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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.

Fight for Our Health Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 20, 2016

CONTACT:   Mike Roth, 916.444.7170; Maria Elena Jauregui, 818.355.5291 (Spanish-language)

Bakersfield, CA –  Today, Congressional Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’s Central Valley District became Ground Zero in a massive effort to fight back against Trump and GOP proposals that would strip 30 million Americans of health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and create chaos in the health care system we all count on.

“As a constituent of Congressman McCarthy, I am here to tell him we can’t go back to being uninsured,” said Carmen Morales-Board, a nurse practitioner who has worked at Kern Medical for 24-1/2 years and is an active member of SEIU’s statewide Nurse Alliance. “It means that my patients will have to go without their prescriptions to give their kids lunch money.  Republicans promised to replace Obamacare, but they have no plan – meanwhile our patients’ lives are hanging in the balance.”

Over 100 of Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s constituents who stand to lose health coverage under a Trump Administration and GOP Congress rallied outside his office to deliver a “Prescription for a Healthy New Year” that includes strengthening the ACA to protect the five million Californians who have health coverage under the landmark health care law. Last month, McCarthy told reporters he supports repealing the ACA with no replacement plan in place for the millions who would lose coverage, breaking with years of GOP claims to “repeal AND replace” the ACA.

McCarthy’s district includes portions of Tulare and Kern counties, which have the greatest proportion of residents insured by Medi-Cal in the state. McCarthy’s leadership position and the striking number of his own constituents who would lose healthcare under President-elect Trump and GOP Congressional Republicans have made Bakersfield Ground Zero in the fight to protect healthcare for millions of Americans.

Over the last 8 years, California has done more to expand health care access, expanding care to more than five million people in our state. Now, the progress that we have made is at risk under a Trump administration and GOP Congress:

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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, UWUA 246, 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, NOVEMBER 9, 2016

Statement by UDW Executive Director Doug Moore in response to the 2016 election results:

“The election has come to an end, and the results are impacting voters differently throughout the country. While some are excited that their candidate was elected, others are left angry or confused. It’s important now to remember that we can be sad, we can be mad, but we cannot be deterred.

To everyone that knocked on doors, phone banked, and exercised their right to vote for their candidate – thank you.

This is a democracy, and we must hold our leaders accountable. We must work together to ensure that the President, as well as leaders in the House and Senate work for all Americans, including people of color, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, caregivers, seniors, and people with disabilities. No matter who you voted for, it’s time for the negative rhetoric to stop, and for us to regroup and come together. This election cycle was divisive, but going forward UDW caregivers will continue to unite not behind our politics, but our shared goal of protecting and strengthening the home care program and our communities.”

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United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a homecare 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 hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.

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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.

UDW caregiver Cynthia Wilson from Madera County testified at the hearing

UDW caregiver Cynthia Wilson from Madera County testified at 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.”

IHSS provider Lizet Ibarra attended the hearing to advocate for her mother who is also a provider

IHSS provider Lizet Ibarra attended the hearing to advocate for her mother who is also a provider

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.”

UDW will provide updates on our continued work to improve the IHSS payroll system on www.udwa.org and the UDW Facebook page – www.facebook.com/UDW.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2016

Contacts: Margitte Kristjansson, 619-548-4304 (English) | Melissa Uribe, 213-590-9091 (English / Spanish)

Home care workers testified at Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing in Los Angeles today, in effort to seek changes to the State Payroll Processing System

Los Angeles, CA – In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers and allies from throughout the state testified today at the Senate Human Services Oversight Hearing regarding continued issues with the state payroll and timesheet processing system, which have resulted in late paychecks and delayed timesheets for caregivers.

With the state’s population rapidly aging, the demand for home care providers continues to grow. According to the California Public Policy Institute, California’s senior population – those 65 and older – will nearly double in the next 15 years. Yet despite the importance and need for this work, the over 460,000 home care workers who provide services through California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) are all too often paid late or incorrectly.

“This year, I was evicted from my home along with my grandson, because of late IHSS timesheets and paychecks,” said Cynthia Wilson, IHSS provider and UDW member from Madera County. “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.”

