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Home Care Workers, Seniors, Disabled From Across Massachusetts to Protest Poverty Wages, Lack of Health Insurance, Wednesday, June 18 at Office of Governor Deval Patrick
Date:6/17/2008

Home care crisis escalates as state continues to reject appeal for health insurance and meaningful wage increase for caregivers of seniors, disabled

"The change we need recognizes health as a public good. All people should have health care that they can count on and afford."

- Deval Patrick, 2008 State Democratic Convention speech

(Video on http://devalpatrick.com/)

BOSTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was issued today by 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East:

WHO: Home care workers, seniors, people with disabilities, 1199SEIU

WHEN: On Wednesday, June 18, participants will gather at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House at Noon before marching on the offices of Governor Deval Patrick and his Secretary of Administration and Finance, Leslie Kirwin.

WHAT: Protesting the denial of health insurance for Massachusetts Personal Care Attendant (PCA) home care workers, poverty wages for home care workers, and high turnover rates (40%-60%) which are making seniors and people with disabilities suffer as they struggle to find and keep the care they need to live independently and safely at home, instead of in institutions.

A special bound book entitled "Letters of Hope" including hand-written appeals to the Governor for help from hundreds of home care workers and those they care for will be delivered to the Governor's office as home care workers and those in their care pray and sing for the administration to hear their message of hope.

WHERE: Massachusetts State House, 3rd Floor, Office of Governor Deval Patrick

WHY: At issue is the state's rejection of an appeal for health insurance and a meaningful wage increase for PCAs, home caregivers who help seniors and people with disabilities live safely and independently in their own homes and communities, instead of institutions.

In contract negotiations, the administration has rejected the possibility of health insurance coverage for PCAs, including those who do not qualify for the state's new healthcare Connector plans. Meanwhile, the state has been encouraging employers statewide to step up and cover more of the health insurance costs for their employees.

The state has also rejected an appeal from the caregivers for limited sick and vacation time, of which they currently have none. Currently, caregivers are forced to go to work even when significantly ill, a problem jeopardizing not only their health, but also that of the consumers they care for.

In July 2007, the Governor postponed an expected wage increase for the workers. In November 2007, 22,000 Personal Care Attendants voted overwhelmingly to join 1199SEIU in the largest union election in the history of New England.

The state's rejection of the home care workers' appeal for health insurance and a meaningful wage increase comes during a period of crisis-level turnover for the state home care system, as between 40% to 60% of all PCAs leave the profession and the residents they care for every year.

As the existing workforce begins to buckle, the demand for home care services in Massachusetts is increasing. As baby boomers age, the senior population in Massachusetts is projected to more than double in size by 2025.

Statewide, approximately 22,000 personal care attendants currently work for no benefits whatsoever, including no health insurance, no sick days, no holidays, and no paid vacation. PCAs receive a flat wage rate of $10.84, regardless of how many years they have been on the job.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest healthcare workers' union in Massachusetts. With over 300,000 members in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Washington D.C., 1199SEIU is the largest healthcare Local in the world. The mission of our union is to improve and expand quality patient care, to protect and improve the lives of our members and our families, and to work in solidarity with working people in our communities and around the world. 1199SEIU is part of the 2 million member Service Employees International Union, the largest and fastest growing union in the world.


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SOURCE 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
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