Fresno County long term care workers rally at Board of Supervisors office, reject poverty wages and scrapped healthcare proposal

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DKC News,
December 12, 2023

Fresno County, CA – Today, Fresno In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers, members of SEIU Local 2015—the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing nearly 450,000 nursing home workers and home care providers—rallied at the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to reject the board’s proposed poverty wages and threats to eliminate healthcare coverage for the county’s long-term care workers. 

In Fresno County, the board threatens to completely eliminate healthcare coverage in order to bring their shockingly lowball offer of a 15¢ raise up to 85¢. Supervisors have even noted that many providers qualify for Medi-Cal—a tacit acknowledgement that the wages they offer caregivers is so low.

Long-term care workers in Fresno County are struggling to make ends meet, prompting many to leave the long term care industry altogether. In fact, 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:   

  • More than 80% of IHSS providers in Fresno County reported working multiple jobs – at least some of the time – just to make ends meet. That’s 4 out of every 5 providers in the county. 
  • More than 42% of IHSS providers in Fresno County experience consistent food insecurity, relying on CalFresh and/or food banks at least monthly. 
  • Nearly 55% 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.
  • More than 55% of IHSS providers in Fresno County are sometimes or often unable to access medication because they cannot afford the cost of prescriptions.

Some Fresno County Supervisors have misrepresented their offer by falsely claiming that their proposal seeks to “extend benefits to all.” In reality, the board’s offer would cancel county-provided healthcare coverage and push IHSS providers onto government assistance Medi-Cal with poverty wages. 

“IHSS workers and long-term 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

IHSS workers, long-term care providers, and SEIU Local 2015 members and allies are calling on the board to address the growing demand for care and the industry’s provider shortage crisis amid poverty wages, barriers to healthcare, disparities in compensation, and more. This shortage of care providers means people aren’t getting the care they need. 

Last year, nearly a million authorized care hours went unused in Fresno County, indicating thousands of people in the county having difficulty finding care.

“What I do is really difficult work. It takes blood, sweat, tears — all of that. It’s a difficult job that not everybody is cut out for. And this isn’t me complaining. I love what I do. I just wish I could get paid in a way that shows how hard I work. But not just me. It’s all caregivers. We all need better pay and better insurance, if this system is going stay upright. Something’s got to change, at this point, and I’m happy to fight for that change,” said Mark Blodgett, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Mark’s full story here:

“We know Fresno is on a care cliff crisis. And this work is hard — period. Caring for my son, Jack, I know not everyone is cut out to do it. It’s time for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to understand we mean business, and investing in care is vital not just to this county, but across the state. I love my job, it’s what I wake up each day proud to do. I just wish providers like me can have a pathway to livable wages and keep our healthcare without pushing us toward government assistance like Medi-Cal on our low wages. The time to ‘Put Care First’ is NOW.” Said Bill Peterson, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Bill’s full story here: 

“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 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?” Said Christy Clark, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Christy’s full story here:

“If I’m taking care of someone in need and prevent them from landing in the hospital (and hospitals were in deep crisis all around Fresno County in 2023 !) shouldn’t I have healthcare to keep myself healthy on the job? What if I need a surgery and I can’t afford it on what I make on my IHSS salary? That’s what insurance is supposed to be for, but now the Supervisors are making us choose between paid poverty wages relying on government systems like Medi-Cal, or finding healthcare elsewhere.” Said Chue Moua, a Fresno County IHSS provider and an SEIU 2015 member. Read Chue’s full story here:

Additional investment in our caregivers, here in Fresno County and throughout the state, is urgently needed to help stem the exodus of staff leaving this industry. An investment in home and community-based care would help meet the growing demand for care and establish a pipeline of home care workers into the next generation by transforming care jobs into good, living-wage, union jobs with training opportunities and real career pathways.

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.