Union home care workers presented the newly ratified 1199 Personal Care Attendants contract with the State of Connecticut on Wednesday, including wage increases up to $18.25 per hour in January, supplementary health insurance funding, a 6% retroactive lump sum bonus for all hours worked from April 2021 through March 2022, and paid time off.
The tentative contract was ratified with a 99% vote in favor, and is now pending final approval by Connecticut’s General Assembly, and subsequently by federal officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Expiring in June 2023, the contract covers some 10,000 long-term care workers who are employed by the State of Connecticut’s Medicaid waiver program.
“Home care workers are in charge of caring for some of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities. It is a labor of love that offers service recipients the freedom to live independently at home and remain in their communities,” said Rob Baril, president of the New England Health Care Employees Union, SEIU 1199NE. “This was a hard-fought contract that took months of negotiations. We congratulate our members for their unflinching character in fighting for better working conditions that reflect the real value of the critical work they do. We also thank Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration for making a commitment and allocating the resources to transform the future of home care in Connecticut.”
Connecticut’s workforce of home care Personal Care Attendants is majority Black, Latina, API, and white working-class women. These long-term care workers provide essential services for the elderly, and for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, so they can live independently at home.
“It is very hard to miss another day of work. Because like other single mothers like myself, we live paycheck to paycheck,” said home care worker Andrea Mitchell in celebration of the paid time off accrual system included for the first time in the PCA contract. “We all get sick. Just knowing that when we are sick, we can actually take that time off to rest and get better, tell me, doesn’t that give you peace of mind?”
“I am hopeful that with this new agreement no PCA will have to make the impossible choice that I had to make and that so many other PCAs have to make. Missing a day of work can really affect our ability to meet our monthly expenses. I know my fellow PCAs can relate. This benefit will change our lives for the better,” she added.
“A lot of people during the pandemic talked about how we value, how we care, how we support, how we appreciate you. But now we have a tangible way in which you could demonstrate that,” said House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) while addressing a group of PCAs and calling for bipartisan approval of the new contract by the end of the legislative session on May 4th. “I will do everything I can to put your voice out there. We will support this. I’m so happy to be part of your historic day. And thank you for the work that you do.”
- Lump sum bonus: PCAs employed between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022 will receive a 6% lump sum bonus on wages earned during that 12-month period. The PCA must be currently employed to receive the bonus.
- Health insurance premium assistance: PCAs who do not qualify for HUSKY/Covered CT, or who do not have access to health insurance through another employer, spouse or parent, will be eligible for a Premium Assistance card valued at 6% of annual income to buy health insurance on the exchange.
- Paid time off accrual: PCAs accrue paid time off at an accrual rate of 0.025 per hour worked, up to 40 hours per year for full-time PCAs. Unused paid time off accrued can be rolled over to the next year up to a maximum of 80 hours.
- Increased funding for training: Protected current funding and added $150,000 extra per year for additional PCA training opportunities.
- Wage increases:
- PCAs: three increases to reach $18.25 per hour by January 1, 2023 (current minimum wage is $16.25)
What: Press conference to announce filing of ratified home care contract and encourage final approval by the Legislature
When: Wednesday, April 20, at 1:15 PM
Where: In front of the South entrance of the State Capitol; 210 Capitol Ave in Hartford
Who: SEIU District 1199 New England union home care Personal Care Attendants, union leaders, elected officials, and community partners
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