Tuesday, Los Angeles-based In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers shut down the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing in an escalation of their insistence that the Board invest in home care providers and put long-term care workers on a path to a $20/hour minimum wage floor. 

At the meeting, more than a dozen IHSS providers, care recipients, and community supporters spoke during the public testimony to share the day-to-day challenges they experience due to their pay. Members reiterated the joint issues of low wages and lack of available care providers that have resulted in an urgent staffing crisis affecting the health, autonomy, and well-being of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities throughout the county. 

After SEIU Local 2015 President-elect Arnulfo De La Cruz wrapped up her testimony, care providers and recipients erupted into a unified “Time for $20” chant. The supervisors said they would close the meeting if the chanting didn’t end. After a second round of chanting that the Board ultimately could not stop, the supervisors closed the meeting early. 

SEIU 2015 members and leadership continued their call for living wages in a demonstration outside the Board’s chambers.  

“As the need for long-term care providers in Los Angeles continues to grow, local government officials must act now to ensure that we can meet the needs of homebound seniors and people with disabilities living in our community,” said De La Cruz.

“November is National Family Caregiver Month and this annual observance represents the perfect opportunity for the Board of Supervisors to finally recognize in-home caregivers for the vital work they do every day by establishing a $20/hour minimum wage. Instituting this wage floor will make it possible for care providers in the region to make ends meet during this challenging economic period, including helping them put food on their tables during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.”

More than 30% of IHSS providers in California are forced to work multiple jobs because the pay from in-home caregiving is not enough to make ends meet. 

The county’s rapidly aging population has resulted in significant increases in the number of vulnerable individuals in need of home care, with about 10,000 new consumers requiring IHSS care every year. Unless these become better, higher-paying jobs, care providers will continue to leave this profession for fast food, warehouse, retail, and other jobs which have started paying substantially more.

“Today, our members once again showed the L.A. County Board of Supervisors what their inaction means for both care recipients and care providers. Too many individuals who want to make a career out of skilled caregiving are being forced out of the industry to pursue jobs with higher pay in the fast food, warehouse, and retail sectors,” said SEIU Local 2015 Executive Vice President-elect Carmen Roberts. 

“And to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, all women, make no mistake that this is an urgent women’s issue that must be addressed. Almost 90% of care providers are women, and we make it possible for other women—who most often take on caregiving duties in the home—to get to work to provide for their families. We are determined to do whatever it takes to make sure that the Board passes a $20 living wage floor.”

Research shows that increasing the pay of caregivers would not only better support these frontline heroes, but also result in positive downstream economic impacts in our communities. IHSS is one of the best financial investments a county can make. Every $1 the county invests in the IHSS program brings as much as $5 in additional contributions into the local economy from State and Federal governments. 

According to research from Beacon Economics, an increase to a $20 per hour wage floor for IHSS Caregivers in Los Angeles County would create nearly 12,000 new jobs, generate more than $708M in additional labor income, and support an additional $2.1B in economic output. 

Tuesday’s action marks the latest in a series of actions recently taken by SEIU Local 2015 to bring attention to the crisis facing the broader long-term care community, both in private homes and in nursing homes in California, in support of the “Time for $20” campaign. 

For more information about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.

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