“For the last two months, I’ve basically been working for free. My rent is a month past due and I can barely afford to make my car payment” said Magdalena Alvarado, IHSS provider and SEIU Local 2015 member from Los Angeles County. “For the last two months, I’ve simply been asked to wait while my situation is sorted out. Well, while I wait my care recipient still needs to be taken to her doctor appointments, fed, and bathed.”

“The payroll system for IHSS providers is rife with problems and unacceptable in its current state,” said UDW’s Legislative Director, Kristina Bas Hamilton. “Today 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.”

Some of the proposed fixes include a switch to biweekly pay periods (instead of semimonthly) to make it easier for workers to comply with new overtime rules, as well as allowing workers to download their timesheets to reduce the time they have to wait to receive them via mail.

 View member testimonies here.

 Follow the conversation: @SEIU2015 @UDWA #PayUsOnTime

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About UDW; 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.

About SEIU Local 2015: With representational responsibility for over 325,000 home care and nursing home workers, SEIU Local 2015 is the biggest long term care union in California. It is our mission to unleash the collective power of long term care workers, their families, and their communities, harness the power of technology, and build a broad movement to disrupt the unjust status quo in order to bring lasting transformational change towards a more just society for all.

November is Provider Appreciation Month, and this year UDW is thanking caregivers for everything we do. UDW caregivers are not only home care providers for our clients, but we’re strong advocates for seniors, people with disabilities, and our families.

Our work is high stress, but it’s also high reward. We are professional home care workers who spend our days looking after the health and safety of our clients. We are there day after day with quality in-home care to make sure they are happy and able to remain in their homes.

But UDW caregivers go above and beyond. Not only do we care for our clients, but we work together and win victories that have a positive impact on their lives. And we don’t just advocate for home care recipients, we stand up for our fellow IHSS providers and our families as well.

Last year, we helped secure overtime pay for IHSS providers, and this year thousands of us have benefited from that hard fought battle. In 2016, we also worked together and won an extended restoration of our IHSS clients’ hours of care – ending the harmful 7% cut for three more years. In April, we helped win a path to a $15 an hour minimum wage and paid sick days for IHSS providers. And we started our work to help providers who care for their child or spouse win Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment pay – basic benefits these family caregivers are currently denied. We’ve proved time and time again that UDW caregivers are stronger together. (Read more about our victories here.)

We’ve faced home care threats, but united we’ve come out stronger than ever. That’s why this month, UDW doesn’t just want to thank caregivers for the work we do as home care providers – but also the work we do to protect and strengthen the home care program.

Check out a Provider Appreciation Month event in your area. And once again, thank you, Caregivers!

Riverside County – November 3rd – 10am to 3pm – RSVP: 866-417-7300

El Dorado County – November 3rd – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837

Butte County – November 4th – 12pm to 2pm – RSVP: 530-894-2702

Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties – November 5th – 12pm to 3pm – RSVP: 877-369-6505

Stanislaus County – November 10th – 11am to 2pm –RSVP: 866-307-7271

Nevada County – November 10th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837

Kern County – November 12th – 12pm to 3pm – RSVP: 800-851-7272

San Diego County – November 15th – 3pm to 7pm – RSVP: 800-621-5016

Madera County – November 15th – 11am to 2pm – RSVP: 559-395-4772

Merced County – November 17th – 11am to 2pm – RSVP: 866-255-7313

Sutter County – November 17th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837

Imperial County – November 17th – 3:30pm to 7:30pm – RSVP: 760-425-4034

Orange County – November 18th – 11am to 4pm – RSVP: 877-483-9937

Riverside County – November 18th – 10am to 3pm – 866-417-7300

Placer County – December 8th – 6pm to 8pm – RSVP: 888-228-0837

aurora

My name is Aurora Viramontes Rivera, and I work as a home care provider for two of my children in Orange County, California. I am overjoyed and grateful that home care workers are now eligible for overtime pay. For my family, the added income has drastically improved our quality of life.

I’ve always been appreciative that the In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) gives me the opportunity to provide my children with the best care possible. I’m not just their mother. I’m the caregiving professional who knows their conditions and their needs best.

Unfortunately, while I love my work, it hasn’t always been easy. Both Atzel and Alix live with disabilities, but when Atzel was initially given fewer hours of in-home care a month than his condition requires, it impacted our entire family. Thankfully my union, the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW), was able to help us secure 200 additional hours of care for Atzel by helping me successfully appeal the original assessment.

