UDW caregivers and caregivers from SEIU 2015 were in Los Angeles yesterday to demand answers and action from the state. During a Senate Human Services oversight hearing at City Hall, we voiced our concerns and frustrations with the current outdated and cumbersome IHSS payroll system. Home care providers and recipients made the case for fixing the process once and for all.
“Inconsistency is the problem,” testified Claire Kaufman, an IHSS provider for her daughter in El Dorado County. “Not knowing how much I will be paid next time I send in a timesheet, or if I will be paid at all is the problem.”
This year, the State announced an electronic timesheet option would be offered in 2017. While this is a great step in the right direction, it was critical that we demand reforms to the paper timesheet process during the hearing.
Cynthia Wilson, an IHSS provider from Madera County, was evicted from her home in January because she didn’t receive a paycheck from October to December of last year. Cynthia and her 14-year-old grandson were forced to sleep in her car while she worked to afford and find a new apartment with an eviction on her record.
“I was finally able to save up enough to rent a house for me and my grandson,” said Cynthia during her testimony. “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.”
Unfortunately, Cynthia’s story is not unique. Too many IHSS providers have felt the negative impact of waiting for a delayed paycheck or timesheet. Many of us know what it’s like to get behind on our bills or have to pay late fees, because our checks arrive days, weeks, or months later than expected.
Lizet Ibarra and her mother work as providers for Lizet’s younger sister in Orange County. Lizet attended the hearing to advocate for her mom who stayed home to care for her sister. “For the past year and a half my mom’s checks have been delayed 15 to 20 days,” said Lizet. “That puts my mom in a hardship with her HOA fees, late charge fees, and mortgage fees. In the past two months she has not received one check. This is what gets me more agitated.”
Senator Mike McGuire, Senator Connie Leyva, and Senator Richard Roth listened to our stories, and then questioned representatives from the Department of Social Services about the current payroll process. “Making sure people are paid for the work that they do is fundamental,” said Senator Leyva.
Senator McGuire was concerned about the amount of providers who deal with paycheck delays each month. “No private employer would be allowed to delay pay for employees,” he said. “The state can’t be delaying checks to 14,000 IHSS providers.”
Our union is committed to working with the State to update the payroll process. “The payroll system for IHSS providers is rife with problems and unacceptable in its current state,” said UDW Legislative Director Kristina Bas Hamilton. “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.”
Among our suggestions were switching from semimonthly to biweekly pay periods, and allowing providers to download our timesheets to cut down on the time spent waiting for them to arrive via mail.
During her testimony, Claire Kaufman who has experienced late or incorrect paychecks three times in the last year, aptly summed up the importance of fixing the payroll system. “We work hard for our clients,” she said. “Like any other workers, we need timely and correct paychecks. Our families can’t afford anything less, and we don’t deserve anything less.”
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.
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.