Santa’s Helpers Storm Board Chambers, Get Arrested in Fight for $15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 9, 2014

Contact:
Melissa McKenzie 714.614.1190
Khanh Weinberg 408.921.0098

Santa’s Helpers Storm Board Chambers, Get Arrested in Fight for $15
Home care providers demand a path out of poverty

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Last week’s massive wave of demonstrations led by fast food and home care workers reached San Mateo County today, as hundreds of county home care providers donned Santa hats and sang holiday carols in their Fight for $15.

Protesters marched into the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors’ meeting where they gave passionate speeches about the county’s need to provide home care workers with a livable wage. They then stood and linked arms in front of the boardroom to demand their voices be heard.

“I need you to all understand that this is not just my job,” said Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the San Mateo County Central Labor Council Shelley Kessler, “this is something that I sincerely believe in… The fact is that $12 and some change is not enough to survive on in this county. People are taking two and three jobs in order to make ends meet because you can’t find the will to direct your county manager and the budget office of this county to use the resources that you have available to you.” Kessler was one of 13 individuals arrested in the boardroom today.

After shutting down the meeting, home care providers took to the streets, continuing their demonstration, singing for a “living wage for all” and chanting “hey, hey, ho, ho, Grinch Maltbie has to go” as they made their way to the intersection of Veterans Boulevard and Brewster Avenue to shut down traffic.

Struggling on wages that have not increased since 2007, San Mateo County’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) providers currently earn $11.50 an hour, or 60% below the self-sufficiency wage needed to live in the region, calculated at $17.33 an hour.

“Today we are continuing our Fight for $15,” said San Mateo County home care provider Lenise Devers. “Many home care providers have to choose between paying our rent and putting food on the table. Even though we’re singing carols and spreading cheer today, we are here with a message: Home care providers are worth more and this county needs to show leadership by providing home care workers with a wage they can live on.”

With more than $300 million in budget surplus, the county can invest 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 home care providers as second-tier citizens.

Of the 5,000 IHSS workers, approximately 3 in 4 are women, and the majority of the workforce are people of color. The county’s last and final offer would still fail to move the care providers out of poverty to a level of self-sufficiency.

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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.

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