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Contemptible: Governor, State Officials Defy Court Order to Stop Home Care Cuts, Says SEIU

OAKLAND, Calif., July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more than 200,000 California home care workers, filed a motion with U.S. District Court to hold the State in contempt for illegally cutting the wages of In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers by $2 per hour in defiance of an earlier court order.

"It's unbelievable that the State feels it can simply ignore a U.S. District Court ruling," said Dave Regan, SEIU Executive Vice President and Trustee of SEIU UHW. "It's this type of blatant arrogance that has placed California in the fiscal crisis it's currently in. The state must comply or face the penalties just as any California resident would be forced to do."

On June 25, 2009, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the $2 per hour reduction in the State's maximum contribution toward IHSS wages, which was scheduled to take place on July 1, violated the federal Medicaid statute, and she enjoined the State from implementing the state budget law requiring the reduction. Now, State officials are defying the order by refusing to rescind the reduced pay rates put in place solely because of the reduced State contribution.

Since Judge Wilken's ruling, numerous counties have submitted requests to reinstate IHSS worker pay but State officials are claiming that they need 60 days to process the requests even though the State processed requests to reduce pay because of the unlawful State law in as little as one week, and even gave informal approval to such requests in as little as one day. The union's new motion asks the court to hold the State in contempt (with a $500,000 fine per day starting July 10) or to issue a more specific injunction that ensures continuation of pre-July 1 wage rates.

"Instead of honoring the court's decision and keeping our pay as it is, the State is dragging its feet, making up excuses, and placing this lifeline service in jeopardy," said Mary Harms, a Contra Costa County Home care worker and SEIU member. "That is just wrong."

Several counties applied for earlier cuts based on the State budget's original reduction in contributions toward wages. The following counties have already informed the State that they want to keep the pre-July 1 pay rates based on the Court's ruling: Alameda, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, and Yolo. Calaveras, San Benito, and Solano Counties are planning to inform the State of their intention to keep the pre-July 1 pay rates based on Court's ruling. Riverside's intentions remain unclear. Only Fresno has said that it will still try to reduce pay.

SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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