A new payroll agency for home care providers will replace Allied Community Services, following a plague of paycheck processing errors that afflicted thousands of PCAs and HUSKY patients for years.
Personal care attendants (PCAs) serving patients covered by Connecticut’s HUSKY Health/Medicaid are hopeful that the new agency, GT Independence, will drastically reduce the high volume of weekly paycheck errors, and establish improved customer service relations that helps both workers and home care consumers to address their payroll concerns.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that GT Independence will be able to implement significant improvements for 11,500 PCAs and thousands of consumers of home care services. PCAs play a huge role by supporting our loved ones to live independently at home. They deserve to be paid accurately, on time, every time,” said SEIU 1199NE President Rob Baril on Wednesday. “Union PCAs worked tirelessly to document and denounce that Allied’s insensitive operation was hurting families and consumers. Too many of our members lost their homes, their cars, or were forced to miss medical treatment because of Allied’s payroll errors and delays. We welcome GT Independence as the new payroll agency, and look forward to our work together to ensure that home care is treated with respect and dignity.”
With a maximum state contract value with GT Independence of nearly $126 million over three years to process home care payroll for the Department of Social Services, the Department of Developmental Services, and the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the new agency will also oversee the implementation of paid time off and roll out other benefits won in the new PCA union agreement. A new home care union contract establishing paid time off and a health care stipend for the first time, among other additional benefits, was ratified by the state and SEIU 1199NE back in April of 2022. GT Independence is expected to take over payroll operations by March 2024.
“We continue working together with the State of Connecticut and the PCA Workforce Council, as well as the agencies that run the Independent Provider Medicaid Program in Connecticut to improve the quality of home care services. We also need to create the economic and workplace conditions that will allow PCAs to build a career, and help customers by bringing in enough workers to cover the high demand for direct care services,” said Baril.
Current minimum wage for Connecticut’s 11,500 independent PCAs is $18.25 per hour. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects “684,600 openings for home health and personal care aides” each year, one of the fastest growing job sectors nationally for the next decade, in service of the elderly and individuals with disabilities.
“I can’t believe we are finally getting rid of Allied. We had to fight as a union through letters to state leaders, public testimony, press conferences, and multiple actions of civil disobedience. All we want is to be paid reliably for the hours we worked, and to be able to fix paycheck problems as soon as possible,” said Margaret Walker, a PCA with 15 years of experience from Stamford. “I will never forget the stress and suffering that Allied placed on my family. My story is the story of so many PCAs in Connecticut, stranded by Allied as we continued showing up to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time to learn from all these costly mistakes and put in a system that really works.”
PCAs are supportive of the oversight and financial penalties that have been written into the new state contract with GT Independence. And the union believes that the upcoming transition under this new contract has the potential to transform the payroll system and stabilize the caregiver workforce. Eager to achieve this transformation successfully, SEIU 1199NE has communicated some pending items to the state to continue working on contract implementation:
- PCA and Consumer oversight on a workgroup to oversee transition and serve as a pilot group to test the new system with GTI first
- Ensure communications go directly to PCAs and Consumer-Employers, in multiple languages and through multiple avenues (text, email, robocall, mail)
- Ensure there are ample training opportunities geared toward adult learners of various backgrounds, primary languages, and comfort levels with technology
- Ensure off-cycle payroll is written into the contract with GTI to resolve problems in between pay periods and reduce suffering and disruption to care services
- Ensure access to the long-awaited Paid Time Off is available to PCAs as soon as possible via the new fiscal intermediary
SEIU District 1199NE, the New England Health Care Employees Union, represents over 25,000 caregivers in Connecticut and some 4,000 in Rhode Island. Historically known as “1199” going back to the Civil Rights Movement, we are a bold, democratic union with a long activist tradition fighting for racial and economic justice to improve the lives of Black, Latina, Native American, AAPI, and white working-class communities.
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