Fresno County home care workers—mostly women of color—rally at Board of Supervisors office for livable wages and healthcare benefits on the eve of Juneteenth

June 18, 2024

Fresno County, CA – Today, Fresno In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care providers—members of SEIU Local 2015 the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing more than 470,000 nursing home workers and home care providers—rallied at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to call for livable wages and healthcare benefits. Ahead of Juneteenth, IHSS workers are calling out the caregiving industry’s enduring legacy of racist policies and the urgent need to address wage disparities and improve working conditions for women of color, who make up the majority of the caregiving workforce.

In California, in-home care workers are 80% women and 74% people of color. This rally underscores IHSS worker’s ongoing fight for racial and economic justice, as the majority of IHSS workers are women of color facing these systemic economic challenges. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and serves as a reminder of the fight for equity. By rallying on the eve of this historic day, IHSS workers are calling out this history and demanding improved wages and working conditions for women of color, who are the backbone of the caregiving workforce. The expectation that women – especially women of color – do backbreaking and emotionally taxing care work for sub-livable wages is a relic of our nation’s unconscionable era of slavery.

Fresno County’s current IHSS wage is only $16.60 an hour with a $0.85 health benefit contribution. The board threatens to completely remove healthcare coverage in order to bring their shockingly lowball offer of a 15 cent raise up to 85 cents. Long-term care workers in Fresno County are struggling to make ends meet, prompting many to leave the long-term care industry altogether. This comes as Fresno County faces a shortage of care providers. Last year, more than 626,000 authorized care hours went unused, indicating a lack of providers and care that older adults and those with disabilities desperately needed. A livable wage will help caregivers, most often women of color, support themselves and their families. 

A recent poll of in-home care workers in Fresno County underscored the urgent challenges that many of these essential workers face. Some of the distressing findings include:   

  • 80.7% of IHSS providers in Fresno County reported working multiple jobs – at least some of the time – just to make ends meet. That’s nearly 4 out of every 5 provider’s in the county. 
  • 42.3% of IHSS providers in Fresno County experience consistent food insecurity, relying on CalFresh and/or food banks at least monthly. 
  • 84.8% of IHSS providers in Fresno County who have cars miss regular maintenance on their car because it is too expensive.
  • 53.5% of IHSS providers in Fresno County have difficulty paying their mortgage or rent each month, with many reporting that they are sometimes or always late with their payments.
  • 55.7% of IHSS providers in Fresno County are sometimes or often unable to access medication because they cannot afford the cost of prescriptions. 

“IHSS home care providers must be paid and treated as the essential workers that they are. These workers are the backbone of our community, yet they’re struggling to survive. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors must recognize the crucial work of in-home care providers by paying livable wages and preserving access to healthcare for these providers,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015

By not increasing wages, the county is also leaving millions of state and federal dollars on the table that could otherwise benefit the local economy. For every dollar in IHSS wages and benefits, the county only covers 16 cents with the federal and state covering the remaining 84 cents. SEIU 2015’s proposed wage increase would bring in over $370 million from the federal government and more than $200 million from the state. That’s nearly 600 million extra dollars brought into the local economy by simply doing what’s right and standing with care providers. ​​In Fresno County, the growth in IHSS consumers exploded over the past 10 years, growing by 76% between 2012 and 2023, which is why now is the time for the Board of Supervisors to support our proposal to help retain and attract caregivers. 

IHSS care provider Olga Valle Ayarzagoita attended the event. Olga recently held a fierce 5-day Hunger-Strike to stand against the deep-rooted inequities across the county to address the need for livable wages and healthcare. Read Olga’s full story here:

“I am 62. Frankly, medical care is too expensive — especially since I don’t make a whole lot — but I need it at this age. Sad thing is, it would cost me almost $200 a month to get better dental insurance. Cost of living is going up and going up, but they don’t want to give us a raise? We caregivers need adequate healthcare and wages we can survive on,” said Mark Blodgett, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Mark’s full story here: 

“As caregivers, we give our everything to the folks we care for. We’re not asking for the moon here, or for the county to make us millionaires. We just want livable wages, no cuts to our healthcare, and real solutions from Fresno County Board members,” said Bill Peterson, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Bill’s full story here:

“Right now, I have to choose which bill I can skip each month in order to purchase groceries. My job is very rewarding, and it’s looked down upon in society…I thought about working somewhere else that pays more, that offers health benefits and that would allow me to buy groceries and pay my bills. Right now, my salary is $16.25 an hour and it is not working. I could earn more as a fast food worker or janitor. I don’t want to work in fast food, my heart lies in caregiving, but I have thought about my options. I was put on this planet to do this, so the Fresno County Board of Supervisors need to spend a day in our shoes to know why it’s important to create a solution and increase our wages before this industry collapses.”,” said Wendy Davenport, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Wendy’s full story here:

“I don’t like that the Board is trying to take our healthcare away. I try to see both sides, but these officials we help to elect don’t seem to care about our health care needs. I can’t afford to give my income to cover healthcare, when I have all these other bills to take care of. Not all of us are able to get help from the state, since we’re maxing out our hours. We want to be more self-sufficient, which the Fresno County Board should also want. Why won’t they invest in the county’s long-term care? I feel like my community very much values what I do, but the Supervisors don’t value us as caregivers.,” said Christy Clark, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Christy’s full story here:

“Do I wish I could pay for all my stuff with just my provider job? Absolutely. But it’s just not possible right now. If I didn’t have two jobs, I wouldn’t be able to afford groceries or pay my other bills. Just last month, I remember having barely enough to get me through the weeks. I have to calculate each cent and ensure I’ll make it out on the other side on to the next month. It’s not right. But it’s where I am in life right now, and it’s like that for a lot of care providers in this county. We barely make ends meet, and healthcare coverage is the last thing we should have to worry about,” said Chue Moua, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Chue’s full story here:

SEIU Local 2015 is committed to advocating for policies that support in-home care providers and those they care for, including livable wages and benefits, as well as access to training and professional development opportunities. We urge the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to work with us to address these pressing issues and ensure that all who qualify have access to the care they need and deserve in the comfort of their own homes.

To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit or on social media @SEIU2015.