FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11, 2015
Khanh Weinberg (408) 921-0098
HOME CARE PROVIDERS CHALLENGE GOV. JERRY BROWN TO KEEP THE PROMISE OF EQUALITY FOR ALL WORKERS
In-Home Workers for Elderly, People with Disabilities in Limbo as Administration Delays Overtime Protections
OAKLAND, CA – Demanding equality for all workers, legislators, clergy, seniors and community groups joined caregivers at multiple rallies across the state today, escalating pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown to keep his promise to treat all workers equally under the law and allow In-Home Supportive Services providers to earn overtime pay after a 40-hours work week.
Events were held in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Ana, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and Oakland, highlighting the critical work that in-home workers provide to the elderly and people with disabilities.
“Our work is not visible, but it’s absolutely vital to the well-being of our clients,” said Virginia Duran, a home care provider in San Jose. “It’s demoralizing that the governor is sending us the message that we don’t deserve the same treatment as others. The fact is California can’t move forward when we are leaving 400,000 workers behind.”
As part of the 2014-15 budget agreement, Governor Brown agreed to implement new federal rules that finally brought in-home care under the Federal Labor Standards Act, after 70 years of unfair exclusion. But in January – two weeks after the new overtime rules were set to take effect – the Administration announced it would halt implementation of the promised overtime rates after a federal judge delayed the federal FLSA rules due to a legal challenge from out-of-state, for-profit home care agencies.
Nothing in the federal ruling prevents the Brown Administration from moving forward with its commitment; in fact the funds are already in the budget and cannot be used for other purposes.
“Governor Brown is choosing to discriminate against home care workers by using a delay in federal action as an excuse to rip away the hard-earned right of overtime pay from hard-working caregivers,” said Earnie Spencer, of Fairfield, who provides around-the-clock care for her husband who recently suffered a stroke. “We are here today and at state offices throughout California to urge the governor to treat us with respect. I can tell you first hand that being a home care worker is a real job and it deserves the same real protections as every other job.”
Hundreds of home caregivers, joined by community groups, pointed out the injustice in the Administration decision by filing wage theft claims at State Department of Industrial Relations offices in cities across the state today. Their action illustrates how home care providers remain unprotected by the basic labor laws that apply to nearly every other worker in California.
“To deny basic protections like overtime to home care providers is wrong,” said Juan Antonio Molina, of San Francisco. “It not only hurts workers like me, but it hurts the elderly and people with disabilities who depend on us, and it hurts the millions of families that will count on us in the future.”
Governor Brown’s action comes when California should be strengthening the home care workforce, not weakening it. Home care workers are an increasingly important part of California’s healthcare delivery system – making sure medications are properly taken, preventing injury, and recognizing potential health problems before they require a hospital visit. As California’s baby boomers begin to retire, the state will need more and more people to take on this challenging work. By refusing them basic benefits such as overtime, California is telling potential new home care providers to look elsewhere for work.
Today’s actions come after workers last week launched a vigil that continues daily outside Gov. Brown’s Capitol Office in Sacramento.
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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