San Benito, 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, are holding a press conference. San Benito County IHSS workers are demanding adequate healthcare benefits and livable wages – critical issues which the San Benito Board of Supervisors has refused to address.
Currently, San Benito is the only county in the Central Coast that does not give healthcare to providers, and as a result long-term care workers are leaving their jobs to relocate and work new positions with better contracts that are inclusive of healthcare benefits. Some are even leaving the long term care industry altogether. With volatile economic conditions and inflation continuing to make it more difficult for working-class people to live in California, these issues threaten to exacerbate the already significant staffing challenges affecting the state’s long-term care system.
This shortage of care providers means people aren’t getting the care they need. Last year, more than 34,000 authorized care hours went unused in the county.
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).
“These dedicated workers put themselves on the front lines every day, caring for vulnerable Californians, yet they do not have access to healthcare benefits themselves. It’s time for policymakers to finally recognize the important nature of in-home care by giving our providers these crucial benefits and paying them livable wages,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, President of SEIU Local 2015.
“I don’t think our society values the work that we do. The wages are not enough to live on and are less than what we deserve. Many people who look for employment try to get a job to get health insurance and we don’t get that either.”said Norma Gutierrez , an in-home care provider in San Benito County and an SEIU 2015 member. “Despite this vital role I am still paid just pennies over minimum wage and have no healthcare benefits. I am now forced to consider the health and safety of those who need it against other job opportunities where I can actually make a living and provide for myself. It is an impossible choice.”
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.
Participating SEIU members will be available on-site for interviews and can speak to today’s action.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.