Hundreds of in-home care workers marched through downtown Tuesday to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting to ask for higher wages, with labor leaders’ last request set at $1 above minimum wage.
“We wanted to make sure that the county understood our members’ continued commitment to reaching a contract that reflects the hard work they do,” Service Employees International Union Local 2015 spokesman Scott Mann told City News Service.
The two sides are not yet back at the bargaining table but Mann said he would be calling to schedule a session.
On Monday, the board approved a $31.4 billion budget that did not include an increase for in-home supportive services or IHSS workers, with Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai saying her office was still analyzing the issue.
Supervisor Janice Hahn said that what might sound like a cheap and easy fix translates to millions of dollars in total, but she expressed her support for the workers and the “incredibly important work” they do.
“I’m hoping that when you come back and re-analyze their requests that we will somehow find a way to get all the way there (or) partway there,” she told Hamai.
Large groups of caregivers have turned out for the board’s meetings for many weeks and they packed the boardroom Tuesday, wearing vivid purple T-shirts printed with their union’s logo.
The caregivers help seniors and people with disabilities with bathing, meals, transportation, tracking medications and household tasks so that clients can stay in their own homes and live as independently as possible.
One IHSS worker — who said she cares for an 84-year-old woman who can’t walk on her own — challenged the board.
“I just want to invite you, all the supervisors, to come and work a day in our shoes. Then maybe you’ll realize how much we need that raise.”
The 170,000 caregivers earn $11.18 hourly and provide care to more than 206,000 clients, according to the labor union.
SEIU Local 2015 has alleged that Los Angeles County officials violated labor laws during contract talks, claiming that Hamai made a call to block a tentative agreement negotiated with the Personal Assistance Services Council, the employer of record for in-home supportive service workers.
PASC Director Greg Thompson denied those allegations to City News Service, saying no agreement had been reached and the two sides were simply discussing an initial list of demands at the meeting in question.
The county pays 16.5 cents on the dollar of IHSS workers’ pay, with state and federal agencies making up the rest. But in arguing for higher wages, labor leaders say most of the benefit flows to the county, including through tax revenues.
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