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The extra home care hours ensure that no matter who his caregiver is, Atzel will always have the amount of care he needs. Since I am Atzel’s current caregiver, it also translates into real dollars for our family.
The changes for our family didn’t stop at extra hours. When I found out home care providers were finally going to be paid fairly for all the hours we work, I couldn’t believe it. As a professional caregiver, I know how tough our work is, but to know that our elected leaders were finally acknowledging that was great. Overtime pay for home care providers means that caregivers are receiving basic rights that most Americans probably take for granted.

My family sure hasn’t taken it for granted. I have far fewer sleepless nights. The extra money overtime provided allowed my husband and I to move our family of six out of our tiny apartment and into a roomier three-bedroom house. My kids are happier, and I have more peace of mind as I watch them play in our backyard. We also bought a more reliable car, which we use to transport our children to their doctors’ appointments.

Overtime pay means I can actually save money, and my family’s goal is to save enough to purchase our own home. For me, overtime pay isn’t about giving home care providers extra, it’s about giving us the pay we’ve worked for, that we need and our families deserve.

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My name is Toni Monique Taloa, and I’m a home care provider in Buena Park, California. I initially became a professional home care worker to take care of my elderly grandmother. My grandmother was originally assessed just 80 hours of in-home care each month – far less than she needed – by California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care program. My union, the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW), helped me successfully appeal the decision, and my grandmother’s home care hours were increased from 80 to 283 per month.

As a person who honestly did not believe in the power of being a union member, this help was just what was needed to change my mind. After that I wanted to know what else the collective power of home care workers could accomplish, so I became a UDW volunteer. As a more involved member, I would eventually become one of the many home care providers in California who fought for fair implementation of our overtime benefits.

My grandmother has since passed away, but I’ve been responsible for my sister Tonya’s care since 2012. When Tonya was born, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, also known as water on the brain, which caused cerebral palsy. When I learned my sister had been moved into a nursing home, I took her out and moved her into my home. I knew my sister would get the best possible care among family with me working as her caregiver.

Unfortunately, despite the vital, cost saving nature of our profession, working as a home care provider has been rough on my budget. There have been many times when I wasn’t really living, I was just surviving. And it’s not just me who is affected: my sister Tonya depends on me to provide for her needs as well, including food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and medication.

That’s why I got involved with my fellow UDW home care workers in our fight to win overtime pay. I knew we were excluded, but I never knew why. I was excited when in 2011, President Obama announced in-home caregivers would soon receive basic labor protections like overtime. And I joined my fellow caregivers in celebration when the U.S. Department of Labor amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to include home care workers after decades of unfair exclusion.

After the announcement at the federal level, we fought hard, wading through challenges in the courts and from our own governor. When overtime was finally implemented here in California for IHSS home care providers, it changed not only my life, but Tonya’s as well.

Now that I have overtime pay, I’ve been able to comfortably provide Tonya with the food her condition requires her to have. I’m able to pay our rent, and no longer live with the fear that we could be evicted from our home, forcing me into a shelter and Tonya back into a nursing home. Overall, overtime pay was crucial to ensuring Tonya and I are able to remain in our home. And the extra money overtime provides gave me something I think is priceless: time. Tonya has a second home care provider who comes in 20 hours per month to give me a break – something we would not have been able to afford in the past.

maria cota

My name is Maria Cota, and I’ve been an IHSS caregiver since 1993.

In 2013, I had a stroke and the recovery made it difficult for me to keep working as a home care provider. Once I was back on my feet and ready to get back to work, the UDW Match program helped me find a new home care client. Now, I’m working again and I don’t have to worry about how I will pay my bills and support myself.

UDW Match is one of our members-only benefits. It is a totally free home care referral service that connects home care providers with seniors and people with disabilities who need our care.

I’ve been a home care provider for 25 years, and an IHSS provider for 23 years. It is the work I know best, and the job I love. Before my current client, I worked for a woman with leukemia. But while caring for her I also had health issues of my own, which culminated in a stroke in December 2013.

