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Caregiver Challenges Ventura County Board of Supervisors to Walk a Day in Her Shoes

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Scott Mann

SEIU Local 2015


Miguel Benitez

Caregiver Challenges Ventura County Board of Supervisors to Walk a Day in Her Shoes

SEIU Local 2015

Challenge comes during contract negotiations between SEIU 2015 and the County over IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) worker wages

Ventura, CA – An IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) caregiver from Santa Paula challenged the Ventura County Board of Supervisors to walk a day in her shoes today. She was joined by more than three dozen IHSS workers and their consumers, several of which shared their stories during the public comment section of the meeting.

“My question to you would be if any of you would be willing to do the work that we do, like changing a diaper for an adult,” said IHSS caregiver Juana Mendez. “Then maybe you can see that and put yourself in my situation.”

Her challenge to all the supervisors was responded to by District 5 – Supervisor John C. Zaragoza who did not address her question, but simply replied with a “Thank You.”

Negotiations are underway with SEIU 2015’s bargaining team and the County over IHSS worker wages. Back in May, the Board handed members of the union a letter indicating their desire to reduce the compensation of IHSS providers. This happened at a time when caregivers had been busy finding solutions to secure the funding of the IHSS program in the state Capitol. Since then, the Board has expressed their willingness to negotiate and preserve the IHSS program as is. However, simple assurance that the funding to provide services for the disabled and elderly in our region is frankly not enough.

“We make financial sacrifices to work as a home care provider, but we do it for the love we have for our consumers. We just need a living wage,” said IHSS caregiver Pascuel Correa of Thousand Oaks, who cares for his daughter so his wife can work.

According to the 2017 State of the Region Report from the county, the median wage for a home care worker is $11.13. That’s less than the living wage for one adult in the county, which is $12.93. The report also states that a family of two adults would at the very least need to each make an hourly wage of $20.88 to cover basic needs. That number puts IHSS providers almost $10 under the regional cost of living even though the workforce is one of the top 10 high demand jobs in the county. This is unacceptable.

The care that IHSS providers give their patients requires hard work – from bathing, to picking up and monitoring medication, and assisting with mobility – to feeding and caring for providers, even during hours they are not compensated for. Home care workers do the work they do because their compassion compels them to do what they can to care for others, the least the Ventura County Board of Supervisors can do is make sure that these providers, and everyday heroes, can count on a wage that will allow them to stay out of poverty.

The 4,000 IHSS workers in Ventura County still want to see a supervisor experience a day in their lives. They will continue to push for the supervisors to take Mendez up on her offer.

Negotiations will continue on July 20th.

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About SEIU Local 2015

With representational responsibility for over 325,000 home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center 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.

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