California home care providers this week showed that when you stand together with allies and the people you care for, you can achieve great things.
The state legislature passed a budget on Sunday that for the first time will allow home care providers employed through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS) to receive overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget would have prohibited providers from working more than 40 hours each week so that the state wouldn’t have to pay overtime. It would have forced thousands of people who receive IHSS care to bring in a secondary caregiver when their primary provider had exceeded 40 hours on the job. For parents who take care of their disabled children around the clock, it would have meant a major disruption in the continuity of care.
But home care providers and allies, including members of United Domestic Workers (UDW) / AFSCME Local 3930, spent the past six months making phone calls, sharing their stories, and talking to their representatives in Sacramento. Their hard work paid off with the revised budget passed this week.
“This is a victory for caregivers and UDW,” says Mary Burch, a home care provider who lives in Stanislaus County. “If the governor’s plan had gone through, I would have lost my home and my daughter Christy would have been sent to a group home.”
While the threat to provider hours has been defeated, caregivers still have work ahead. The new budget does not reverse a 7 percent cut to IHSS hours, which was implemented during the depths of the economic crisis, even though the state now has a multibillion-dollar surplus.
“Unfortunately, this budget still retains deep cuts made during our state’s darkest economic times to every single recipient’s hours of care regardless of their need. For caregivers, ending these crisis cuts has been an equal priority throughout this year, and we don’t consider our budget work to be finished until these hours of care are restored,” says Doug Moore, Executive Director of UDW and an AFSCME International Vice President.
UDW is mobilizing to restore care for home care clients, and is working to ensure that home care providers receive overtime pay on schedule in January 2015. You can help by urging the Department of Labor not to delay fair overtime pay for caregivers.