Massachusetts home care workers first in nation to win $15/hour starting wage

 

Home care workers celebrate historic accord boosting caregivers of seniors, people with disabilities

BOSTON, MA – Tears of joy streaked the faces of cheering home care workers assembled in their Dorchester union hall on Thursday afternoon as a decades-long struggle for recognition and a living wage culminated in a historic moment of celebration.

According to an agreement reached in contract negotiations between the 35,000 home care workers of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the administration of recently elected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R), Massachusetts Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) are poised to become the first in the nation to achieve a statewide $15 per hour starting wage.

Upon reaching the agreement, workers called off the fifteen-hour picket they had planned to begin at the Massachusetts State House on the morning of Tuesday, June 30th. Instead, caregivers are planning a celebration of this milestone and nation-leading achievement of a $15 standard at 4:00 p.m. on the State House steps the afternoon of June 30th.

“This victory, winning $15 per hour, it means we are no longer invisible,” said Kindalay Cummings-Akers, a PCA from Springfield, MA. Cummings-Akers cares for a local senior and became a union activist at the onset of the campaign. She was also a member of the statewide PCA negotiating team that reached the agreement with the Baker administration. “This is a huge step forward not just for home care workers, but also toward ensuring the safety, dignity, and independence of seniors and people with disabilities,” she added. “We are a movement of home care workers united by the idea that dignity for caregivers and the people in our care is possible. Today, we showed the world that it is possible.”

“Massachusetts home care workers are helping to lead the Fight for $15 – and winning,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner. “We applaud Governor Baker for helping to forge this pathway to dignity for PCAs and the tens of thousands of Massachusetts seniors and people with disabilities who rely on quality home care services to remain in the community or in the workforce. As the senior population grows, the demand for home care services is increasing. By helping to ensure a living wage for these vital caregivers, Governor Baker is taking a critical step with us toward reducing workforce turnover and ensuring that Massachusetts families can access the quality home care they need for their loved ones.”

“It is a moral imperative that all homecare and healthcare workers receive $15 per hour, and Massachusetts is now a leader in this effort,” said 1199SEIU President George Gresham. “Extreme income inequality is a threat to our economy, our bedrock American values and our very democracy. With a living wage, we can ensure more compassionate care for homecare clients, and better lives for homecare workers and their families. We applaud this bold step by Governor Baker towards a better future for our communities in Massachusetts and our country overall.”

The home care workers’ journey began in 2006 when they banded together with senior and disability advocates to pass legislation giving Personal Care Attendants the right to form a union – a right they previously had been denied because of an obscure technicality in state law.

After passing the Quality Home Care Workforce Act to win that right and introduce other improvements to the home care delivery system in 2007, the PCAs voted to join 1199SEIU in 2008 through the largest union election in the history of New England. 1199SEIU is the fastest-growing and most politically active union in Massachusetts.

Prior to the legislative and organizing campaigns, PCA wages had stagnated for years at $10.84 per hour. In a series of three contracts since forming their union and through several major mobilizations, rallies, and public campaigns, the PCAs achieved a wage of $13.38 on July 1st, 2014.

Last year, the Massachusetts home care workers also united with the burgeoning Fight for $15 movement and the local #WageAction coalition, helping to kick off the $15 wage effort in the Bay State with rallies in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester on June 12th, 2014.

Home care workers took to the streets again on April 14th, 2015 as part of a massive Fight for $15 mobilization that drew thousands to the streets of Boston. That Boston-based action served as the kickoff for similar coordinated protests in more than 200 cities and 50 countries across the globe.

Caregivers say they are excited that the picket action they had planned for their current contract expiration date of June 30th can now serve as a celebration of this achievement and the spirit of cooperation that made it possible.

“This is an inspiring moment for home care workers, but also for our children – and our children’s children,” said a beaming Rosario Cabrera, a home care worker from New Bedford, MA whose children Kendra, age 14, and Daniel, age 12, were with her at the negotiating session as workers cheered the new agreement with the Baker administration. “I am so proud that I can show my children and someday tell my grandchildren that I was part of this moment in history, that I was part of a movement for social justice. We want all home care workers to win $15 per hour – and to do it first in Massachusetts fills us with pride. It is evidence of what people can do when we organize and negotiate in good faith to reach common ground.”

