Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers have been bargaining with the State for protection, pay, and support. We’ve sent petitions, shared our stories, and sat (virtually) across from the State at the bargaining table.
Bargaining with the State this year has been very different than our contract negotiations over the last decade. The State is facing a multi-billion-dollar deficit over the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic impact. And they have already imposed furloughs – unpaid days off – on all state employees – and in negotiations with other public employees, the State is proposing wage freezes and even reductions in pay.
While others saw these wage freezes and reductions, caregivers didn’t settle, and we now have two major updates for all in-home caregivers:
- IP Contract. The arbitrator heard us and we won a wage increase of five times as much as what the State initially offered – we won an increase in wages of 3% across the two years of the contract. We also won continued affordable healthcare, credit for prior home care work experience, and paid holidays for the first time ever!
- Hazard Pay. Caregiver Hazard Pay was set to run out at the end of September – but it’s been extended! For the rest of 2020, IPs will receive an additional $2.56 per hour, and $2.54 per hour from January through March of 2021. just like with the previous Hazard Pay awards, we’re negotiating for extended Hazard Pay with all agencies next.
With the IP contract win, we still have a fight ahead of us. We need to demand that our Legislators fund our contract when they go into legislative session in January and make sure that all our clients continue to receive essential home care services. We’ll be telling lawmakers to fund our new contract, which will:
- Increase wages: We’re getting five times as much what the State initially offered equaling to an increase in wages of 3% across the two years of the contract, which works out to about 25-30 cents per year depending on what step you are at.
- Not increase healthcare premiums: Funding will cover expected healthcare inflation and our premium cost – $25 per year – will not increase, which it has not for the past decade.
- Continue providing PPE: The State has agreed to continue providing PPE – at no cost to caregivers – based on public health guidance.
- Protect caregivers with strong HADit language: Strong language in our contract will help protect caregivers from harassment, abuse, and discrimination.
- Increase PTO: An increase in the PTO accrual cap from 120 hours to 130 hours.
- Give caregivers credit for agency work: Starting on July 1, 2022, IPs will be able to get credit on the wage scale for work at private home care agencies. We’ve been fighting for this victory for years!
- Include paid holidays: Time and a half for caregivers who work on July 4 and New Year’s Day
We won a better contract because members took action – emails, calls, and social media. Now, we need to do the same to fund the contract in the legislative session and to fight for revenue.