Monday, June 8, 2009

Taking Care Of Business

When it comes to union business, there are generally two approaches to getting things done. One is to actually work with the decision-makers and get results that way. The other is to file lawsuits all over the place, and then try to take credit for the work of other people when things apparently go your way.

The former UHW, now populating the higher echelons of NUHW, is using the former approach and is getting results by defending IHSS programs, first in San Francisco and now most recently in Sacramento...
After weeks of grassroots advocacy by National Union of Healthcare Workers, IHSS Public Authority staff will recommend budget proposal to preserve 100% of current wages and benefits for homecare providers despite deep cuts from the Governor.

Supervisor Roger Dickinson joined Sacramento homecare providers and advocates today in announcing a breakthrough victory to protect homecare services in Sacramento County. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Public Authority staff will recommend a budget package to preserve homecare providers' wages at $10.40 per hour with all current health benefits.

The proposal is the result of weeks of grassroots advocacy by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) to maintain and improve wages and benefits for homecare providers using federal stimulus funds, and the Board of Supervisors is expected to approve it in a vote on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of a victory last week by NUHW in San Francisco, where Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration proposed a budget for 2009-10 that uses a costing model proposed by NUHW to maintain San Francisco County providers' wages at $11.54 per hour.

“I thank the National Union of Healthcare Workers for their work to achieve this solution to save IHSS wages and benefits,” said Supervisor Dickinson. “I believe that Sacramento County is ready to protect vital services for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as providers’ wages, with no added cost to the budget.”

IHSS is a homecare service funded jointly by state, county, and federal funds that allows frail seniors and people with disabilities to live with dignity in their own homes, rather than in more expensive institutions. The funding solution proposed by NUHW allows counties to maintain or raise homecare providers' wages and benefits despite Gov. Schwarzenegger’s devastating cuts to state homecare funding—largely by back-filling the loss of state funds with additional federal Medicaid funds available to counties through the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.

Frances Gracechild, Executive Director of Sacramento-based disability advocacy group Resources for Independent Living, said the wage protection would also protect the quality of care delivered to residents.

“The workers and leaders of NUHW have raised wages for providers in Sacramento and around the state, and shown that when providers earn livable wages and benefits they can provide consistent, higher-quality care,” Gracechild said. “NUHW’s victories to protect homecare services in Sacramento and San Francisco are great news for all of us who rely on the vital care homecare workers provide.”

Bill Camp, Executive Secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, called NUHW’s advocacy proof of the strength of the 18,000 homecare workers in Sacramento County.

“The leaders of NUHW were so crucial in helping homecare providers win their union in the first place,” Camp said. “And today they are helping homecare workers win again, and protect their wages and their jobs even in a time of economic turmoil. NUHW and Sacramento County are delivering economic security for providers in Sacramento and hope for providers across the state.”

Ella Raiford, a Sacramento homecare provider and elected leader of NUHW, said uniting with other healthcare workers gave homecare providers the voice they needed to protect their wages.

“Our victory shows that we can protect our wages when we’re united with Kaiser workers and hospital workers in a strong, democratic union,” Raiford said. “That union is NUHW. At the same time SEIU-UHW is spending millions trying to divide us, we’ve been meeting with Supervisors and the Public Authority to advance a real plan to preserve funding.”

NUHW’s recommendations to protect and improve homecare services have detailed the specific changes in IHSS funding that would result from the combination of state cuts and federal enhancements, and explained how each county could maintain and improve workers' wages and benefits at no additional cost.
This isn't just a Q-and-A session - this was an actual news conference at which Supervisor Dickinson showed up and spoke at the NUHW lectern...

In order to foster this type of agreement, a framework has been proposed by the NUHW leadership - the people with actual experience in working with the elected powers-that-be - and such examples can be found here, here and here.

Not surprisingly, there are no Zombie UHW reps to be found in the above photos, nor are there any concrete IHSS funding plans to be found on the 'tubes that were generated by Zombie UHW or the Purple Plague. Of course, this set of inconvenient facts does not stop Zombie UHW from trying to take credit for someone else's actions, though...
The members of the SEIU UHW bargaining team representing homecare workers in Sacramento County are lauding an agreement with the County that will guarantee current wages and healthcare benefits in the face of economic distress. County officials have worked with the union to offset losses in local revenue with federal stimulus funds to assure no loss of pay for homecare workers.

"This is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when our union and local officials work together," said SEIU UHW bargaining committee member and homecare worker Martha Cobos. "This decision means that those who care for society's most vulnerable will be able to keep doing this important work."

The current wage for homecare workers in Sacramento County is $10.40 an hour, plus $.70 for benefits. All across the state, politicians - including the governor - have threatened to slash homecare pay and benefits to make up for losses in state and local tax revenue. SEIU UHW has maintained that the federal stimulus money is designed to offset exactly this kind of deficit, and Sacramento officials agree.

"This is the model for all county officials and the state government to follow," said SEIU UHW Trustee Eliseo Medina. "The wrong place to cut costs is on the backs of homecare workers, for both moral and financial reasons. Remember, homecare saves vital taxpayer money that would otherwise be spent on more costly institutional care and unemployment for displaced workers."

In another positive development for County homecare workers, County officials have agreed to work to settle a new contract for homecare workers well before the November 30 expiration date. Negotiations are scheduled to begin in late July and SEIU UHW bargainers are optimistic that a progressive contract is possible.

"We are a strong union and will work hard to defend and increase our pay and benefits," said John Campbell, who is also a member of the bargaining committee. "We look forward to working with the County to hammer out a contract and take care of our members so they can focus on their important work."

Note from the above that there are NO quotes from anyone who is not in the pay of SEIU-UHW on some level. There are NO links to any concrete proposals made by Zombie UHW. There is nothing in the above Zombie UHW presser except for a regurgitation of the same stale, tired talking points shielding a desperate attempt to yell out one thing: "Me, Too!"

UHW is truly a pathetic shell of what it once was.

1 comment:

  1. And don't forget...when it came to the County's budget hearing in May...Zombie UHW showed up with 6 staff and DIDN'T SAY A WORD in defense of homecare workers while the County debated cutting their wages! They literally just sat there staring as NUHW presented the County with options to preserve wages and benefits... the UHW Zombies from outta town don't have a clue about what's going on here!


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