I spent four weeks in the hospital, and went through at-home therapy for an additional four weeks after I was released. I had to learn basic tasks and knowledge, like my colors and how to make purchases in a store, all over again. It was a rough road, and it took about a year, but I got through it.

I heard about UDW Match at one of our San Diego County membership meetings. I needed a new client so I asked for more information. The process was pretty simple: I completed a caregiver enrollment form, and UDW Match began the work of pairing me with a client looking for care. The program matched me to a client based on her unique care needs, and ensured our compatibility. From start to finish, the process took less than three weeks.

My matched client is Estela. She lives with asthma, nerve problems, and arthritis. Estela was so happy with my care that she asked me to care for her 44-year-old son who lives with schizophrenia as well.

Our work isn’t high paying, and turnover of clients can happen frequently. I recommend UDW Match to any UDW caregiver in need of a new or additional client. Knowing this is one of the benefits of being a UDW member has really made me love our union. I feel like UDW is member-driven and member focused, and wants the best for us all.

Maria Cota is a home care provider and UDW member in San Diego County.

UDW Match is currently servicing San Diego County only. The goal is to expand the program to other counties soon.

UDW Press Conference-131

“It makes you feel like a second-class citizen,” said Claire Kaufman, an IHSS provider for her daughter, Katie, who lives with autism in El Dorado County.

Claire was reacting to Governor Brown’s decision today to veto Assembly Bill 1930. Like nearly 86,000 other parent and spouse providers, Claire was hoping the governor would do the right thing and put providers on a path to securing Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment pay—basic safety net benefits that IHSS providers who care for their child or spouse are currently excluded from.

This year our union UDW sponsored AB 1930, and caregivers shared our stories with legislators at the Capitol, signed petitions, and called our elected leaders, urging them to stand with us on this vital issue. Our hard work paid off: the bill received unprecedented bipartisan support and was passed unanimously by both the State Assembly and the Senate. Once it got to the governor’s desk, we made one last push to get it passed when we delivered petitions signed by thousands of Californians urging the governor to sign the bill.

UDW caregiver Claire Kaufman with her daughters

UDW caregiver Claire Kaufman with her daughters

But today Governor Brown vetoed AB 1930 in spite of our efforts, leaving tens of thousands of spouse and parent caregivers worrying about whether we will ever be able to retire without the supplemental benefit of Social Security. And without unemployment pay, many of us will continue to wonder what would happen to our families if our client passes away.

These problems may sound far off or abstract to some, including the governor, but to home care providers, they are very real.

“Like many home care recipients, a lot of our family members are medically fragile,” said Claire. “I have a six-year-old daughter at home as well. If something happened to Katie, my youngest daughter and I would have to rely on public assistance because I don’t qualify for unemployment.”

Cathyleen Williams from Barstow worked as her son Caleb's IHSS provider until he passed this year

Cathyleen Williams from Barstow worked as her son Caleb’s IHSS provider until he passed this year

Cathyleen Williams from San Bernardino County knows that nightmare firsthand. Her son Caleb passed away this year. When he passed, she not only lost her most precious loved one, but her entire income as well. Cathyleen applied for unemployment benefits because she’d worked as her son’s IHSS provider for nine years. She was shocked when she was denied, all because her IHSS client was her son.

Cathyleen shared her story when she joined UDW caregivers at the Capitol in Sacramento to deliver our petitions urging the governor to sign AB 1930. “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 you don’t end up homeless? I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on my greatest enemy.”

And it is a nightmare. It’s also a source of frustration and confusion for home care providers who know our work is worthy of the same respect and benefits as all other work.

“I’m a single mom who works as a full-time caregiver,” said Jesse Torres from San Diego County. “I take my job seriously. I’ve completed trainings and received certifications to make sure I provide my daughter the best care she can get.”

Jesse’s 12-year-old daughter Cessia lives with Rett syndrome, which causes physical and mental disabilities. To manage Cessia’s condition, Jesse has worked as her full-time IHSS provider for 10 years. “Why am I not eligible for the same benefits as any other mother who goes to her job every day?” Jesse asked. “I could put my daughter in a medical facility or a nursing home that would cost the state more money, and the caregivers there would do the same work but they would get these benefits.”

