My son is the spark that flames my passion for fair wages and benefits

By Roxanne Bender

Right now, IHSS providers in El Dorado County are standing together to demand a contract that honors the value of our work. We are paid minimum wage – $9 per hour – and haven’t had a raise in six years.

My name is Roxanne Bender, and I am a homecare provider in El Dorado County. My full-time job is taking care of my son, Jacob, who is 38-years-old and dependent on me for all of his needs. From feeding him, to bathing him, to transporting him – I am there for him no matter what.

In our home, my IHSS wages are our primary source of income. My husband and I try our best to pick up landscaping work, but the industry has been very unpredictable lately. Our family needs things like a new van to transport Jacob to and from doctors’ appointments, and access to healthier food for him – but minimum wage has made it nearly impossible.

Homecare workers throughout California are paid far too little for the life-saving work that we do. Yet each county is actually reimbursed by the state for our wages through a dedicated funding source that exists to make IHSS affordable. That’s why in some UDW counties where lawmakers support homecare, providers make as much as $11.50/hour. But where I live, we make minimum wage.

That’s why El Dorado providers have been working tirelessly to win better wages and benefits by attending weekly County Board of Supervisors meetings and getting the word out in our community. It makes sense to invest in homecare, because it means not only saving and protecting the lives of our seniors and people with disabilities, but it also means saving the county money and putting over $1.3 million into our local economy.

But instead of doing what’s right, the BOS continues to underfund the program – driving providers deeper into poverty and putting our clients at risk.

My son Jacob is the reason I fight for justice for homecare. Above all, I want to ensure that he always has access to everything he needs. I do this by rallying for better wages so that I can afford the special diet he requires; lobbying at the Capitol to end the 7% cut to IHSS hours, so I can ensure that he receives the quality care he needs; and speaking out at Board of Supervisors’ meetings, so that our elected leaders know it is their responsibility to put people first.

None of us can do it alone. In El Dorado County, homecare providers and our clients have shown our solidarity at every Board of Supervisors’ meeting. We testify about how our unfair wages are hurting those who rely on in-home care, as well as our communities and loved ones.

We go back to the bargaining table on June 10th and we need your help. We need our community members to call the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors at 1-888-981-9704, and tell them to PUT PEOPLE FIRST by fully funding the IHSS program.

For more information on the El Dorado County contract fight, and ways to get involved, call our local office at 916-751-2450.

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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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