Joined by elected officials Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago and others, street theater performers, IHSS consumers and local Korean Drummers, members of SEIU 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing more than 400,000 long-term care workers in CA, closed down the street while rallying for a $20 per hour living wage floor.
Los Angeles, CA, Monday, September 5th—This Labor Day, Los Angeles In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers—joined by their supporters, including SEIU Local 721 President David Green, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network, and others—escalated their insistence that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors protect local long-term care workers in desperate need of a living wage, improved healthcare, training, and other critical employment benefits.
More than 1,000 IHSS workers and supporters shut down the street in front of the Board of Supervisors office to perform street theater dramatizing the twin issues of low wages and lack of care providers. Union members continued to draw attention to the fundamental necessities they’re forced to live without because of the poor wages they’re paid for their essential work. Today’s rally culminated in community street theater groups and local Korean Drummers joining together in song and demonstration, urging the Board of Supervisors to stop rejecting the caregivers’ call for a modest wage increase to a $20 per hour living wage.
Battered by the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing labor issues related to poor wages and lack of access to benefits, care providers have been leaving the profession at unprecedented rates. Earlier this year, polling from SEIU Local 2015 showed that one in five in-home caregivers indicated they were likely to leave their current position this year, with respondents citing low wages, lack of retirement benefits, and general concerns related to financial security as the primary reasons for their potential departure. Furthermore, more than 30% of IHSS providers in California are forced to work multiple jobs because the pay from in-home caregiving is not enough to make ends meet.
“There’s no better time than today to recognize our essential workers. Labor Day marks a critical moment for workers across America to renew their commitment to the fight for better wages and workplace protections that they deserve,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “We will not stop fighting until the Board of Supervisors passes a $20 living wage floor, vowing to stand with California’s long-term care workers of past, present, and future.”
Today’s Labor Day rally marks the latest in a series of actions recently taken by SEIU Local 2015 to bring attention to the crisis facing the broader long-term care community – both in private homes and in nursing homes in California in support of the “Time for $20” campaign. Recently, in-home caregivers of SEIU Local 2015 achieved a significant victory in the Bay Area, winning an agreement on their Union contract with Alameda County that puts these essential frontline heroes on a pathway to earning a $20 an hour wage floor by 2025—an 18% increase designed to attract much-needed providers and keep existing providers from leaving the industry.
“Today—especially with those heartbreaking street theater performances—we showed the Board of Supervisors what their decisions mean for both care consumers and providers. When providers are forced to leave consumers for jobs that will pay the bills, that leaves too many who rely on care to scramble…or worse. Our communities’ care workers must be prioritized, heard and respected—not forgotten or treated as second-class,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, Executive Vice President of SEIU Local 2015. “This Labor Day, long-term care workers showed their power and commitment to better their lives and the lives of their consumers.”
Recent data revealed more than 750,000 authorized care hours go unused every month, much of which is believed to stem from consumers’ difficulties finding providers. At the same time, with our aging population, L.A. County gains about 10,000 new IHSS consumers every year. Unless these become better jobs, care providers will continue to leave this profession for fast food, warehouse, retail and other jobs that have started paying substantially more.
Here in Los Angeles County, research shows that increasing the pay of caregivers would not only better support these frontline heroes, but also result in positive downstream economic impacts in communities across the state. According to research from Beacon Economics, an increase to a $20 per hour wage floor for IHSS Caregivers in Los Angeles County would support nearly 12,000 new jobs, generate more than $708M in additional labor income, and generate an additional $2.1B in economic output.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.