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Homecare Workers Outraged by Proposed Cuts, Wage Reductions
Date:5/16/2008

Pledge to Save Vital Services for Frail Seniors and People With Disabilities

OAKLAND, Calif., May 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of homecare workers across the state are outraged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to hours of service, wages and benefits, which would force some of California's most vulnerable workers and the people they serve deeper into poverty. They pledged to save these vital services for seniors and people with disabilities from Schwarzenegger's budget ax.

"Every year, the governor tries to balance the state budget by slashing homecare services and cutting wages and benefits for their low-paid caregivers. We're outraged and we're more determined than ever to beat back these cuts and protect the people we serve," said Sal Rosselli, president of United Healthcare Workers-West, which represents about 50,000 homecare workers. "It's unconscionable for the budget to be balanced on the backs of California's most vulnerable residents."

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provides personal care and domestic services to more than 408,000 seniors and disabled people, enabling them to live in their homes rather than in nursing homes. The program is funded by federal, state and county governments.

In his most recent budget proposal, Schwarzenegger advocated "permanently eliminating domestic and related services" to 84,000 people or 20 percent of all IHSS recipients. Those services include preparing food, doing laundry, grocery shopping and other necessary assistance. These consumers would lose almost one-third of their hours of assistance every month and a significant number would be forced into nursing homes. This expensive and unnecessary move would dramatically reduce their quality of life.

The governor also wants to slash matching funds for IHSS wages and benefits back to the state minimum wage, which would pressure counties to reduce total compensation for homecare workers from as much as $12.10 an hour in some counties to $8.60 an hour. This is the third time in his tenure the governor has proposed cutting those funds. Homecare consumers and caregivers defeated similar measures in 2004 and 2005.

"Every day I care for a blind man and a woman with mental disabilities. They're able to live alone, somewhat independently, with my help. Both my consumers would be doomed without services," said Rosie Byers, a homecare worker in San Francisco. "They would both be devastated if they were forced into nursing homes because of these cuts."

The 150,000-member SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West is the largest and fastest-growing hospital and healthcare union in the western United States and represents every type of healthcare worker, including nurses, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high-quality healthcare for all.

CONTACT:

Kim Curtis

cell 510-206-8248

email kcurtis@seiu-uhw.org


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SOURCE SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West
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