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.
Yesterday, UDW caregivers joined Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez at a Joint Legislative Audit Committee hearing at the Capitol to request an audit of the IHSS timesheet system. After hearing testimony and comments from providers and home care recipients, the committee voted unanimously (11 to 0) to begin an audit of the system to find out what’s wrong, so it can be fixed.
Far too many IHSS providers know what it’s like to wait days, weeks, or months for a late paycheck. We know what it’s like to set our household budget for the month, only to have it thrown off completely when our check doesn’t come on time or at all. Too many of us have been put in a financial bind, struggling to pay our rent and bills on time, because we weren’t paid timely.
The current IHSS timesheet system has been a sore spot for thousands of IHSS providers. The outdated and flawed system has negatively impacted caregivers, and even led to 65,000 missing timesheets in Los Angeles in 2015.
Yesterday, we stood together to proclaim: “Enough is enough!”
During the hearing, Assemblymember Gonzalez expressed the frustrations of thousands of IHSS caregivers. She likened providers dealing with late paychecks or no paychecks at all to wage theft. She urged committee members to treat IHSS providers with the same dignity and respect as other workers by approving the audit, so we can fix the system and ensure providers are paid timely and correctly.
UDW caregiver Claire Kaufman from El Dorado County testified before the committee of State Senators and Assemblymembers. “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.”
When Claire finally spoke to someone about her late paycheck, she was told the system that reads our timesheets was unable to decipher a ‘6’ on her timesheet. Like many of us have done in the past, Claire had to request a duplicate timesheet, resubmit the duplicate, and then wait on her check. By the time Claire was finally paid, it was almost Christmas.
“Once I caught up on my bills, there wasn’t much left over to make it a merry Christmas for my daughters,” Claire said. “If my union hadn’t given my family a basket of food, we wouldn’t have even had Christmas dinner.”
Gregory Barney, an IHSS provider from Merced County echoed Claire’s frustrations. When he stood up to give public comment he told the committee about a paycheck he has yet to receive from last year. He explained that he wanted to speak up during the hearing, because late paychecks were too frequent a problem for too many providers. “I’m retired military,” said Gregory. “I understand there will be hiccups sometimes. I let it go last year, but then it happened again.”
Crystal Mourad is an IHSS care recipient in Butte County. She has four IHSS providers she relies on to keep her healthy and safe in her home. She attended the hearing to speak on their behalf, and on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities who rely on IHSS caregivers.
Crystal explained that she has a provider who is still awaiting a check that should have arrived in January. “When my caregivers don’t get paid, I lose my caregivers,” said Crystal explaining that it is tough for IHSS providers to work without a reliable paycheck. “I depend on my caregivers,” she continued. “They’re not a luxury. They’re a necessity.”
The committee was visibly upset to hear that IHSS providers have to deal with delayed paychecks, putting our ability to provide for our families’ at risk and putting the care of recipients like Crystal in jeopardy. Their visible frustration led to a unanimous vote of approval of the audit of the IHSS timesheet system.
Now, the state auditors have seven months to complete the audit and report back with their findings.