Working Californians win the Fight for $15

April 4, 2016

Today, we took a big step forward in our fight for justice for home care workers and families. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 3 (SB 3), which creates a plan to raise California’s minimum wage incrementally to $15 by 2022, and provides all workers with paid sick days.

UDW home care providers stood with other low-wage workers and Governor Jerry Brown in LA on Monday, right before he signed the historic statewide minimum wage bill into law.

UDW home care providers stood with other low-wage workers and Governor Jerry Brown in LA on Monday, right before he signed the historic statewide minimum wage bill into law.

“We must bring balance to an unbalanced system,” said the governor minutes before he signed the bill.

For home care providers, including UDW’s 92,000 IHSS workers, this new law will have a monumental impact. Currently, we make on average just $10.71 an hour, and work without any paid sick time. Many of us struggle to provide for our families and often work even when we’re sick, because we can’t afford an unpaid day off.

“It’s tough for me to afford groceries, my prescriptions, and even gas for my car to drive to each of my clients,” said El Dorado home care worker Lisa Scott. “I’ve done this job for over a decade, and I’ve never taken a paid sick day.”

jerry brown

Today’s victory is a direct result of providers like Lisa and UDW caregivers across the state joining with other underpaid workers to demand more for ourselves and our families.

A few years back, UDW members stood alongside fast food workers, adjunct professors, retail workers, and more in the Fight for $15. We raised our voices in marches and rallies from San Diego to the Capitol. “All home care workers need to fight for $15, because we deserve better,” said UDW member Gabriel Paramo from San Diego.

And our elected leaders heard us. Late last month, our constant demands for justice caused the governor and legislators to work with unions to come up with a plan to raise millions of working families out of poverty by raising the minimum wage.

When that plan was voted on by the state Senate and Assembly last week, UDW members were there to make sure it passed. “No one who works full time should live in poverty,” said Stanislaus County UDW member Lidia Rodriguez just before the Assembly passed SB 3, and moved it on to the Senate.

When the bill finally passed the Senate and made its way to the governor’s desk, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon told naysayers, “Anyone who thinks $15 an hour is way too much should try living on it.”

UDW member Lisa Scott explaining why we need to raise the minimum wage to a crowd at the Capitol.

UDW member Lisa Scott explaining why we need to raise the minimum wage to a crowd at the Capitol.

All of our hard work culminated in a celebration today in Los Angeles, when Governor Brown, surrounded by UDW home care providers and other workers, signed this landmark legislation.

“We didn’t sit back and wait,” said Riverside County IHSS provider Kady Crick. “We fought for this! And now we’re seeing the fruits of our hard work.”

The new law will raise California’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour on January 1, 2017, and then to $11 an hour on January 1, 2018. After that, the minimum wage will increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15. Once it reaches $15, it will be raised annually with increases in inflation. The minimum wage is expected to reach $15 by 2022, if there are no pauses triggered by a slow economy or a budget deficit.

UDW member Gabriel Paramo speaking at a Fight for $15 rally in San Diego.

UDW member Gabriel Paramo speaking at a Fight for $15 rally in San Diego.

It is estimated that nearly six million workers in California, or over one-third of the workforce will receive a raise – including thousands of UDW members.

Under the new law, IHSS workers will receive one paid sick day starting July 2018, with three paid sick days to be implemented by 2022.

Although we celebrate this amazing achievement by workers, our work is not done yet. The work we do for seniors and people with disabilities deserves more than minimum wage. That’s why UDW caregivers will continue to bargain at both the county and state level for better wages and benefits NOW.

Contact your local UDW office to learn how you can join our fight for justice – http://www.udwa.org/contact.

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