Hundreds of home care workers jammed the chambers of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 4, one more escalation in a series of protests that have become a regular feature at the board meetings.
Their message remains the same: Our community needs a stronger IHSS system and workers need a fair contract and better pay.
The night before, the South Bay Labor Council had passed a Solidarity Resolution in support of the Quality Care @ Home campaign. Later in the evening the county called an emergency meeting and finally (though not sufficiently) moved on the question of wages.
A week prior, dozens of workers had taken part in a sit-in demonstration outside the supervisors’ offices. This prompted Supervisor Dave Cortese to address the crowd and pledge his support for their cause.
This week’s action featured Bob Sigala, representing the California Alliance of Retired Americans, and Harriet Wolf, a community leader with PACT (People Acting in Community Together). Both spoke in solidarity with home care workers and energized the crowd.
Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521, told the board: “This board is not taking care of the people who care for us. Home care and personal care aides are among America’s fastest growing workforce, they are also among our most poorly paid.”
The action concluded with Luisa leading participants in protest chants as the group marched out.
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Similar to fast-food workers who are waging a campaign to earn decent wages, Santa Clara County’s more-than-17,000 home care providers barely make enough to get by.
Their work is not very visible to the public, but thousands of lives are entrusted in their care and their services allow clients to live independently, and with dignity, at home.
The state’s population is aging and the need for in-home care will only grow in the future. Today, Santa Clara County has about 200,000 individuals who are over 65 years old. By 2030, that’s going to double to be more than 1 in 5 residents. Santa Clara County has identified transportation and home health to be two of the most pressing needs for this segment of the population.