County holds their healthcare hostage in an attempt to force providers to choose between a modest cost of living adjustment or their healthcare benefits.
Fresno, CA – Today, 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, held a day of action at the Fresno County Hall of Records to advocate for improved healthcare benefits and a living wage. At the event, SEIU 2015 members were joined by the renowned long-time labor advocate Dolores Huerta and Fresno Council Member Miguel Arias.
Long-term care workers in Fresno County currently do not receive adequate benefits or livable wages. Some are even leaving 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 40% of IHSS providers in Fresno County experience consistent food insecurity, forced to rely on CalFresh and/or food banks.
- 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.
- Nearly 60% of IHSS providers surveyed spend at least 50% of their income on housing, and about 20% spend more than 75%.
- 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.
“These dedicated workers put themselves on the front lines every day, caring for our loved ones, yet they’re struggling to survive on pennies more than minimum wage. It’s time for policymakers to finally recognize the important nature of in-home care by preserving crucial healthcare benefits and paying our providers livable wages,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015.
Despite being hailed as heroes during the early months of the pandemic, care workers nationwide still don’t receive pay or benefits that adequately reflect the essential and valuable nature of the work they do. And with volatile economic conditions continuing to make it more difficult to live in California, these issues threaten to exacerbate the already significant staffing challenges affecting the state’s long-term care system. 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.
Additionally, across the country roughly 10,000 people turn 65 every day. As this number of older adults and people with disabilities who require in-home care continues to grow in Fresno County and throughout California, it is critical that we attract, and retain, a more robust workforce.
“Despite this vital role I am still paid just pennies over minimum wage and have no healthcare benefits. I am now forced to consider the health and safety of those who need it against other job opportunities where I can actually make a living and provide for myself. It is an impossible choice.” said Emily Perez, an in-home care provider in Fresno County and an SEIU 2015 member.
Additional investment in our caregivers, here in Fresno County and throughout the state, are 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.
Participating SEIU members will be available on-site for interviews and can speak to today’s action.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media