Sacramento, 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 at the Sacramento Board of Supervisors meeting after they launched a three-day camp out yesterday in front of their offices in protest of near poverty wages. Photos here.
Sacramento’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers left the meeting chanting and continued to rally with elected officials to demand that the board address the growing need for care and the industry’s current provider shortage crisis amid poverty wages, barriers to healthcare, disparities in compensation, and more.
Sacramento County IHSS workers are demanding adequate healthcare benefits and livable wages—critical issues as demand for care surges, which the Sacramento Board of Supervisors has refused to address. IHSS workers, who are calling upon the Sacramento Board of Supervisors to take decisive action to ensure nobody goes without the life-saving care they need, were joined this week by supporters and allies of the SEIU Local 2015 community including Rev. Tecoy Porter, Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, Citrus Heights Mayor Porsche Middleton, Sacramento mayoral candidate Dr. Flo Cofer, former Board of Supervisors candidate Jaclyn Moreno, and members of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.
IHSS workers in Sacramento County currently don’t earn enough to cover even half of the amount needed to pay for household expenses. Those who provide essential care for older adults and people with disabilities in Sacramento County should not be forced into poverty wages. Board members have cynically held caregivers’ healthcare hostage, noting that any further increase to wages would only come at the cost of a decrease in their health coverage. Meanwhile, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors has recently granted themselves a 36% raise, labeled an “equity adjustment,” bringing their annual salaries up to $173,398 as of June 4, 2023.
It’s time for the Board of Supervisors to establish a $20 wage floor to attract and retain caregivers. With volatile economic conditions and inflation continuing to make it more difficult for working families to live in California, these issues threaten to exacerbate the already significant staffing challenges affecting the state’s long-term care system.
This is on top of an already existing shortage: last year, more than 2.1 million authorized care hours went unused in Sacramento County, indicating a lack of providers for seniors and people with disabilities who desperately need them. This shortage of care providers means people aren’t getting the care they need.
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 California, it is critical that we attract more to this workforce (and retain them).
“Dedicated caregivers 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—the majority of whom are women of color—by giving our providers these crucial benefits and paying them livable wages,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015.
SEIU Local 2015’s Economic Indicator Survey of its caregiver members found that 61% of home care providers in Sacramento are unable to access medication because they can’t afford the cost of prescriptions, 58% have had to skip doctor visits due to financial concerns, and 73% of home care providers in Sacramento have difficulty paying their mortgage/rent each month, with many reporting they are sometimes or always late with payments.Two-thirds of providers in Sacramento spend at least 50% of their income on housing, nearly a quarter of providers spend more than 75% of their income on housing, and 47% of home care providers in Sacramento experience food insecurity and utilize CalFresh and/or food banks regularly.
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 have access to the care they need and deserve in the comfort of their own homes.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.