Despite the governor’s decision today, UDW will continue to make winning Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment pay for spouse and parent providers a top priority. “All home care providers are workers who deserve dignity and respect,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore. “Spouse and parent home care providers have worked long enough without access to these basic benefits.”

UDW will keep you updated on our continued work to win Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits for spouse and parent caregivers via our website – www.udwa.org – and our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/UDW.

Ana Fierro, family child care provider from Modesto.

Ana Fierro, family child care provider from Modesto.

My name is Ana Fierro, and I’m a family child care provider in Modesto. My mother-in-law’s influence iswhat convinced me to open my own daycare, and 12 years later I’m still going strong. I love caring for children, and I love my work.

Unfortunately, as most of you can attest, being a family child care provider is not without its problems. For me personally, one the biggest issues I face is late payments. It’s frustrating not knowing when I will be paid, and has all too often made it tough for me to stay on top of my own household bills.

That’s why I’ve gotten involved with Child Care Providers United of California (CCPU/UDW). A few weeks ago I went to a CCPU meeting at the UDW office in Modesto – one of our 13 offices in California. We talked about the state’s increasing minimum wage, and how it will affect providers. I learned that a lot of providers share the same worries about paying their assistants the new minimum wage.

Then I learned that UDW family child care providers worked to offset that increased cost, by winning subsidy rate increases in next year’s state budget. That means that for many of us, as the expense of paying daycare assistants a higher wage increases, so will our income as providers. And providers around the state in San Diego, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Contra Costa, Orange, Ventura, and right here in Modesto also deal with late payments through the Alternative Payment program.

It felt good to not only discuss these problems during the meeting, but also brainstorm possible solutions. I know that the only way to tackle the issues facing our daycare is to unite as providers, and continue to build power together.

Attending the CCPU meeting at UDW made me feel stronger and more excited, and I want to continue to build our strength. I encourage my fellow family child care providers to get involved. Attend the next meeting in October, and click here to complete our survey and let CCPU know the issues facing your daycare!

Ana Fierro is a family child care provider in Modesto, California.

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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.

UDW caregiver William Reed from Placer County

UDW caregiver William Reed from Placer County

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

UDW caregiver Darlene Nelson from San Diego County

UDW caregiver Darlene Nelson from San Diego County

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.

UDW Press Conference-105

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.”

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Susana Saldana from Merced works as her son’s IHSS caregiver

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.”

Cathyleen Williams from Barstow worked as her son Caleb's IHSS provider until he passed this year

Cathyleen Williams from Barstow worked as her son Caleb’s IHSS provider until he passed this year

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.

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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.

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UDW caregivers stood alongside thousands of public service workers to declare we will NEVER QUIT at AFSCME’s 42nd International Convention last week in Las Vegas. “It truly was a learning experience,” said Susana Saldana, an IHSS provider for her son and first time convention delegate from Merced County. “I enjoyed meeting people from all over the country and learning best practices from fellow union members.”

UDW is a California affiliate of the national union AFSCME, and including UDW’s over 94,000 home care providers, AFSCME represents 1.6 million workers around the country. AFSCME members are public servants who work as nurses, 911 dispatchers, law enforcement officers, child care providers, sanitation workers, home care providers, and more. What we have in common is a commitment to protecting public programs like IHSS, and to winning social and economic justice for working families.

At the same time, membership in a powerful national union helps us protect IHSS. While we fight back against threats to the program here in California, AFSCME is able to help us protect home care in Washington D.C., where many decisions are made that impact funding for IHSS.

Every two years, UDW members serve as delegates to AFSCME’s International Convention. At convention, we vote in support or opposition to resolutions that set the union’s agenda and priorities.

UDW delegates including LaTanya Cline (middle) from San Diego and UDW President Editha Adams (right)

UDW delegates including LaTanya Cline (middle) from San Diego and UDW President Editha Adams (right)

This year, we stood in favor of a resolution to demand stronger long term care services and supports for Americans who rely on services like in-home care. And we gave strong support to resolutions demanding an increase in the minimum wage. “No one who works full-time should have to go home and struggle to provide for their families,” said UDW delegate and IHSS provider LaTanya Cline from San Diego County, in regards to the resolution.

UDW caregiver Nicanora Montenegro, an IHSS provider from San Diego, asked convention delegates to stand in support of a resolution on protecting the right to vote. “Our country has changed, but we have a long way to go,” said Nicanora. “Our vote is our voice…voting rights of people of color in particular must be protected and expanded.”