“Not only is this going to help the PCAs, but this is going to help us as consumers because it’s going to be easier to hire an attendant now that they can receive a dignified living wage,” said Olivia Richard, age 31, a paraplegic consumer who lives in Brighton, MA. “In the past, consumer employers have had issues with getting PCAs simply because the wage wasn’t enough. This is going to make a huge difference in our lives, as well.”

In negotiations, workers and the Baker administration reached an agreement extending the current collective bargaining agreement and establishing a commitment that all PCAs statewide will receive a starting rate of at least $15 per hour by July 1, 2018. Workers will receive an immediate .30 cent raise effective July 1, 2015, a portion of which will be paid retroactively once the contract is ratified.

A new round of discussions will then begin no later than January 1, 2016 to solidify details on the series of wage increases that will elevate PCAs to the $15 mark by the agreed upon date of July 1, 2018. Meanwhile, PCAs across the state will vote by mail ballot on ratifying the contract extension and the terms therein, including the commitment to establish a statewide minimum $15 starting rate.

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Representing more than 52,000 healthcare workers throughout Massachusetts and nearly 400,000 workers across the East Coast, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in America. Our mission is to achieve affordable, high quality healthcare for all. 1199SEIU is part of the 2.1 million member Service Employees International Union.

Advocacy Alert!

H. 1370 to prevent discrimination against parents who have disabilities has a hearing scheduled with the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday June 24, 2015 from 1-5 PM at the Statehouse, in room A-2. Please attend this hearing and be at the Statehouse on this important initiative. Stop Discrimination Against Parents with Disabilities so They Can Continue to Parent and Raise their Children!

H. 1370: An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings

Capable parents with disabilities should not be denied the right to raise their children. Parents with disabilities lose their children at alarming rates. Parents with disabilities are more likely to lose custody of their children after divorce. Removal rates of children from parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities is as high as 70—80%. Parents with sensory or physical disabilities also experience extremely high removal rates and loss of their parental rights.
H. 1370 will require courts to determine whether or not a parent’s disability causes harm to their child, by requiring written findings when courts rely on a parent’s disabilityas a negative factor in a custody or visitation determination. This law will also require courts to determine whether the harm to the child can be alleviated by adaptive equipment or supportive services for the parent.
Disability alone is not a reason: Reliance on a parent’s disability without explanation is illegal discrimination. Almost 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, adults with disabilities have increased protections in education and work life, but parents with disabilities are still at significant risk to lose their children. Decisions to terminate parental rights, remove custody or denyparenting time to a parent based solely on their disability status violates the ADA. See U. S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) joint letter finding disability rights violations by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) at: http://www.ada.gov/ma_docf_lof.pdf
Keeping families together is good for children. Extensive research shows that children fare better when they remain with their parents. But children of parents with disabilities continue to be inappropriately removed from their homes or separated from their parents without a determination of how the parent’s disability affects their ability to parent.
H. 1370 is consistent with current Massachusetts case law, federal and state anti-discrimination law, and a trend in state family law. For further information see the recent report of the National Council on Disability: “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children,” which can be found at: http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2012/Sep272012/.
H. 1370 will not cost the state money and may even save the state money by preventing unnecessary foster care placements.
For more information please contact:
Kate Nemens, Esq., MHLAC, 617-338-2345 ext. 128, knemens@mhlac.org
(See reverse for sponsorship and organizational support)

H. 1370: An Act prohibiting discrimination against adults with disabilities in family and juvenile court proceedings

Sponsored by: Representative Heroux
Co-sponsored by: Representative Arciero, Representative Ayers, Representative Balser, Representative Barber, Representative Brady, Representative Brodeur, Representative Calter, Representative Cariddi, Representative Chan, Representative Cusack, Representative Decker, Representative Dwyer, Representative Dykema, Representative Garballey, Representative Garry, Representative Gordon, Representative Kafka, Representative Keefe, Representative Khan, Representative Kuros, Representative Livingstone, Representative Mannal, Representative Markey, Representative McGonagle, Jr., Representative McKenna, Representative McMurtry, Representative Moran, Representative Murphy, Representative O’Day, Representative Provost, Representative Rogers, Representative Sannicandro, Representative Smola, Representative Stanley, Representative Story, Representative Swan, RepresentativeToomey, Jr., Representative Ultrino, Representative Vega, Representative Walsh, Representative Zlotnik, Senator DiDomenico, Senator Eldridge, Senator Fattman, Senator Gobi, Senator Joyce, Senator Lewis, Senator L’Italien

Supported by: Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD)
Epilepsy Foundation New England
The Arc of Massachusetts
Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann, Inc.
The Association for Successful Parenting (TASP)
Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)
Easter Seals Massachusetts
Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB)
Disability Policy Consortium (DPC)

Help UMASS Medical School by Taking a Brief Autism Survey and Consider Being a Part of A Citizens Jury

AUTISM INFO MATTERS
What do you think about the collection and use of information about people with autism?
Please click on the link below to share your opinion in a brief (5-10 minute), anonymous survey.

