are fighting for an immediate raise, improved health care, paid sick leave, and vacation time. However, the state continues to devalue our work. The state’s contract proposal includes keeping providers at minimum wage with no raise, and no improvements to our benefits.
We will continue to fight, because we are All In for Care! Whether you are bargaining with the state, or
your county’s public authority, we must all continue to unite together to win more for our families. Darlene Nelson who works as an IHSS provider for her two adult daughters recently spoke out about not settling for low wages and poor benefits at a rally in San Diego. “Our work and our clients’ care is worth far more than the minimum,” she said. “I’m all in for care!”
This Labor Day weekend and beyond, if you are All In for Care, call 1-866-584-5792, and tell your lawmaker to support pay and benefit increases for IHSS providers.
Yesterday, UDW caregivers from around the state gathered in Sacramento to urge Governor Brown to sign Assembly Bill 1930. We delivered petitions signed by over 3,600 IHSS providers and members of our communities to his office in the Capitol.
Assembly Bill 1930 addresses a problem facing an estimated 86,000 parent and spouse IHSS providers who are currently left out of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits because of unfair state and federal policies.
“Parent and spouse providers work as hard as other home care workers,” said Lidia Rodriguez who works as the home care provider for her son and a 73-year-old woman in Stanislaus County. “All workers should have access to these benefits.”
Susana Saldana provides care for her son Mario who lives with cerebral palsy in Merced County. Unlike Lidia who should receive Social Security and other benefits for the work she does for her elderly, non-family client, Susana cares solely for Mario and she’s worried about her future. “I may not be able to retire,” she said. “I could end up homeless without Social Security.”
If AB 1930 becomes law, it will be the first step in our journey to secure these vital retirement and social safety net benefits for home care workers who care for their spouse or child. The bill would establish the In-Home Supportive Services Family Caregiver Benefits Advisory Committee, which would study how denying workers benefits like Social Security and unemployment hurt IHSS providers and our families. “It’s an injustice,” said Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R – Palmdale), the author of AB 1930. “It’s something that is very wrong with our system.”
So far, with help from UDW caregivers, as well as Assemblymember Lackey and the bill’s coauthors, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego) and Senator Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg), AB 1930 has gathered widespread public support and was passed by both the Assembly and the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support.
Another member of the legislature, Assemblymember Cheryl Brown (D – San Bernardino) who serves as a caregiver for her husband who lives with ALS, came out to support caregivers yesterday. “Home care providers do the tough, stressful, yet vital work of looking after the day-to-day needs of the people for whom they care,” she said. “Despite the important nature of in-home care, all caregivers are not treated equally.”
UDW Executive Director Doug Moore thanked the legislature for their support, and called on Governor Brown to follow suit. “Home care workers, like nearly every worker in this country, including our governor, should at the very least receive Social Security when they retire,” he said.
William Reed takes care of his 39-year-old son in Placer County. His son lives with autism and requires constant care. Although William receives retirement benefits from a previous job, he worries about his wife who doesn’t pay into Social Security or Medicare. “We follow the same guidelines,” he said. “We’re held up to the same standards as all IHSS home care providers…We are paid caregivers. This work is our job. We deserve to retire with the same benefits as nearly every other American worker.”
Cathyleen Williams’ son Caleb was born with a terminal heart defect. Cathyleen worked as Caleb’s IHSS provider in Barstow until he passed away in March. When she applied for unemployment, Cathyleen was denied, because her home care client was her son.
“No one should have to endure the death of their young child,” she said. “But to grieve while also scrambling to make sure your bills are paid and that you don’t end up homeless? I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on my greatest enemy.”
William and Cathyleen were joined by about a dozen UDW caregivers as they walked the petitions into the Capitol. Once inside, William and Cathyleen, accompanied by UDW Executive Director Doug Moore, Assemblymember Cheryl Brown, and Assemblymember Lackey took the petitions into the governor’s office. Assemblymember Lackey gave our message to a member of Governor Brown’s staff: “These are support petitions for this particular measure the governor will be evaluating soon. The measure was unanimous in both houses…it’s very, very important to very many people.”
