Kings County In-Home Care Providers—Mostly Women—Achieve Wage Increase and Stronger Benefits in New Tentative Agreement

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Terry Carter, 213 , uies
July 11, 2022
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A victory in the Union’s statewide campaign to raise wages for these heroes; Kings County In-Home Supportive Services workers reach tentative agreement on their union contract

Kings County, CA – SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing more than 400,000 long-term care workers in California, today announced that In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers in Kings County have reached a tentative agreement on their Union contract after a tough fight facing countywide financial difficulties and a fiscally conservative board of supervisors. 

At every step of the process, the bargaining team worked to prioritize the interests of home care providers in budget negotiations, ensuring that the community’s most vulnerable residents will receive the quality care they deserve in the comfort of their own homes. The full provisions of the contract amount to a more than 14% wage increase for essential in-home care providers in the area over the next three years. 

Union members will hold a ratification vote on August 9th, and the ratified contract will then go to the Kings County Board of Supervisors on August 23rd to adopt and pass on to the State for implementation. Upon contract implementation, wages will increase to $0.60 above the minimum wage, moving from the current $15.00/hr to $15.60/hr, and to $16.10/hr in January 2023, reaching $17.10/hr by January 2025. 

“​​In-home caregivers look after our family members, friends, and loved ones, and our members deserve pay and benefits that accurately reflect the indispensable role they serve in our communities. These improvements are yet another pivotal step toward the $20 wage floor for all long-term care providers,” said SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett. “The change is a testament to our continued mission behind our Time for $20 campaign. These efforts are propelled by Union members at bargaining tables across the state to raise standards in the industry, including access to healthcare, professional training, on-the-job safety, and secure retirement.”

Today’s victory comes amid a long-term care industry that has been 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, which has resulted in care providers leaving the profession at unprecedented rates. 

Recent polling from SEIU Local 2015 shows that one in five in-home caregivers are likely to leave their current position in the coming 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. 

Kings County was offering IHSS workers a 10 cents wage increase at the beginning of negotiations. That offer was a slap in the face to ihss workers. Thanks to our persistence and union member participation we won a significant wage increase,” said Rebecca McGee, Kings County IHSS worker. 

Since January 2020, SEIU Local 2015 has won union contracts covering long-term care providers in 119 nursing homes and 23 counties across the state, securing better pandemic safety, improved wages and benefits, and a voice in the care its members provide. 

In addition to the wage increase, other notable wins in this contract include:

  • Personal Protective Equipment
    The Public Authority will provide up to $2,000 a year in PPE, included latex gloves and hand sanitizer
  • Labor Management committee
    The Public Authority will meet regularly with a Union committee to discuss registry concerns, trainings, health and safety, and other issues that may arise
  • Union Membership
    New providers will receive a 30 minute presentation to learn about resources and benefits that come with being a part of their union. Orientations can be conducted remotely upon mutual agreement. 

Over the last two years, SEIU Local 2015 members across California have put their fight to improve the long-term care industry into high gear. Throughout 2022, SEIU Local 2015 members have held multiple state-wide days of action, demonstrating at long-term care facilities across California to highlight the staffing crisis, show support for improved conditions, and to put pressure on those with the power to make the necessary changes. This past March, SEIU Local 2015 proposed a statewide Quality Standards Board to oversee California’s troubled nursing home industry.

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