Fight for Our Health Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2017
CONTACT: Crystal Young, 619.806.4677, Mike Roth, 916.444.7170, Maria Elena Jauregui, 818.355.5291 (Spanish-language)
El Cajon, CA – San Diego Area residents can expect to endure thousands of dollars in higher costs, job losses, and chaos in our local health care system if Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) votes with his Republican colleagues to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement. At a candlelight vigil tonight outside Hunter’s office, San Diegans who are insured through the ACA joined seniors and health care professionals to tell stories of the life-threatening harm inflicted on their families and the community if Republicans succeed in repealing health care.
“Because of the ACA, I became eligible for MediCal, and it has helped me tremendously,” said Esther Torbert, a home care provider in San Diego County. “Before I had health insurance, I would avoid going to the doctor, because I couldn’t afford it.
And when my health got bad, I’d end up in the emergency room.”
Republicans in Congress are already preparing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act through the federal budget process, with crucial votes expected as early as Friday. A new poll shows three-quarters of Americans oppose repealing the law or want to see the GOP’s replacement plan before the ACA is rolled back.
Locally, the repeal would mean:
Statewide, five million Californians stand to lose their healthcare and 334,000 jobs could be lost if the ACA were repealed without a replacement. Experts say the GOP’s plans to repeal the law without a replacement would mean chaos for the entire health care system, not just those insured through the ACA.
“Without the Affordable Care Act, I know I could not afford insurance by myself,” Ms. Torbert continued. “Rep. Hunter, you represent us, and we want the same security you enjoy. We want to know that our families will have the health care we need and deserve. Vote to protect or improve the ACA – don’t take away our health care!”
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The Fight for Our Health Coalition includes Health Access, SEIU California, SEIU Local 521, SEIU-UHW, SEIU Local 2015, UFW Foundation, Dolores Huerta Foundation, UDW/ AFSCME Local 3930, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Project Inform, CIR/SEIU, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Community Health Initiative of Kern County, Faith in Action Kern County, California Partnership, Kern, Inyo, and Mono Counties Central Labor Council.
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.