Essential in-home care providers—members of SEIU Local 2015, the nation’s largest long-term care union representing more than 400,000 nursing home and home care workers—escalated their call for a $20 minimum wage floor
LOS ANGELES, CA—Today, at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ first in-person public hearing in more than two years, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers in the county escalated their insistence that the Board of Supervisors invest in-home care, and put long-term care workers in desperate need of a living wage on a path to $20, improved healthcare, training, and other critical employment benefits. Essential in-home care providers stood in solidarity with the Keep L.A. Housed coalition, noting that too many home care providers struggle to afford housing. IHSS providers were also joined by their consumers and supporters.
Home care providers used this first-since-COVID public board meeting to lift up their call for a path to a $20/hr wage floor during the open comment portion. Members reiterated the twin issues of low wages and lack of available care providers that have resulted in an urgent staffing crisis affecting the health, autonomy and wellbeing of our vulnerable elderly and those with disabilities throughout Los Angeles County.
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.
“As the need for long-term care providers in Los Angeles continues to balloon, government officials must act now to ensure that we can meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities living in our community,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “And to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, all women, make no mistake that this is an urgent women’s issue. Almost 90% of care providers are women, and these caregivers make it possible for other women—who most often take on caregiving duties in the home—to get to work to provide for their families. We are determined to do whatever it takes to make sure that the Board passes a $20 living wage floor in this year’s budget.”
Recent data revealed more than 750,000 authorized care hours go unused every month in the county, illustrating vulnerable 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.
Recently, in-home caregivers of SEIU Local 2015 achieved a significant victory in the Bay Area, reaching 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.
Here in Los Angeles County, research also shows that increasing the pay of caregivers would not only better support these frontline heroes, but also result in positive downstream economic impacts in our communities. IHSS is one of the best financial investments a county can make. Every $1 the county invests in the IHSS program brings as much as $5 in additional contributions into the local economy from State and Federal governments. 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.
“Today, our members once again showed the L.A. County Board of Supervisors what their inaction means for both care consumers and providers. Too many individuals who want to make a career out of skilled caregiving are being forced out of the industry to pursue jobs with higher pay in the fast food, warehouse, and retail sectors,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, Executive Vice President of SEIU Local 2015. “It is imperative that the Board passes a $20 minimum wage floor to stop the flood of essential workers leaving the long-term care industry every day.”
Today’s 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. Los Angeles home care providers and their supporters will hold a follow-up action to continue their fight for $20 at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ offices on Tuesday, October 4.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.