Personal care attendants and union staff members united in civil disobedience action Thursday in Enfield to take a stand against Allied Community Resources and its abusive treatment of home care workers. Thousands of home care workers have missed timely and accurate wage payments due to errors by Allied.
Now that Allied’s payroll agreement with the Department of Social Services and the Department of Developmental Services is due to expire on June 30, 2021, home care workers are demanding that the State of Connecticut must find another organization that is trustworthy to deliver on wage payments for all hardworking personal care attendants.
Making only $16.25 per hour with no other significant benefits, the 7,000 personal care attendants covered by the union contract with DSS and DDS and paid by Allied cannot afford any more unreasonable delays and costly errors from Allied. Workers have expressed their frustration with Allied’s colossal failure to pay wages “on time, every time” at all available forums, including appeals to legislators at Connecticut’s General Assembly, the PCA Workforce Council and Gov. Ned Lamont.
“The state is paying Allied more than $6 million to process payroll for these essential workers. Every week on Fridays our phone lines blow up at the Union to file complaints against Allied. These workers feel like they’ve been cheated and robbed. And we are not going to let Allied get away with mistreating our members,” said Rob Baril, president of District 1199 New England, SEIU. “Our friends in the legislature and the folks at DSS and DDS need to say ‘NO’ to Allied and go somewhere else for these payroll services.”
According to IRS form 990 for fiscal year 2018, Allied Community Services (a subsidiary of Allied Community Resources, Allied Group) received more than $6.1 million to perform the clerical work to pay some 7,000 home care worker wages. In 2019, over 6,000 timesheet errors were admitted by Allied. In just the second half of 2020, while workers struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic, Allied processed nearly 5,000 timesheets after the scheduled payday in a period of six months alone according to DSS records.
“I’ve been in the workforce for over 50 years. Allied has messed up my pay more times in the past five years than in the previous 45 years combined,” said Kay Wright from New Haven. “Instead of payroll getting better, it’s only gotten worse. I can’t count on my paycheck each Friday. If you work, you should be paid. That’s the bottom line.”
Meanwhile, the home care workers who get their wages paid through Sunset Shores, a different payroll agency for 3,000 PCAs on the DDS waiver program, have never filed a complaint at the Union for missing wages.
“I am a PCA caring for a consumer with an intellectual disability. Unlike most of my fellow Union members, I get paid by a different payroll company, Sunset Shores. I’ve never had a problem that wasn’t fixed within 24 hours, which is the kind of payroll company we all need and deserve,” said Lucas Blinn from Wallingford.
Payroll mistakes by Allied are harmful to workers and the people they care for every day. Workers have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in overdraft bank penalties.
Some workers have faced food shortages and aggravated medical conditions, or were unable to care for their consumers because they lacked personal funds for transportation.
“I care for someone with physical disabilities, and I’m one of her lifelines. I feel robbed,” said Angel Hawes, a personal care attendant from Ansonia. “PCAs are majority Black and Brown women, and we should not be working for free. Something needs to be done. Allied needs to be fired.”
For Claire Martin, a PCA from Middletown caring for an 85-year-old suffering from growing dementia, her stress levels peak on Thursday nights, not knowing if she’ll get paid by Allied or not on Friday payday as she deserves.
“Thursday around 6:00 pm is a busy time for me. It’s the time when I begin to close the day, when all my attention should be focused on my client. But because of Allied, I start to panic, because if I haven’t gotten my pay confirmation by then, I might not be getting paid at all. This happened to me just a couple weeks ago,” said Martin, who earns $16.25 an hour doing home care. “I can’t have surprises. I work so hard for everything I do have. But I know I’m just one missed paycheck away from losing it all.”
Allied receives millions in taxpayer dollars to process payroll for home care workers in Connecticut since October 2008. The payroll contract has been continuously renewed without going to bid through June 2021. The new request for proposal by the State of Connecticut was supposed to be released in late 2020, but then was delayed to January, and has been delayed again with no estimated deadline for the submission of proposals to the State.
“I care for my mom as a PCA full-time. We as PCAs are lacking so many of the basics: we don’t have health insurance, we don’t have any paid time off, and we don’t have a payroll company we can rely on,” said Jordan Deangelo from Winsted. “For the past five years, I’ve had more issues with Allied than I can count. It’s ridiculous what thousands of PCAs are going through, just to care for our loved ones and get paid for the hours we’ve already worked.”
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