Workers Rights

California Caregivers: Attempt to Threaten Quality and Success of In-Home Care Will Not Succeed Here

In Wake of Harris v. Quinn, Caregivers And Allies Vow to Re-Double Their Efforts to Stand Up For California’s Seniors And People With Disabilities

Sacramento, CA – In the wake of today’s Harris v. Quinn decision regarding Illinois home care workers, in-home caregivers and allies here pledged to protect California’s successful home care program for hundreds of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities.

“Let there be no mistake,” said Gary Passmore, Vice President of the Congress of California Seniors. “Caregivers have led the way in creating and protecting a system of in-home care that is a lifesaver for hundreds of thousands of Californians. An engaged and empowered caregiving workforce is the chief reason for California’s successful model of in-home care, and seniors and people with disabilities won’t let outsiders undermine what we have built here in California.”

Harris v. Quinn was pressed by the anti-worker National Right to Work Foundation, funded in part by the Koch brothers and the Walton family, and is another in a long line of attempts to undermine workers’ freedom to come together in a union. Caregivers in California are committed to preserving the progress they have made together.

“Billionaires like the Koch brothers fund legal attacks on workers, but in reality these are attacks on the people we care for,” said Tonya York, a caregiver from San Jose who takes care of her sister Andrea.

California’s In-Home Supportive Services program serves more than 450,000 people in California. It saves the state billions by allowing seniors and the disabled to live safely in their homes instead of far more costly nursing homes, hospitals or other more restrictive settings.

Over the last 15 years, hundreds of thousands of caregivers have joined together in unions, and in so doing have stabilized and professionalized a vital state program that was once characterized by high turnover, quality care problems, and extremely low wages.

“This is an area of healthcare where the union has changed everything,” said Editha Adams, a home care worker in San Diego County. “The union has helped unite caregivers and consumers, which has enabled us to raise the quality of care, dramatically lower turnover, and help many more people stay in their homes.”

“We stand with caregivers in Illinois. But here in California, today’s decision only strengthens our resolve to stand together and keep improving and protecting home care,” said Brenda Jackson, a caregiver from Alameda County.

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Assembly Budget Panel Stands Up for Seniors and People with Disabilities, Rejects Deep IHSS Cut

Caregivers Gear Up for Campaign to Strengthen Home Care

Sacramento, CA – Caregivers who provide the critical services that enable more than 400,000 Californians to live safely in their own homes praised an Assembly panel’s decision to stand up for seniors and people with disabilities by rejecting a proposed $207 million cut to the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program today.

“Legislators did the right thing by standing with seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers and rejecting these brutal IHSS cuts,” said Richard Jackson, a home care worker from Sacramento. “After listening to our voices and crunching the numbers, there’s no denying that home care is not only the most compassionate way to care for our loved ones, it’s far more cost effective than institutionalization.”

Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health and Human Services, chaired by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, rejected the governor’s proposal to cut services for more than 250,000 seniors and people with disabilities that count on home care to maintain their independence and dignity. The cut to “domestic and related services” would have eliminated help home care consumers receive with activities that are crucial to their health and well-being such as bathing, feeding, laundry, and shopping. With the loss of corresponding federal and county funds factored in, the proposal would have resulted in a devastating $630 million cut to home care.

People with disabilities and their caregivers represented by SEIU, UDW and CUHW testified that cuts proposed for IHSS year after year point to the need for a policy solutions to strengthen and stabilize the state’s home care system and provide better care for California’s aging population.

“It’s dismaying that home care services that support the health and dignity of 400,000 elderly Californians and people with disabilities are put on the chopping block year after year,” said Lisa Davidson an in-home caregiver from Placer County. “Our health care and home care costs won’t be sustainable as our population ages and grapples with chronic disease unless we coordinate and strengthen these systems to support better health outcomes and protect consumers’ choice to stay healthy at home.”

A coalition of caregivers and seniors recently launched the “Let’s Get Healthy at Home” campaign focused on the need to preserve the principle of consumer-directed care, provide access to training and professional development for providers, and to ensure that care is coordinated to better manage chronic conditions and preventive health needs. The result will be a more efficient system that minimizes nursing home stays, emergency room visits and hospitalization.

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Judge issues temporary order against state – potentially stopping $100 million cuts to the In-Home Supportive Services Program

Cuts would impact the care of an estimated 372,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities

OAKLAND, CA – Late yesterday afternoon United States District Court Judge Claudia A. Wilken issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) effective immediately that stops the state from proceeding with a 20 percent cut to the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program until the Court is able to hear the case on December 15, 2011.

The cuts of more than $100 million to the IHSS program are part of the state’s $700 million “trigger cuts” written into the 2011/12 state budget and passed under SB 73. The cuts, which would impact the care of an estimated 372,000 low-income California seniors and people with disabilities, were to be enacted on January 1, 2012, if state revenues didn’t meet projected earnings by mid December.

