Caregivers are leading the way to fix California’s broken long-term care industry with a new proposal to ensure Californians can receive quality care in the setting of their choice.
San Francisco, CA – On Thursday, April 20, SEIU Local 2015, the country’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing nearly 450,000 nursing home and home care workers, hosted a town hall event with local elected officials—including California Assemblymembers Liz Ortega and bill author Matt Haney—and its members to discuss a path forward to addressing the issues plaguing the long-term care industry.
The discussion focused on AB 1672, a new bill that has been introduced to empower caregivers to transform California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program statewide and protect the right and freedom of Californians to receive care in the setting of their choice. This legislation, launched in partnership with the United Domestic Workers (UDW), would enable workers to negotiate directly with the State to make changes needed to recruit, train, and retain the home care workforce California needs as we age.
“We are proud to host this roundtable discussion with our members and elected officials to shine a light on the challenges that essential caregivers experience every day,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015. “The ‘Our Care Counts’ bill is a necessary and crucial step towards transforming the long-term care industry in California and ensuring that older adults and people with disabilities receive the high-quality care they deserve. We look forward to continuing to amplify the voices of care providers across California and working with all our stakeholders to create the change that is sorely needed in the long-term care industry.”
“I authored this bill because caregivers are the backbone of California’s long-term care industry, and they deserve to be treated with the dignity and respect they have earned through the vital work they do every day,” said Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco). “By allowing caregivers to negotiate directly with the state, instead of individual counties, we can transform this industry and ensure that older adults and people with disabilities in California receive quality care in the setting of their choice.”
Today’s roundtable discussion provided a forum for caregivers to share their experiences and challenges in providing care to older adults and people with disabilities in the Bay Area and across California. Currently, California is experiencing a caregiving crisis. The number of older adults and people with disabilities in need of in-home care is growing by the day, with demand currently outpacing the supply of available caregivers. Making matters worse, the long-term care industry is simultaneously experiencing a staffing crisis, with low wages and a lack of access to benefits forcing caregivers to pursue opportunities in different industries.
The implementation of AB 1672 would lay a foundation to address many of the challenges caregivers experience. The state is already short of the number of caregivers it needs, with millions of authorized hours going unused. Currently, California’s IHSS program is a fragmented system split between 56 public authorities, keeping workers constantly struggling for marginal wage gains. The majority of counties in California pay salaries barely above minimum wage, and not a single county in California pays home care providers a living wage. The “Our Care Counts” bill would allow workers to negotiate directly with the state government, shifting the responsibility to bargain from the counties to the state. In other states with statewide bargaining for in-home supportive services, caregivers have negotiated improvements that stabilize the workforce, including statewide training programs to contributions to retirement security.
SEIU Local 2015 and UDW call on elected officials across California to support the “Our Care Counts” campaign and to take action to transform the long-term care industry. We look forward to hosting additional forums in which caregivers and other stakeholders can gather to share their experiences and collaborate on a path forward to ensuring vulnerable Californians receive the care they need.