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December 23, 2009 > Homecare program, a California priority

Homecare program, a California priority

Submitted By Scott Mann

SEIU ULTCW (United Long Term Care Workers' Union) announced on December 17 that Alameda County In-Home Supportive Service (IHSS) providers have overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new contract with the County that adds multiple layers of protection to the current homecare provider wage and benefit levels and grants additional contract improvements.

"As several Counties are joining the Governor's desire to slash homecare provider wages to as low as minimum wage, Alameda County sends a clear message to state legislators and other county supervisors that we must all maintain our commitment to our seniors, people with disabilities and those who care for them," said Brenda Jackson, SEIU ULTCW Bargaining Team member.

"The homecare program provides a vital lifeline service to thousands of low-income seniors and people with disabilities," said Alice Lai-Bitker, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. "Even in the most difficult of financial times, the homecare program must remain a county and state priority."

The new contract maintains an hourly wage of $11.50 and ensures the County's contribution toward caregiver wages and benefits is also maintained if, for any reason, the Courts rule the state can cut its contribution to minimum wage. If that should happen, Alameda County homecare wages would not drop below $10.20 per hour. Additionally, the new contract assists workers in keeping their health benefits for five months, if state cuts place them below the eligibility threshold.

"The need for the homecare program does not change based on the state's budget. In fact, the need will grow as our population ages," said Laphonza Butler, Trustee of SEIU ULTCW. "This contract helps ensure these services continue and that caregivers can feed their families while continuing this valuable work."

"Alameda County is dedicated to ensuring homecare services are not interrupted due to the state's fiscal crisis," said Alameda County Supervisor and Board VP Nate Miley. "After all, the homecare program not only provides a vital service to low-income seniors and people with disabilities, it does so while saving taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Why would we ever cut such a program?"

The IHSS program (more commonly known as 'homecare') serves approximately 17,000 low-income Alameda County seniors and people with disabilities at a fraction of the cost of institutional care. Caregivers assist IHSS recipients with their most basic daily tasks such as bathing and hygiene, meal preparation to prevent malnutrition, domestic chores that help prevent falls and ensuring they keep doctors' appointments and remember to take medication.

The new contract takes effect immediately and expires September 2013.

For more information, please visit www.SEIU-ULTCW.org

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