Santa’s helpers ready to face arrest in fight against poverty wages

Media Advisory
Dec. 8, 2014

Melissa McKenzie
Khanh Weinberg

Santa’s helpers ready to face arrest in fight against poverty wages
Home Care’s “Fight for $15” continues with civil disobedience Dec. 9

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – ‘Tis the season for a living wage. The “Fight for $15” movement gets a lift from Santa’s helpers on Tuesday, Dec. 9, as hundreds of San Mateo County home care workers and allies will march – and carol – in civil disobedience to highlight their fight for dignity wages.

Faced with a final offer from the county that would still leave them well-below self-sufficiency living standards, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers – who are prohibited by law from going on strike – will attempt to stop the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors from holding its Tuesday public meeting by donning holiday hats and singing in protest for a living wage.

WHO: SEIU Local 521 home care providers, joined by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Filipino Community Center; Josie Camacho, of Alameda Labor Council; and others
WHAT: A civil disobedience action to call for a living wage for home care workers
WHEN: 9 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 9
WHERE: San Mateo County Courthouse, Board of Supervisors Chambers and surrounding streets, 400 County Center, Redwood City
VISUALS: Hundreds in Santa hats, antlers, singing classic holiday tunes (with a twist) in the street

With more than $300 million in budget surplus, the county can invest this giving season in the home care program that allows the elderly and people with disabilities to live with dignity at home. Yet, after negotiating fair contracts with its two largest employee unions, San Mateo County continues to treat its 5,000 home care providers as second-tier citizens, whose $11.50 an hour pay has not changed since 2007.

Home care providers take care of the county’s most vulnerable; yet, they make 60 percent below the living wage for San Mateo County. In a field dominated by women, most of whom are women of color, the board of supervisors has failed its core constituents by not providing IHSS workers a wage that reflects the $17.33 per hour cost of living in the county.


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

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