SAN MATEO COUNTY: Home Health Workers Demand Increased Wages
With contract negotiations at a standstill, San Mateo County home care workers picketed county offices yesterday, demanding increased wages and benefits, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The contract is set to expire today. Union representatives said that they had "reached an impasse" in trying to get 1,900 home health care workers a raise from $6.15 to $8 an hour, plus health benefits. According to the representatives, the county is offering a $.50 raise to $6.65 an hour, and health benefits only to workers who live in the county. San Mateo County employs home care workers on a contract basis to care for 2,000 low-income elderly and disabled residents. Home care worker Sue Chavez said, "This is the lowest wage I've ever made. It's not like our county is poor ... I know we're one of the richest counties in the country." According to Myriam Escamilla, a negotiator for the Service Employees International Union, Local 715, San Mateo County home care workers are the lowest paid in the Bay Area, making $7,900 a year for 25 hours of work per week. The federal poverty level is $8,050. While county officials would not comment about the specifics of their latest offer, personnel director Mary Welch said, "We do feel that our offer is the most we can do within the budget constraints we have" (Enge, 3/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.