For Jan. 27, 2014
Contact: Karim Olaechea
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Today, hundreds of home care workers and their clients will protest Santa Clara County’s lack of investment in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, and the low wages paid to its workers. The action will take place on the 10th Floor of 70 West Hedding.
WHO: Santa Clara County home care providers and clients.
WHAT: A sit-in outside the offices of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.
WHERE: 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose, 10th Floor
WHEN: Monday, January 27 at 3:30 PM
County treats home care workers as second-class workforce
Like other county employees, IHSS workers made concessions in the wake of the recession, being the first to do so in 2010. Whereas the county has negotiated raises for most of its employees, it is trying to keep home care concessions, made during the recession, permanent during the recovery.
“The truth is that many home care clients are poor and so are providers thanks to low county wages. It’s easier for elected officials to ignore the poor,” explained home care worker Tina Nguyen. “We’re demonstrating outside their offices, so it’s harder to ignore us.”
Santa Clara County’s 17,000 home care workers are its lowest paid employees, earning an average annual income of $11,564 in 2013. This is 65% below the self-sufficiency income threshold, as calculated based on the City of San Jose’s official living wage recommendation. The situation is so dire that many are living at or below the federal poverty line ($11,490 for an individual; $23,550 for a household of four). Many home care workers are forced to rely on federal and state welfare programs.
An aging county and a growing need
With the boomers approaching retirement, America as a whole is getting older. Today, California has the largest share of the population age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 of those seniors call Santa Clara County home. By 2030, that number is expected to double, with many of these people needing long-term and in-home care due to illness or disabilities. The average American will need 3 or more years of long-term care within their lifetime.
Growing cracks in the system
An aging population and growing need is straining Santa Clara County’s home care program. The enrollment telephone hotline centers are understaffed; clients and providers are put on hold for an average of 1 ½ hours and up to four hours. Another barrier to access is that in a diverse county that boasts more than 100 languages spoken, the call centers only provide support in three languages.
Home care workers will keep fighting for solutions
The contract negotiation with the city is an opportunity to address some of the long-term needs of the program. Home care workers will continue their campaign until the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agrees to pay fair wages and improve the IHSS system for our growing senior and disabled population. To follow the Quality Care @ Home campaign and keep up to date with our latest action, visit: website.
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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org