Many of us addressed the entire delegation to talk about our latest victories here in California. Placer County Chair William Reed spoke about our recent overtime pay win. “This victory was only possible because we stood together and we did not quit,” said William. “And we will keep fighting until home care workers all over the country have the same rights and benefits as all workers.”

Convention is also the time that we elect the leaders who will represent UDW as AFSCME International Vice Presidents. This year, the delegation reelected UDW Executive Director Doug Moore and Johanna Hester to these positions. During the nomination process, we thanked Doug and Johanna for their leadership through some of our union’s biggest fights, including ending cuts to the IHSS program and growing our union despite threats like the Harris vs. Quinn Supreme Court decision.

But convention wasn’t only about resolutions and elections, we also took action! Thousands of us marched in solidarity with workers who are trying to form a union at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Despite winning their union election in December, Trump International has refused to begin contract negotiations and has fired and intimidated workers who are union supporters. After our march in the hot Las Vegas sun, it was announced that a settlement had been reached to pay two workers $11,200 in lost wages.

Orange County IHSS provider Luz Cedeno at the rally with thousands of workers outside Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

Orange County IHSS provider Luz Cedeno at the rally with thousands of workers outside Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

“This was epic,” said San Diego IHSS provider and first time convention delegate Noreen Woods. “To see solidarity at its finest was awesome. Thousands of AFSCME brothers and sisters showed up to support the hotel workers, and hearing that a settlement was reached showed me that we are being heard. We can’t stop fighting. Yesterday was a show of the power we’ve built through our union.”

For more photos from the AFSCME 2016 convention, click here.

Statement by UDW Executive Director Doug Moore in response to the 2016-17 California state budget:

Today we celebrate another hard-won victory for California home care providers and recipients. The state budget, signed into law by Governor Brown yesterday, is a testament to the work of the UDW caregivers who have advocated for years to protect the home care program in California. These providers have worked tirelessly to demand dignity for their profession, and respect for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on their care.

The budget fully funds the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program for the next three years, which means IHSS clients will receive all of the necessary hours of care that have been assessed by social workers. Last year, these hours were restored for a one-year period after being cut for the previous four years.

While UDW is thankful to our elected leaders for taking action in this budget, our work is not done.

We will remain diligent in our work to restore IHSS hours permanently, because Californians who rely on care need more than a temporary fix. In-home care allows some of our most vulnerable neighbors and loved ones to remain healthy and safe in their homes. A permanent end to IHSS cuts is necessary to ensure people who need home care services no longer live in fear that their care will be cut or taken away from them.

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United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a homecare 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 hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.

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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.

IHSS provider Cynthia Wilson from Madera County

IHSS provider Cynthia Wilson from Madera County

“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.”

IHSS provider Kady Crick from Riverside County

IHSS provider Kady Crick from Riverside County

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.

Look out for more updates on SB 1234’s progress on www.udwa.org and www.facebook.com/UDW.

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/.

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My husband David’s meningitis caused paralysis on the left side of his body and several neurological problems. For a while I was able to continue working my full-time job, and pay into important programs like Social Security and Medicare. But as David’s condition worsened, I had to start reevaluating what was best for our family. David became reliant on a wheelchair seven years ago, and that’s when I knew it was time to change jobs. I left my old job, and became my husband’s full-time home care provider.

When I found out that I was no longer able to pay into Social Security and Medicare, I became really stressed. I hope I worked enough years in other jobs to qualify for some Social Security, but I’m not sure.

I don’t understand how I can work full time, but be denied basic benefits. I can’t and shouldn’t have to leave my current job as my husband’s home care provider just to become eligible for programs other workers qualify for automatically.

Reyna Tellez is an IHSS provider for her husband David in Imperial County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.

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When my daughter Delaina was in second grade, an undiagnosed tumor in her brain hemorrhaged and left her with brain damage. Now, Delaina is 22 years old, and I work as her home care provider. She can understand me, but has behavior issues. Delaina can do basic math and write her name, but it’s hard for her to learn more. She’s also lost her ability to walk or feed herself.

