Home care workers rallied for a $20 living wage raise for essential caregivers in Kings County
SEIU Local 2015 Kings County home care providers expressed their struggle to survive with low wages and no health care on Tuesday morning as they advocated for ‘time pay for $20” to the Supervisory Board.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
“Is it time for 20?”
“Is it time for heroes?”
“Is It Time For Hero’s Paycheck?”
Their list of demands is not long: an increase in their current minimum wage which is currently $15 and health insurance or a pathway to health care.
“I would say those are our two best. Our members would like to have a vacation, would like to have a vacation, but they are suffering. They are suffering so the two main things that you know shouldn’t be a choice are getting a living wage and health insurance,” said María Xiquin Espinoza, Regional Director of SEIU Local 2015.
Statewide, Xiquin Espinoza said the union is struggling to reach $20 an hour.
“It’s been six years since the last raise, and since that, six years, a lot has happened. With COVID, with the cost of living, with gasoline, I don’t have to tell you how it is,” said trade unionist Robert Gutiérrez.
SEIU 2015 has represented Kings County caregivers since 2015 and has negotiated with the Board of Supervisors since then for improved wages and benefits.
“Everything increases, the bills, the races. And we’re just trying to keep up with everyday life and hope that the board of supervisors will hear our cry for higher salaries. I hope the document makes it to the negotiating table,” said Gutiérrez, who lives in Hanford and has been a home care provider of home support services for five years.
Kings County is currently home to approximately 2,875 seniors and people with disabilities who receive lifesaving care from approximately 2,416 Home Support Services (IHSS) home care providers.
At the Home Support Services Public Authority Board meeting, Xiquin Espinoza told the board that a $1.00 increase in wages or benefits would cost the county about $633,363,508 a year.
However, the county would receive more federal funds, $1.98 million, and state funds, $1.13 million, with federal and state funds covering 84% of those costs, so every dollar earned by an IHSS provider nets the county another 84 cents, Xiquin Espinoza says.
Xiquin Espinoza said similar workers in Fresno County earned 60 cents more than minimum wage plus health insurance.
She hoped that at Tuesday’s closed session to discuss the collective bargaining of the contract, the council would “make some movement”.
The board did not report on the closed session and could not be reached for comment.
“The Board of Supervisors continually says no to health care, which is a shame because we are talking about home workers, health care workers who deserve to have health insurance, just like many other workers in the county and deserve to have a decent salary. above minimum wage,” Xiquin Espinoza said.
“So today we are here to tell the Supervisory Board that they need to do better at the bargaining table and they need to come and put workers on the path to a living wage.”