Long-term care providers, going 11 years without a contract, speak out for higher wages and solutions to Tehama County’s caregiver shortage

Press Contact:
Mara Ortenburger, marao@seiu2015.org(510) 410-2997
December 19, 2023

Red Bluff, 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 – spoke out to demand higher wages and solutions to the county’s caregiver shortage.  

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers are calling on the Tehama Board of Supervisors to take decisive action to ensure seniors and people with disabilities can access the life-saving care they need. Tehama County IHSS Providers make minimum wage, just $15.50 per hour. They have been without a contract for 11 years and have not received a negotiated pay increase since 2011. 

IHSS workers are a vital part of Tehama County’s long-term care workforce, but these low wages have made it difficult to attract and retain caregivers. Last year, Tehama County IHSS Public Authority was unable to fulfill 131,800 care hours requested and needed by seniors and people with disabilities. There are not enough caregivers to provide IHSS services because of the low wages and benefits. 

“These dedicated workers put themselves on the front lines every day, caring for older adults and those with disabilities, yet they don’t earn the livable wages they need. It’s time for policymakers to finally recognize the important nature of in-home care by paying our providers livable wages,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015

Seniors and people with disabilities in Tehama’s rural areas have limited access to healthcare facilities and transportation options. IHSS workers are vital links in this context, offering crucial care to those who struggle to reach medical centers or specialized services. The provider shortage jeopardizes the safety and wellbeing of these populations – especially in the most rural parts of the county. 

Despite providing an essential community service, IHSS workers are often left paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket to care for clients in remote parts of the County, or to transport clients to medical appointments in San Francisco or Sacramento due to the limited access to healthcare in Tehama. 

“I shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table to feed my kids or putting gas in my car to get to work,” said Jerrika Salyers, Tehama County IHSS provider. “The work we do is essential, and it doesn’t stop during the holiday season, either. It’s time the County finally respects the dedication, skill, and compassion of Tehama’s IHSS workers.”

“Soy madre soltera de tres hermosos hijos, y uno es mi cliente de IHSS”, said Tehama IHSS provider, Maria Rodriguez-Luevano. “Lo que más deseo es brindarles la mejor calidad de vida, y ¡estoy dispuesta a luchar por un contrato sólido para proveedores de IHSS que me garantice que puedo lograr mi objetivo.”

Translation: “I’m a single mother to three beautiful children, and one is my IHSS client,” said Tehama IHSS provider, Maria Rodriguez-Luevano. “All I want is to provide the best possible life for them, and I’m willing to fight for a strong contract for IHSS providers to make sure I am able to do that.”

Across the country roughly 10,000 people turn 65 every day. As the number of older adults and people with disabilities who require in-home care continues to grow in Tehama, it is critical that we attract more people to this workforce (and retain them).

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 Board of Supervisors to work with us to address these pressing issues and ensure that all who qualify can access the care they need in the comfort of their own homes.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.