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/.
April 4, 2016
Today, we took a big step forward in our fight for justice for home care workers and families. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), which creates a plan to raise California’s minimum wage incrementally to $15 by 2022, and provides all workers with paid sick days.
“We must bring balance to an unbalanced system,” said the governor minutes before he signed the bill.
For home care providers, including UDW’s 92,000 IHSS workers, this new law will have a monumental impact. Currently, we make on average just $10.71 an hour, and work without any paid sick time. Many of us struggle to provide for our families and often work even when we’re sick, because we can’t afford an unpaid day off.
“It’s tough for me to afford groceries, my prescriptions, and even gas for my car to drive to each of my clients,” said El Dorado home care worker Lisa Scott. “I’ve done this job for over a decade, and I’ve never taken a paid sick day.”
Today’s victory is a direct result of providers like Lisa and UDW caregivers across the state joining with other underpaid workers to demand more for ourselves and our families.
A few years back, UDW members stood alongside fast food workers, adjunct professors, retail workers, and more in the Fight for $15. We raised our voices in marches and rallies from San Diego to the Capitol. “All home care workers need to fight for $15, because we deserve better,” said UDW member Gabriel Paramo from San Diego.
And our elected leaders heard us. Late last month, our constant demands for justice caused the governor and legislators to work with unions to come up with a plan to raise millions of working families out of poverty by raising the minimum wage.
When that plan was voted on by the state Senate and Assembly last week, UDW members were there to make sure it passed. “No one who works full time should live in poverty,” said Stanislaus County UDW member Lidia Rodriguez just before the Assembly passed SB 3, and moved it on to the Senate.
When the bill finally passed the Senate and made its way to the governor’s desk, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon told naysayers, “Anyone who thinks $15 an hour is way too much should try living on it.”
All of our hard work culminated in a celebration today in Los Angeles, when Governor Brown, surrounded by UDW home care providers and other workers, signed this landmark legislation.
“We didn’t sit back and wait,” said Riverside County IHSS provider Kady Crick. “We fought for this! And now we’re seeing the fruits of our hard work.”
The new law will raise California’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour on January 1, 2017, and then to $11 an hour on January 1, 2018. After that, the minimum wage will increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15. Once it reaches $15, it will be raised annually with increases in inflation. The minimum wage is expected to reach $15 by 2022, if there are no pauses triggered by a slow economy or a budget deficit.
It is estimated that nearly six million workers in California, or over one-third of the workforce will receive a raise – including thousands of UDW members.
Under the new law, IHSS workers will receive one paid sick day starting July 2018, with three paid sick days to be implemented by 2022.
Although we celebrate this amazing achievement by workers, our work is not done yet. The work we do for seniors and people with disabilities deserves more than minimum wage. That’s why UDW caregivers will continue to bargain at both the county and state level for better wages and benefits NOW.
Contact your local UDW office to learn how you can join our fight for justice – http://www.udwa.org/contact.