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!
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.
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.
California prisons are overcrowded and use massive amounts of taxpayer dollars. In fact, as a state, we spend almost 10% of our general fund on prisons. Locking away all offenders and throwing away the key is not always the best way to keep our communities safe. Focusing on rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders can reduce prisoner reentry, and allow those who have served their time to reintegrate into their communities safely and productively.
Governor Brown took a step in the right direction this year when he introduced The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. The goals of the act are to invest in public safety, save taxpayer dollars, focus on rehabilitation, and keep dangerous offenders in prison.
In March, UDW members began gathering petition signatures to ensure The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 made it to the November ballot where Californians would be able to decide whether or not to adopt it.
UDW caregiver Mercedes Chapman from San Diego decided to help collect signatures because of the impact the act would have on the children in her community.
“It makes me think about my 16-year-old brother,” she said. “I shudder at the thought of someone younger than him being tried as an adult and being placed in a prison with adults. I’d rather give them a chance at rehabilitation to stop a potentially destructive cycle.”
The act would mandate that judges rather than prosecutors decide whether children are tried as adults, and would require the judge to take a careful look at the child’s alleged crime and life before deciding whether they should be charged as an adult.
The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 is aimed at keeping the communities where caregivers and our loved ones live and work safer. “It’s a very important issue,” explained Mercedes. “We’re talking about our communities. It’s our kids and our families that will be affected.”