Protest dismantling of home health care

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – More than 1,000 home health care providers and recipients gathered Jan. 13 outside the State Capitol to answer the call to battle against Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger and the vicious cuts he proposes as a part of solving California’s budget problems. The protest was organized by SEIU Local 250 and the AFSCME home care workers department.

Speakers called on home care workers, clients and their families, and the concerned public to join demonstrations at the Capitol, visit senators and Assembly members in their offices, phone and write letters to elected officials, and mobilize other supporters to protest the cuts.

The governor’s proposals to dismantle the home care industry are simple and brutal. None of the poor is spared – sick children, the disabled, seniors, those on welfare – and none of the rich is burdened, in keeping with the governor’s demand for no increase in taxes.

Schwartzenegger’s proposals include:

• Cut home care wages to $6.75 an hour and eliminate benefits. Until recently, home care wages were the minimum $5.25 an hour without benefits, until SEIU Local 250 won benefits and a raise to $9.50 an hour.

• Eliminate the residual program which covers parents taking care of disabled children as well as spouses caring for spouses.

• Eliminate the law creating an Employer of Record (the Public Authority). Without an entity with which to negotiate, the home care worker becomes an independent contractor at the mercy of cost-cutters.

• Eliminate the Advisory Committees of home care workers and their clients.

• Eliminate funding for a worker who lives with a family member or consumer who needs 24/7 care. These recipients would be forced into nursing homes at an annual cost of $40,000, instead of $9,000 a year for in-home care.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.