Contract negotiations: IHSS staff and Butte County supervisors

Ongoing contract negotiations between IHSS staff and Butte County in efforts to increase wage rates above the state minimum wage of $13 an hour.

Posted: Feb 25, 2020 8:08 AM
Updated: Feb 25, 2020 12:05 PM

CHICO, Calif. – The Butte County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday, February 25, with an agenda starting at 9 a.m.

And items that are not on the agenda but one that will be in the spotlight, focuses on ongoing contract negotiations between the County and workers of the In Home Support Services; IHSS, workers who care for the elderly, the disabled and others who can’t care for themselves.

Of the more than 33-hundred IHSS staff in Butte County, many are represented by the United Domestic Workers of America; the UDW. The union is asking supervisors to meet contract demands of increasing pay for IHSS staff above the state minimum wage of $13 dollars an hour.

For family caregiver Justin Myers the issue is two-fold. Not only does he work with other care providers to help secure fair working conditions, but he and his mother are family caregivers to his 31-year-old brother.

Myers told Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough about many of the daily challenges his family faces.
He cares for his brother, Teal Rotchy, who was born with cerebral palsy and is severely disabled. Rotchy needs 24/7 care for all of his living needs.

As full-time caregivers, Myers and his mother rely on In Home Support Services as partial income, because their ‘work’ is to take care of their family members.

Myers says part of the issue is that care providers in Butte County earn minimum wage. He says it is difficult to find anyone outside the family who has the skills required to care for his brother, who will work at $13 an hour. In order for his brother to remain at home, rather a facility, the family takes on the role of working as care providers. In many other cases, individuals who need assistance have a non-family member and IHSS staff arrive at their home to help with daily needs.

The Regional Director of the UDW, Dwane Camp, says the union is in ongoing negotiations with Butte County to hammer out a contract. He says the last negotiated contract expired almost five years.

Camp says the last offer from the county agreed to a 50-cent increase over minimum wage; bringing pay to $13.50 an hour; but, IHSS workers were asked to give up some of the existing protections within their current health and medical coverage insurance plans.

Camp says union members should not have to give up their own protections in order to earn more for the services they provide to the elderly, disabled and others who oftentimes have no other help.

As for Myers and his family situation; he says he does not believe the Board of Supervisors understands or truly values the work provided by In Home Support Services providers.

Action News Now’s Yarbough reached out to the Board of Supervisors. Of the four she communicated with, all said because the matter is still in negotiations they could not make a comment.

However, one said what IHSS workers are requesting is not too great and believed that people should be paid properly. Another said they want workers to have a fair wage. Another said public comments on this matter are taken into consideration when making a decision, but added, they wished labor negotiations were more transparent and open to the public so everyone could know what is taking place.

The Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m., Tuesday, February 25, 2020, at 25 County Center Drive, Oroville.

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Thursday was the last fairly quiet weather day that we'll have in northern California as a series of storms will move our way through next week. Our first chance for rain and snow showers arrives Friday morning with a cold front.
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