We live month to month, because I don’t make much as Delaina’s full-time home care provider. And if something were to happen to IHSS and I lost my job as her provider, I wouldn’t even qualify for unemployment. In the time it could take me to find a new job, I could lose my home, my car – everything.

I’m 45 now, but I’m concerned about what will happen to me when I get older. Being told I’m not eligible to pay into FICA makes me feel like the quality in-home care I provide isn’t considered real work.

Christine Baur is an IHSS provider for her daughter Delaina in Kern County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.

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My husband Leon is 69 years old and lives with COPD and cirrhosis of the liver. My full-time job since 2000 has been providing him with in-home care, so he can remain in our home where he is happiest and healthiest. I’ve been a home care provider for 16 years, and for 16 years I’ve worried about what would happen if an unexpected tragedy struck my family. One of my biggest fears is my husband passing away. I would be grief stricken, and because I don’t qualify for unemployment, I would also have no financial safety net while I searched for another job.

As I approach my 60s, I’m not able to prepare to retire in the next few years like most people. Instead, I’m constantly worried. I’m worried about how we’re going to live if I’m ever unable to care for Leon. Without the safety net of Social Security, I would no longer be able to contribute to our household expenses. Spouse and parent providers aren’t asking for extra. We just want our work to be treated fairly and with the same dignity and respect other workers receive.

Bernadette Evans is an IHSS provider for her husband Leon in Riverside County. Read more about our fight to win Social Security and Medicare for spouse and parent providers here.

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After decades of exclusion from Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections, home care providers won overtime pay for the first time in history last year. And on February 1st, FLSA benefits began for eligible IHSS providers. Now, many of us are eligible to receive overtime, travel time, and medical wait time pay – great benefits for caregivers and our families. UDW caregivers fought hard to secure these new benefits, and now we’re working to make sure they are implemented fairly.

Throughout the year, UDW members have lobbied and testified to lawmakers at the Capitol about the new program rules, and urged them to ensure they are helpful rather than harmful to providers and our clients. “We fought long and hard for overtime,” UDW member Nelson Retuya from Placer County told lawmakers. “Let’s make sure it works for home care workers and recipients.”

Our goal this year is to urge lawmakers to employ several changes to the new IHSS program rules. The changes will ensure that caregivers are treated fairly, and our home care clients receive care without harmful interruptions.

We’ve asked the legislature to adopt four actions in the Governor’s 2016-17 budget for IHSS:

  1. Extend the grace period for program violations to September 1st.

IHSS program violations are consequences for submitting your IHSS timesheet with hours that exceed overtime or travel time limits. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) originally announced violations would begin on May 1st. Providers who receive multiple violations risk being terminated from working for the IHSS program. UDW has asked lawmakers to extend the start date to September 1st to give the state time to thoroughly implement all necessary policy changes, and to give providers and clients time to fully understand the new rules, so we can avoid receiving violations.

  1. Ensure eligible IHSS providers and recipients have access to overtime rule exemptions.

CDSS should notify eligible IHSS providers about exemptions for which we qualify, and create an appeals process for providers who believe they were incorrectly denied an exemption. Exemptions are important because they ensure that high-need clients or clients with special circumstances can continue to receive all the hours of care they rely on from their home care providers. Read more about exemptions here: http://www.udwa.org/2016/04/exemptions-to-timesheet-weekly-work-limits.

  1. Ensure providers do not receive inaccurate violations.

Right now, counties have a five-day review process before they issue an IHSS provider a violation. Counties should have no less than 10 days to review potential violations in order to cut down on the number of providers who receive invalid violations. Remember, violations include penalties that increase in severity all the way up to a one-year termination from the program. This means it is imperative that providers do not receive violations for no reason.

  1. Create an easy to understand workweek limit.

Right now, workweek limits are determined by the number of IHSS clients a provider has, which means providers have different caps on our workweek hours. In order to reduce confusion, UDW caregivers have asked for a 70 hour and 45 minute workweek limit for all providers (with the exception of providers who have received an exemption allowing them to work up to 90 hours per week).

UDW will keep members updated on our work to improve the implementation of our new benefits as the state budget process continues.

Remember, we can familiarize ourselves with the current overtime, travel time, and medical wait time rules by visiting www.udwa.org/timesheets.