 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AUTISM_INFO_MATTERS

 

In 2013, the Massachusetts Governor’s Special Commission on Autism issued a report that included a recommendation for the state of Massachusetts to “establish and manage an integrated confidential data system among state agencies and stakeholders to track [autism] diagnosis, treatment, services, and outcomes … in order to improve coordination of care and disseminate information”.

 
This survey will gather public opinion in Massachusetts about the use of information about people with autism as part of a project at the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and in partnership with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The results of this survey will be used to help develop recommendations to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services as it moves forward in developing and refining its data systems.

 
BE PART OF A CITIZEN’s JURY
In addition to a statewide survey, this project will also hold face-to-face meetings of a group of people interested in this topic (a ‘Citizen’s Jury’) on the weekends of September 19 and October 3rd, 2015. Hotel accommodations will be provided. This is your chance to discuss develop recommendations on the many complex issues related to data use, research, and people with autism. Make sure your voice is heard! At least half of the Citizen Jury participants will be people who are on the autism spectrum.
The last page of the survey provides additional detail and sign-up information, or you can go directly to this link. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Citizen_Jury_sign-up
If you have questions about this survey, or would like the survey in another format (print or over the phone) please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Alixe Bonardi at Alexandra.Bonardi@umassmed.edu 774-455-6522.
This project is funded by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Grant number 1R21HS023577

Upcoming Public Meeting on Accessibility at the T and MBTA/BCIL Settlement Agreement June 22nd

Meeting Date- Monday June 22, 2015

Meeting Time- 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Meeting Location 10 Park Plaza, Rooms 1, 2, and 3, Boston, MA

 

Judge Patrick King will be hosting a public hearing to discuss the MBTA’s progress towards complying with the MBTA/BCIL settlement. Please come and share your feedback, questions and/or concerns.

 

This meeting space is accessible to people with disabilities. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters will be present. If you need a reasonable accommodation (such as assistive listening devices, handouts in alternate formats, etc.) and/or language assistance to fully participate, please contact Kurt Echols at MassDOT at 617-222-5254 or KEchols@mbta.com before June 15, 2015. Such accommodations will be provided free of charge.

 

 

http://www.mbta.com/about_the_mbta/public_meetings/?id=6442453543

Essex Street Classic Car Show to Benefit ILCNSCA Rescheduled due to RAIN to Sunday June 14, 2015

The North Shore Old Car Club and The Village Tavern present

Essex Street Classic Car Show

on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
Downtown Salem, MA

 

RESCHEDULED Due to upcoming Rain to Sunday, June 14th

 

to benefit The Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann
Helping people with disabilities lead independent lives. (www.ilcnsca.org)

 

ADMISSION IS FREE FOR SPECTATORS!
Live Oldies Band, D.J. and Award Ceremony
by the ‘Olde Village Fountain’

 

$10.00 entrance fee for cars 25 years or older
Pre-registration required – email Noreen at NSOCC@comcast.net,
call 978-587-3297 or visit www.NSOCC.com

 

ALL PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT THE ILCNSCA

Better Days Workshop now on Wednesday’s at North Shore CDC in Salem

We will use Better Days Curriculum to explore strategies and coping skills to help us move towards achieving life goals and gaining independence. The group is facilitated by Craig Lewis- founder of Better Days

 

Group meets on Wednesdays at 3:00 PM

 

Location: North Shore CDC 104 Lafayette St, Salem, MA
Contact: Josh Marcus at 978-687-4288 x113 or jmarcus@nilp.org
For more information go to: WWW.BETTERDAYSRECOVERY.COM

 

This peer support group is being sponsored by: The Northeast Independent Living Program, Inc. (www.nilp.org) & The Independent Living Center of the
North Shore & Cape Ann, Inc. (www.ilcnsca.org), and is one of the core activities of the Northeast Recovery Learning Community. At public events photographs
and/or video may be taken for ILCNSCA publication. We will respect all requests to not be photographed, please inform us at time of RSVP or arrival.