Advocates ask to bring higher wages to care givers

Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- Clad in purple, demonstrators met outside the Humboldt County Courthouse this morning to demand higher pay for in-home healthcare providers. The group could be heard chanting “Si, se pueden!” Spanish for ‘Yes, we can!’

SEIU Demonstrators gather outside Humboldt County Courthouse (Eureka, Ca.)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015 has started contract negotiations with the county. This morning, demonstrators spoke to the board of supervisors. Their goal by and large was to present the findings of a UC Berkely report on “California’s Home Care Crisis,” and in so doing earn support from local leadership for their cause.

Speakers address Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (Eureka, Ca.)

The report was assembled by Sarah Thomason and Annette Bernhardt, from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. It discusses the growing demand for home care, which changes largely with the size of the aging population. “Low wages make it difficult to recruit enough workers to meet this rapidly growing demand.” The report says.

The report also states the median wages for home care workers in California was more than three dollars less than the average for all professions in 2015. It also states, home care workers are twice as lively to live in low-income households.

“A Call to Action,” Demonstrators ask for higher wages for California In-Home Caregivers (Eureka, Ca.,)

It’s that information, and personal experience that drew more than a dozen demonstrators to the courthouse.  Many of the people holding signs, are in-home care givers themselves.

“We receive minimum wage, but we do more than minimum wage work. It’s not a living wage for people.” Vivian Deniston, the vice president of Northern California SEIU Local 2015 says.

For her, and many like her, becoming a care giver was a matter of chance.

“I have an adult disabled daughter.” She says. “She is my heart, and some day I’m not going to be here to take care of her. A stranger will be doing this work for my child someday so I want this program to be better. I want there not to be a shortage of workers. I want to know that she’s going to be well taken care of.”