In-home care workers, union members, and seniors rallied outside the State building in downtown Oakland on Wednesday chanting, “Overtime is overdue,” demanding that Gov. Jerry Brown keep his promise of overtime pay for workers who provide in-home support to their clients.
The Oakland action was part of statewide events that took place this week from Sacramento to Santa Barbara and San Diego, highlighting the work that in-home workers provide to the elderly and people with disabilities.
In the 2014-15 state budget, Gov. Brown agreed to implement new federal rules that placed in-home care workers under the Federal Labor Standards Act, which translates to overtime pay after a 40-hour workweek. The new rules were to go into effect by January.
However, those rules have not been enacted, with the administration citing a “legal challenge from out-of-state, for-profit home care agencies.” According to a statement from unions representing home care workers, the federal ruling does not prevent the administration from implementing overtime rates.
“It’s time California moves forward and ends the second-class status of caregivers by fulfilling its promise for equal- ity and for protection of all workers,” said David Werlin, speaking at the rally. Werlin is Director of Member Strength for Northern California of the SEIU-ULTCW union that represents 180,000 home care workers in California.
“Our work is not visible, but it’s absolutely vital to the well-being of our clients,” said Virginia Duran, a home care provider in San Jose.
Over the past 18 months, Duran has cared for her 88-year-old mother who has gone through multiple surgeries in the past year. Duran told the Post she is paid for just 53 hours a month, but she often works around-the-clock to assist her mother who has limited mobility – having had surgery on both her knees and shoulder – and is on a restricted diet.
“Our clients count on us,” said home care provider Paula Saulsby from San Francisco County.
“To deny basic protections like overtime to homecare providers is wrong. It not only hurts workers like me, but it hurts the elderly and the disabled who depend on us, and it hurts millions of families that will count on us in the future,” she said.
“Every hour of our work is critical to our clients, and its time that Brown recognize that and treat us with the dignity and respect that we deserve,” Saulsby said.
Hundreds of workers also filed wage theft claims this week across the state to demonstrate their need for basic protections under labor laws.
On Tuesday, Feb. 24, Bay Area workers will take their message to Sacramento. They will load buses at 6 a.m. to rally at the Capitol and demand that Gov. Brown keep his promise.
For more information, call Ken Chambers at (510) 701-1588. For Spanish speakers, call (510) 701-3219; for Chinese speakers, call (510) 326- 2767.