IHSS providers in Riverside and San Diego attend first ever state-level bargaining meeting

bargaining
Last week, IHSS providers in Riverside and San Diego came together in San Diego for our first round of contract negotiations with the state. We sat down with representatives from the California Department of Human Resources, who represent the IHSS Statewide Authority, to take the first step in a multi-step process toward a new contract that will cover both counties.

This meeting comes after our initial meeting in June when Riverside County providers met with state representatives to prepare for state-level bargaining. San Diego County moved into the process soon after and Orange County providers will join us in 2016.
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Before the move to state-level bargaining, we were fighting the often uphill battle for better wages and benefits at the county level. “As far as negotiations with the county, we aren’t getting anywhere,” explained San Diego homecare provider LaTanya Cline. “The county isn’t worried about homecare. With statewide bargaining, we have a brighter outlook. I feel more positive.”

Wages in some counties are nearly three dollars lower than others, and many providers are negotiating with counties that don’t view the IHSS program as a priority. And when IHSS is not a priority, seniors and people with disabilities are put at risk.

The hope for members of the bargaining team is that state-level bargaining will lead to better investment in homecare in all three counties. “I feel more powerful,” said San Diego County homecare provider Noreen Woods. “I joined the bargaining team to make sure we have a voice. Our priority is better pay, and to keep the program funded.”

The road to this historic first round of bargaining began in 2012, when SB 1036, a bill heavily supported by UDW was signed into law. Among other things, the bill allowed eight counties – including Riverside, Orange, and San Diego – to transition from county to state-level bargaining.

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Members of the bargaining team are excited and ready to take on this new process: “It’s a privilege to bargain with the state,” said Riverside County IHSS provider Rosa Beltran. “I joined the bargaining team because I think we can make a difference for all of our fellow homecare providers.”

Fellow Riverside County homecare provider Marcus Haynes echoed Rosa’s sentiments: “I’m here not just for myself but for all homecare workers,” he said. “For bargaining, my mind is set on winning. Our team is very strong, and we will win. I don’t want people to starve while they are doing great work, God’s work.”

The ultimate goal is that all counties come together to bargain with the state for better wages and benefits for us all. This year UDW sponsored AB 211, a bill that would have moved all IHSS counties from county to state-level bargaining. For now, the legislation has been put on hold as we work toward an agreeable plan with the state.

“We want to come together as one unit, not 21 separate counties,” said San Diego District Chair and bargaining team member Brooks Ashby. “We are stronger if we unite. We have to go to statewide bargaining to fight for healthcare, paid sick leave, and vacation time so we can provide better services.”

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Paid for by United Domestic Workers of America Action Fund, sponsored by United Domestic Workers of America. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

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