SEIU Contract Victory – Ventura County IHSS Workers Press Release

August 2, 2021
Posted in Press
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In-home care providers—mostly women of color—win Hero Pay in Union contract with Ventura County.

Other provisions in the tentative agreement include funding for pandemic safety equipment, professional training and more.

Ventura County, CA–The in-home supportive services (IHSS) caregivers of SEIU Local 2015 ratified their Union contract with Ventura County on July 24th after months of often emotional negotiations. The County Board of Supervisors adopted the contract in their July 27 meeting. Caregivers at the bargaining table shared their heartbreaking experiences during the past year-and-a-half. They were determined to ensure that they and their colleagues receive more protection during the ongoing global pandemic than they experienced last year, including a $250 one-time “Hero Pay” disbursement to all qualifying county IHSS providers and new funding for pandemic safety equipment.

The Bargaining Team also continued their ongoing efforts to transform essential, skilled caregiving jobs into good jobs. This contract brings them a significant step closer, with investment in important caregiver training and a wage increase that finally recognizes that these jobs should not be minimum wage jobs.

“We reached a strong agreement with substantial improvements for our In-Home Supportive Services members serving elderly and disabled clients and their families in Ventura County,” said SEIU Local 2015 Executive Vice President Dereck Smith. “As the pandemic continues to ravage our communities, our members continue to work tirelessly to provide the best care. We’re grateful that the County recognized the need for continued funding for PPE and better working conditions to ensure our members can properly and safely provide quality care in our communities.”

“My job is to ensure my clients have dignity, respect and care,” said Kim Ballon, an IHSS provider in Thousand Oaks. “I served on my Union’s Bargaining Team to make sure those of us providing care are also respected and treated with dignity. This time last year we went to our jobs every day not knowing what we were walking into, and yet we showed up and served our community. Some of us died. The $250 hazard pay and the commitment to provide the necessary PPE won’t bring anyone back, but it’s an important recognition of the important, dangerous work we do.”

Since January 2020, SEIU Local 2015 has worked with counties and nursing homes across the state of California to ratify ___ contracts, securing better pandemic safety, important COVID-19 and other trainings, improved wages and benefits, and a voice in the care its members provide.

“Let’s face it, modern home care’s roots go back to the enslaved Blacks and poor immigrants—almost always women—who took care of day-to-day household needs. Even today, long-term care providers’ wages are typically right at or marginally above minimum wage,” SEIU Local 2015 President April Verrett. “Home care is a good place to start addressing systemic racism and gender discrimination. This contract provides for a pay increase from $14.64 an hour to $17.25 in January 2023, bringing the hourly wage to $2.25 above minimum. That’s a significant step toward the $20 wage floor for all long-term care providers that our members call for in their ‘Time for $20’ campaign.”

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

PPE
Funding for pandemic safety equipment had been the responsibility of the often low-wage “employer” clients, which meant IHSS workers were left scrambling for their own (if they could find it) or re-using and even sharing gloves and masks. For the first time, the county commits to spending $10,000 per fiscal year to provide gloves, surgical masks and hand sanitizer directly to IHSS providers.

Training
Especially important as IHSS providers navigate complications caused by the pandemic, the county commits to spending $20,000 per fiscal year to provide job specific training classes.

Voice on the job
The contract strengthens language governing the joint Labor Management Committee, including Union members’ participation in planning the training calendar mentioned above.

Funding for pandemic safety equipment had been the responsibility of the often low-wage “employer” clients, which meant IHSS workers were left scrambling for their own (if they could find it) or re-using and even sharing gloves and masks. For the first time, the county commits to spending $10,000 per fiscal year to provide gloves, surgical masks and hand sanitizer directly to IHSS providers.

Especially important as IHSS providers navigate complications caused by the pandemic, the county commits to spending $20,000 per fiscal year to provide job specific training classes.

The contract strengthens language governing the joint Labor Management Committee, including Union members’ participation in planning the training calendar mentioned above.

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

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SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California, representing more than 400,000 long-term care workers (home care, skilled nursing facility, and assisted living center workers) throughout the state. Its members are as diverse as the state’s population, but united in their commitment to caring for California’s most vulnerable: seniors and the disabled.