CONTRA COSTA: Supervisors Vote To Let Home Health Workers Unionize
In a 3-2 vote, Contra Costa County supervisors moved yesterday to give "5,000 home health workers the right to unionize" and to establish "an agency to serve the needs of people they care for." The Contra Costa Times reports that the new agency, the In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority, will "help people find home care workers and will check worker qualifications and background" through a registry. Mitch Jeserich, of Independent Living Resources, said, "Before, there has been no place for us to bring our concerns and complaints." County Supervisor Joe Canciamilla, who noted the lack of government scrutiny of home care workers, said, "I find it unconscionable that we have a system that allows people to walk into the homes of disabled people and invalids and absolutely no one is responsible for them."
A Voice In The Process
The county's 4,000 seniors and disabled home care recipients will have majority representation on the agency's advisory board, with county supervisors having the "final say" in decision-making. The county expects to spend an estimated $739,920 to start up the new authority and $666,820 annually thereafter. Local 250 of the Home Health Care Workers Union, which campaigned for the new authority, will have to "win organizing elections to represent the workers." The Times notes that as independent contractors, home health workers have been unable "to collectively bargain for wages and benefits" and earn the minimum wage (Spears, 3/11).