Yesterday, with the delivery of our petitions, we gave Governor Brown over 3,600 reasons to do what is right and sign Assembly Bill 1930. He has until the end of September to sign or veto the bill.
For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Contact: Margitte Kristjansson, 619-548-4304
California home care providers who care for their spouse or child are ineligible for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits.
Sacramento – Today In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care workers met at the Capitol to deliver petitions to Governor Brown signed by over 3,500 Californians. The petitions call on the governor to sign Assembly Bill 1930, a bill sponsored by the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930, and authored by Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R – Palmdale) with coauthors Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D – San Diego) and Senator Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg).
If a home care provider’s client is their spouse or child, they are excluded from making contributions to FICA and State Unemployment Insurance – leaving them ineligible for Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment pay. AB 1930 begins to address this injustice by convening a committee to study the economic impact exclusion from these benefits has on home care workers and their families.
“All caregivers work hard for their clients, and all caregivers deserve these very basic benefits,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore. “Today, we call on Governor Brown to help us in our work to fix this issue by signing AB 1930.”
“In-home care workers who care for their families are entitled to the same employment benefits that every other worker in the same program receives,” added Assemblymember Lackey.
Cathyleen Williams from Barstow worked as her son Caleb’s IHSS home care provider for nine and a half years until he passed away in March. When Cathyleen applied for unemployment insurance, she was denied because Caleb – her home care client – was her son. “No one should have to endure the death of their young child,” said Cathyleen. “But to grieve while also scrambling to make sure your bills are paid and you don’t end up homeless? I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on my greatest enemy.”
William Reed, a home care provider for his 39-year-old son with autism in Placer County worries about not only his own retirement plans, but those of his fellow spouse and parent caregivers as well. “We deal with high levels of stress, work without real respite time, or paid leave, and to add insult to injury, we can’t even count on Social Security or Medicare when we retire,” he said.
AB 1930 was passed unanimously by both the Senate and the Assembly. Caregivers are calling on Governor Brown to look at the human impact that life without access to unemployment benefits, Social Security, and Medicare has on caregivers, and sign AB 1930.
My oldest son Ronald was studying to become a professor when one day he had a catastrophic stroke that left him quadriplegic, non-verbal, and dependent on a feeding tube. After his stroke, he was initially in a nursing home, but I could see it wasn’t good for his health. My family decided the best thing for him was to receive care at home. About eight years ago, I quit my job of 16 years to become Ronald’s full-time home care provider.
All of my money goes to my bills. I don’t have enough to set aside in a savings account. At this point, I just have to hope nothing happens to me. It isn’t easy caring for someone with my son’s needs, but I plan to keep providing him care as long as he needs me. Not only because it is what’s best for him, but also because without Social Security, I can’t afford to retire. Parents and spouses who provide care for their loved ones deserve the same benefits as all other working Americans.
Patricia Kutzer is an IHSS provider for her son Ronald in Madera County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.
Statement by UDW Executive Director Doug Moore in response to the 2016-17 California state budget:
Today we celebrate another hard-won victory for California home care providers and recipients. The state budget, signed into law by Governor Brown yesterday, is a testament to the work of the UDW caregivers who have advocated for years to protect the home care program in California. These providers have worked tirelessly to demand dignity for their profession, and respect for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on their care.
The budget fully funds the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program for the next three years, which means IHSS clients will receive all of the necessary hours of care that have been assessed by social workers. Last year, these hours were restored for a one-year period after being cut for the previous four years.
While UDW is thankful to our elected leaders for taking action in this budget, our work is not done.
We will remain diligent in our work to restore IHSS hours permanently, because Californians who rely on care need more than a temporary fix. In-home care allows some of our most vulnerable neighbors and loved ones to remain healthy and safe in their homes. A permanent end to IHSS cuts is necessary to ensure people who need home care services no longer live in fear that their care will be cut or taken away from them.