“Judge Wilken’s Temporary Restraining Order brings a sense of relief to California seniors and people with disabilities,” stated Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “This ruling means that our parents, grandparents, and children with disabilities who rely on the IHSS program to live safely at home will be able to get through the holidays without fear of losing their in-home care and being forced into institutions. It also means that there is a possibility of preventing these dangerous cuts to home care altogether.”

As stated in Judge Wilken’s findings, SB 73 raises serious questions of violations to Title XIX of the Social Security Act, the Medicaid Act, the American Disabilities Act and part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by placing IHSS recipients at imminent risk of unnecessary and unwanted out-of-home placement. (download TRO at: http://ultcw.org/files/2011/12/TRO.pdf)

Although the TRO does not stop the cuts from taking place, it does prevent the state from moving forward with issuing a Notice of Action to IHSS recipients that would announce the IHSS cuts as taking place on January 1, 2012.

“If implemented, these trigger cuts to the IHSS program would place hundreds of thousands of fragile lives in jeopardy,” said Butler. “Every hour of in-home care taken away from our seniors and people with disabilities places them in danger of experiencing falls, breaking bones, not taking their medications, or even worse. We simply can’t balance our states budget on the backs of our most vulnerable residents. The consequences are too great.”

The request for the TRO was filed on December 1, 2011, along with a lawsuit by senior and disability advocates to stop these devastating cuts to vital care from taking place. The Court is scheduled to hear the case on December 15, 2011, at 2:00 pm in Oakland.

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Over 700,000 Californians make up SEIU in California; we work throughout the state, in all 58 counties, and we represent California in all of its diversity. We are social workers, nurses, classroom aides, state workers, security officers, college professors, home care workers, janitors, and more.

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Statement in Response to Veto of AB 101

Sacramento, CA – SEIU California released the following statement by Tonia McMillian, a child care provider from Bellflower, in response to the veto of AB 101.

“We are profoundly devastated by today’s news. Like the foundation of a house, we are the hidden support for California’s economy as it struggles to recover. And the foundation is crumbling. Child care providers – nearly 80,000 throughout California – desperately needed this legislation so that we could improve our lives and the lives of the families we serve.

“Child care providers get up early every day, often before 5:00 am, to do the work that keeps California working. We work late into the night to give moms and dads peace of mind while they are at their jobs. We help children get prepared to succeed in school. And we help children grow up healthy and strong – that’s the part of our work you can’t put a price on.

“Yet the broken system in which we operate threatens our jobs and the well being of families. 5,700 child care providers shut their doors last year, in large part because California’s broken child care system made it impossible for them to stay in business. Payments come late, or are arbitrarily reduced or denied. Meanwhile, mortgage companies don’t want excuses. Fixing this broken system is the reason we’ve come together to ask for a seat at the table and the right to join together with a common voice.

“We will not give up. We’ve been strengthened by the legislative and community support we’ve received. California’s working families are counting on Governor Brown to be the champion we all need. He has learned just how broken the child care system is. We invite him to continue hearing from the child care providers who are living on the edge because California hasn’t listened to their voices. We are asking for a seat at the table and a chance to strengthen the profession we love.”

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SEIU California applauds final passage of California Dream Act

SACRAMENTO, CA — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California released the following statement by State Council President Bill A. Lloyd following the Assembly’s passage of the California Dream Act:

“Today’s passage of the Dream Act marks a victory for young people who led the fight to bring their peers out of the shadows, only to see justice denied by the veto pen of the previous Governor. Today is possible because these outstanding and brave young people led the way, even though it meant risking their own future. They are true leaders.

“Now, California has the chance to open the doors of opportunity to every deserving student regardless of economic background or the path that led them to the Golden State.

“Nurturing the talent and hard work of some of the state’s most outstanding young people will strengthen our economy and our future. With their success as scholars who earned college acceptance against all odds, there is no limit to what they can achieve – and give back to our state. All California has to do is open the door.”

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SEIU California is a coalition of over 700,000 janitors, social workers, security officers, home care workers, school and university employees, healthcare workers, and city, county and state employees represented by SEIU local unions throughout California. We come together to build a better California by fighting to pass policies and elect candidates that benefit working families and advance the issues we care about: affordable healthcare, good wages, retirement security for all, a healthy environment, good schools and universities, and stronger communities. We believe that by working together we can build a California where working families can thrive again.

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Public Workers Call for Boycott

Roger Niello Playing Political Games with Retirement Security

Scores of public employees protested outside the luxury car dealership partly owned by former Assemblymember Roger Niello, who recently filed an initiative for circulation that would unravel the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of California public servants. Workers called for a boycott of Niello Autos. The filing was followed shortly by news that Niello is planning to run for higher office, revealing the opportunistic, political nature of the attack on public workers. Read the press release from Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security (CHCRS), a coalition SEIU California belongs to.

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