Mayor Mike Rotkin Joins ULTCW Santa Cruz County Home Care Workers at County Government Building to Protest and Picket Potential Wage Cuts

Mayor supports workers testimony at Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors meeting as they negotiate new In-Home Support Services (IHSS) Contract

Dec 07, 2010, 14:12 ET from SEIU ULTCW

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- As the County Board of Supervisors negotiates a new In-Home Support Services (IHSS) contract, members of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) and their community allies joined Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin this morning to protest potential cuts to in-home caregiver wages.  First, the fifty or so home care workers and their allies picketed outside the county building, emphasizing the need for a fair wage.  Then the many workers went inside to the meeting, lining up to speak to the Board of Supervisors about the importance of keeping the hourly wage the same in their contract.  

Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, a supporter of the Santa Cruz home care workers, spoke at the protest outside about the importance of home care workers in Santa Cruz County.

"Home care workers enable some of our most vulnerable community members, our seniors and our disabled, to receive care in their own home.  Without them, many would end up in institutional care," he said.  "That's why it is imperative that these workers keep their livable wage of $11.50 per hour.  Times are tough, and to reduce the wages would be hurtful to them and to Santa Cruz County by possibly pushing many home care workers to other counties to find other jobs.  Our senior and disabled citizens don't deserve that."      

The protest comes just weeks after the Santa Cruz City Council passed a resolution that honored the hard work of in-home caregivers.  The resolution also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Living Wage Ordinance, which sets a living wage at $13.60 per hour with benefits.  That's over two dollars more than what an IHSS home care provider currently earns at $11.50 per hour with benefits.

Many home care workers spoke about how the wages would affect them and their loved ones.

Robert Poen, who led the many workers into the board chambers, was one of them.

"I am a native Santa Cruzan, and have lived here all my life.  I am lucky enough to be able to take care of my son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, at home," he said.  "I am concerned that if wages are cut further, I may not be able to do that.  I don't want my son to have to live in an institution.  He deserves a dignified life at home."

ULTCW represents 180,000 long term caregivers throughout California, making it the largest union of long term caregivers in California and the second largest SEIU local in the nation.