When Madera County caregiver Cynthia Wilson’s IHSS paycheck didn’t arrive on time in January, she and her grandson lost their apartment.
Thankfully, they were able to turn to friends and neighbors for help, but since then she has been terrified that another late paycheck or unexpected expense could leave her homeless again. And that worry increases exponentially when Cynthia thinks about retirement, because like many IHSS providers, Cynthia has no retirement benefits or savings.
“I’m 62,” said Cynthia. “If I work until I’m 70, I might get about $1,200 a month from Social Security, but that’s not set in stone either.”
Cynthia shares a worry that many UDW caregivers who are eligible to pay into social security can understand: will it be enough when we retire? “I’m scared that it won’t be, and my grandson and I could end up homeless again,” she said. I’m raising him now, so whatever affects me affects him. If I can’t buy food, he can’t eat. If I can’t pay the electricity bill, he sits in the dark with me.”
If passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor, Senate Bill 1234 would implement the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program on January 1, 2017. This program would provide workers – including all IHSS providers once it’s determined to be legally permissible under state and federal laws- with the opportunity to contribute a small percentage of their wages towards their own retirement savings account. There will be no employer match but this is an important first step toward easing some of the worries about the future that caregivers like Cynthia live with every day. And IHSS providers are not alone: about 7.5 million workers in California lack access to a retirement savings program, and three out of five families with a head-of-household that is 65 or older have no retirement money saved.
“Being able to actually put money aside for retirement would give me a little extra,” said Cynthia. “I don’t want to have to rely on food stamps and other public assistance. I want to feel secure, and at least able to take care of my basic needs.”
Kady Crick, an IHSS provider from Riverside County, echoed Cynthia’s feelings. “I’ll be 61 this year. I want to know I have a cushion besides Social Security when I retire,” she said. “This program would give my husband and me more comfort for the future, because Social Security may not be enough.”
SB 1234 currently includes IHSS providers, and if we are determined to be eligible for the program, the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program will help IHSS caregivers take control of our financial future, so we can retire with dignity.
And we’re still working to secure basic retirement benefits like Social Security and Medicare for parent and spouse IHSS providers. Read more here: http://www.udwa.org/2016/05/help-caregivers-win-social-security-medicare/.
My husband David’s meningitis caused paralysis on the left side of his body and several neurological problems. For a while I was able to continue working my full-time job, and pay into important programs like Social Security and Medicare. But as David’s condition worsened, I had to start reevaluating what was best for our family. David became reliant on a wheelchair seven years ago, and that’s when I knew it was time to change jobs. I left my old job, and became my husband’s full-time home care provider.
When I found out that I was no longer able to pay into Social Security and Medicare, I became really stressed. I hope I worked enough years in other jobs to qualify for some Social Security, but I’m not sure.
I don’t understand how I can work full time, but be denied basic benefits. I can’t and shouldn’t have to leave my current job as my husband’s home care provider just to become eligible for programs other workers qualify for automatically.
Reyna Tellez is an IHSS provider for her husband David in Imperial County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.
When my daughter Delaina was in second grade, an undiagnosed tumor in her brain hemorrhaged and left her with brain damage. Now, Delaina is 22 years old, and I work as her home care provider. She can understand me, but has behavior issues. Delaina can do basic math and write her name, but it’s hard for her to learn more. She’s also lost her ability to walk or feed herself.
We live month to month, because I don’t make much as Delaina’s full-time home care provider. And if something were to happen to IHSS and I lost my job as her provider, I wouldn’t even qualify for unemployment. In the time it could take me to find a new job, I could lose my home, my car – everything.
I’m 45 now, but I’m concerned about what will happen to me when I get older. Being told I’m not eligible to pay into FICA makes me feel like the quality in-home care I provide isn’t considered real work.
Christine Baur is an IHSS provider for her daughter Delaina in Kern County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.