1199NE SEIU members and leaders announced Friday a step forward in their campaign to transform Connecticut’s state-funded home care jobs into good jobs. Governor Lamont sat down with 1199NE leaders Wednesday to discuss actions the state can take to ensure healthcare providers across Connecticut have jobs that support their families, increase funding to provide affordable health and retirement benefits for people who work in non-profit group homes, and prevent a crisis in the state’s public health system by filling 1800 current vacancies and expected retirements for state healthcare jobs.
During the meeting, SEIU 1199NE President Rob Baril lifted up the urgent need to provide state funded home care workers with living wages, health insurance, and paid sick leave consistent with the Connecticut paid sick leave act that Governor Lamont signed into law.
“Home care workers provide an essential service that so many Connecticut residents rely on for our family members and loved ones. They provide support for those most in need, showing up each and every day to help people live with dignity and independence. But care providers need support too, and it’s time for state leaders to show up for them,” said 1199NE SEIU President Rob Baril. “We were heartened that the Governor agrees that every state home care worker in Connecticut must be paid a living wage, have affordable healthcare and paid sick leave. He showed that he cares about workers across our state, including the home care providers who are struggling to afford even basic necessities like food and rent. We’re encouraged by the governor’s support for our demands, and his willingness to work together to lift up home care providers.”
Home care providers with 1199NE SEIU–who have worked through the pandemic despite the risk to themselves and their families–have raised bold, visible demands for state leaders to transform care jobs into good jobs that allow workers to support their families. They are demanding the state fund adequate, affordable health insurance, living wages and paid sick days for home care providers—especially as demand for care surges and, with it, the need for good, family-sustaining home care jobs.
The meeting with Lamont came after care providers with 1199NE SEIU invited him to walk a day in their shoes and see firsthand the urgent needs of providers throughout the state, who continue to struggle to survive on low wages and few benefits. After months of action in which home care providers took to the streets, demonstrated outside the State Capitol and even took arrest for participating in civil disobedience in order to impress the urgency of the crisis workers are facing, providers welcomed the positive conversation about how to build a stronger future for care providers and their families.
“I’m feeling optimistic that Governor Lamont is recognizing home care workers and will work with us to ensure that we can gain access to life-saving health insurance, paid time off and living wages.” said Marcial Torres, a home care provider from New Haven. “I work 70-100 hours per week to make ends meet, yet I don’t qualify for health insurance, paid sick days or any retirement plan. Being able to look forward to a future where – as a healthcare provider – I can access health insurance and afford to take care of myself would change my life.”
Currently, the state of Connecticut has 10,000 home care providers under state contract who receive low wages and no health insurance, paid sick days or retirement – all while providing critical in-home support to those most in need. Home care providers have been in contract negotiations with the State of CT for fifteen months without resolution. As essential workers, home care providers look forward to working with the governor to ensure their demands for wages and benefits that will enable them to support their families are met.
The need for home care in Connecticut is greater than ever. Exhausted, underpaid and with little-to-no benefits, providers are leaving the home care workforce in record numbers, with annual turnover estimated between 30 and 50 percent per year. Meanwhile, demand is rising exponentially as the population of older people grows and more people seek home care during the pandemic. A meaningful investment in care would not only improve existing home care jobs, it would attract high quality providers to meet growing needs in Connecticut.
A January 2022 survey found that due to the state’s low wages, 50% of home care providers have taken unpaid days off in the last six months due to illness or quarantine, 26% have unpaid medical debt, and 32% have been behind on rent or mortgage payments in the last year. Home care providers in Connecticut are Black, Brown, and white working people, 80% of whom are women. They are asking the Governor to provide funding for their upcoming contract to include a path to $20 per hour and benefits like affordable health insurance, paid sick leave, and retirement planning.
Contact: Erica Noll, firstname.lastname@example.org