A Milestone in the Union’s Statewide “Time for $20” Campaign, Union Calls on Other California Counties to Raise Wages as Workers Leave Industry.
Alameda County, CA–In response to calls for immediate investments in long-term care workers to put them on the path to a $20 an hour wage floor, the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers of SEIU Local 2015 have reached a tentative agreement on their Union contract with Alameda County. The full provisions of the contract amount to an 18% wage increase over the next three years and makes Alameda only the third County in California to be expected to reach the union’s statewide goal of $20.00 an hour. Alameda care providers will hit $20.00 an hour on January 1, 2025.
The term of the agreement is three years, to be implemented as soon as the tentative agreement is approved by all of the parties. In the coming weeks, union members will hold a ratification vote. The ratified contract will then go to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to adopt and pass on to the State for implementation. The union estimates that the new contract will be in effect by September. Upon contract implementation, wages will move from $16.75/hr to $17.60/hr, and to $18.10 in January 2023, with regular increases reaching $20 per hour on January 1, 2025.
“Look, our members’ struggle isn’t new,” said SEIU Local 2015 Executive Vice President Kim Evon. “When 420,000 long-term care workers walk off the job in two years that tells you something…that tells you this is an industry in crisis. Caregivers are underpaid and underprotected, and COVID made it a lot worse. This agreement is a big win for SEIU 2015 members and their ‘Time for $20’ campaign and signifies a path to victory for long-term care workers across the state, including in Los Angeles County where providers there are currently in contract negotiations. It’s time for $20 for all of California’s essential long-term care workers.”
Care providers like Carmen and Maria shared their struggles to make ends meet as they rallied, called their Supervisors on the County Board, testified and made sure the County understood—as recent polling from SEIU Local 2015 shows—that one in five in-home caregivers are likely to leave their current position in the coming year due to low wages and general concerns related to financial security.
“This is a huge victory for our Time for $20 campaign to increase wages for all long-term care workers, propelled by Union members at bargaining tables across the state working to raise standards in the industry, including improved access to healthcare, professional training, on-the-job safety, and secure retirement.” said SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett. “We’re grateful to the Alameda Board of Supervisors for hearing our call and taking action, following the examples of Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties. This win is monumental and we’re looking forward to seeing other counties across the state, such as Los Angeles, follow suit and finally invest in the essential workers taking care of our communities’ most vulnerable.”
“This was my first time serving on our Bargaining Team—I call it the ‘Dream Team’ because I’m so proud of what we won,” said Cindy Zhang, a home care provider in Oakland. “It was great learning from our team leaders and watching their very superb negotiation skills. It was intense, but we knew we were fighting for the vital interests of Alameda’s 25,000 providers. After this negotiation, I realized more deeply that only by standing together in our union can we win a living wage, better treatment, dignity and secure jobs. I’m so proud of my fellow bargaining team members and all of my sisters and brothers who participated in this contract campaign.”
“I am so proud of our union family,” said Bargaining Team member Tamara Nghishakenwa, a provider in Alameda City. “Our new tentative contract agreement with Alameda County shows the hard work we’ve done in California to make politicians realize the importance of our profession. We spent one and a half years bargaining with the county for our last contract. This time the county took us seriously and we were able to agree on a contract in only three months. I would like to thank the Alameda county board of supervisors for seeing the value in our profession, and respecting our clients by putting real money into homecare.”
Since January 2020, SEIU Local 2015 has worked with counties and nursing homes across the State of California to win more than 85 contracts, securing better pandemic safety, improved wages and benefits, and a voice in the care its members provide.
In addition to the wage increase, other notable wins in this contract include:
- Job Development/ Life Enhancing Funding
- $5,000 fund each fiscal year
- $3,000 Unused funds can roll over to next fiscal year
- Reimbursements for providers up to $250 fiscal year
- Personal Protective Equipment
- A fund of $10,000 per fiscal year will be established for PPE, including gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer, starting July 1 2022 when the state will no longer be providing it. Up to $5,000 in unused funds can roll over to next FY.
- Paid time for Contract Negotiations
- Up to 8 providers who participate as part of the Union Bargaining committee will be compensated by the Public Authority up to 8 hours per bargaining session.
- Other improvements
- Waiver Protective Care Services workers are now included in the agreement.
- No Discrimination language was expanded to protect additional workers
Over the last two years, SEIU Local 2015 members across California have put their fight to improve the long-term care industry into high gear. In 2022, SEIU Local 2015 members have held three state-wide days of action, demonstrating at long-term care facilities across California to highlight the staffing crisis, show support for improved conditions, and to put pressure on those with the power to make the necessary change. This past March, SEIU Local 2015 proposed a statewide Quality Standards Board to oversee California’s troubled nursing home industry.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.