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Humboldt County: Care Worker Wages

Humboldt County: Care Worker Wages

By Will Houston, Eureka Times-Standard POSTED: 02/21/17

The state’s plans to end the Coordinated Care Initiative at the start of the new fiscal year was also discussed with Brown.

The initiative is currently playing a key role in ongoing wage negotiations between the county and a local in-home health care workers union.

County officials state these changes will now shift more costs on the counties to pay the wages of in-home care providers to the tune of about $625 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year if no changes are made, according to the California State Association of Counties.

Humboldt County anticipates it would incur $1.6 million in new costs over the next six years if the initiative is removed, which Bass said would likely impact other county services.

“Those dollars have to come out of somewhere,” she said.

Local in-home care workers in the SEIU Local 2015 union have been attending nearly every Board of Supervisors meeting since the start of the year to call for the board to increase their pay above minimum wage.

The union’s previous two-year contract with the county expired in July 2016. The state minimum wage is set to increase to $15 per hour by 2022. In-home care workers were recently given three paid sick days by the state — up from none.

But for local in-home care workers like Arcata resident Shonquinta Jones, minimum wage is not enough to support a family especially as the cost of living increases.

Jones currently takes care of her autistic son full-time because his condition makes it difficult for them to find a child care provider and school that meet his needs.

As a result, she said she had to quit her teaching job and move into a lower-income bracket as an in-home care provider. Her rent is going up and she said her bank is now charging a fee for accounts that do not have more than $500 — an amount she struggles to maintain while raising a family, trying to put a daughter through college and paying off her own college loans.

“The cost of living supersedes what we earn, so we demand a wage increase to match this so that we are not pushed into poverty or, God forbid, homelessness,” she said. “Simply put, we want to live comfortably and be examples of caregivers that are content and excited to encourage others to become caregivers. Our community of clients need us.”

Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Central Labor Council President Mark Greenleaf implied to the board that its decision on the wage contract will likely have political impacts.

“There may be a day of reckoning,” he said. “I would recommend [to] you very strongly to work together with them and make some kind of agreement because we’re watching.”

The San Jose Mercury news contributed to this article. Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.

Article from: Times-Standard

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