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By CHCA on May 06, 2024

CHCA Campaign to Increase Home Care Worker Wages: Drawing Closer to Our Vision

The Journey So Far: A Brief Overview

In April 2023, we shared our last update on the Campaign to Increase Home Care Worker Wages in  "The Fight Continues: CHCA Rallies for Fair Pay for Home Care" Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) Our mission was clear: advocating for a wage increase to 150% of the local minimum wage, elevating the standard from $15 to $22.5 per hour. This battle was not fought alone but alongside The New York Caring Majority coalition and the political might of the 1199 Services Employees International Union (SEIU).

HCW Deborah O'Bryant in Action

The Fight for Fair Pay: A Timeline of Advocacy

Our campaign commenced in the fall of 2020 during the pandemic's peak, when because of the uncertainty of these times there was a mass exodus of home care workers and a dire shortage of in-home care support. Despite the Fair Pay for Home Care Bill making strides in legislative discussions, it fell short of inclusion in the final budget. Undeterred, we intensified our efforts, rallying supporters through various channels, from engaging with legislators to amplifying our message through media and social platforms.

Governor Hochul's Initial Response: A Step Forward

In January 2022, Governor Hochul's budget included a one-time bonus for home care workers but lacked a wage increase. Through relentless advocacy and collaboration with the legislature, we secured a $2-an-hour raise in October 2022, setting the new minimum wage at $17 per hour. While a significant milestone, this wage was still not enough for sustainable living, in other cases, the increase impacted the threshold for workers to be able to continue collecting subsidized benefits. As an organization, we continued to face challenges in recruiting people who wanted to do home care work but couldn’t risk losing the subsidized benefits that helped them support themselves and their families.

Navigating Setbacks: The Road to Progress

Despite the promise of a $1-an-hour increase in October 2023, subsequent budget revisions deferred the raise to January 2024, falling short of the campaign's demands. While acknowledging incremental progress, we recognize the urgency of addressing the severe home care worker shortage in New York State, a crisis impacting service accessibility for countless individuals.

Empowering Change: Collective Bargaining for Progress

As discussions unfolded for the 2024 wage increase, it became evident that further governmental increments were unlikely. Faced with this reality, CHCA embarked on renegotiating its Collective Bargaining Agreement in collaboration with 1199 organized agencies. The shared goal was clear: to secure a wage exceeding the home care minimum, coupled with comprehensive benefits to honor the dedication and hard work of home care workers.

Charting the Path Forward: A Vision for Change

CHCA remains steadfast in its commitment to championing quality care through quality jobs. We are worker-centered and we wholeheartedly believe that being so will impact the care our workers provide our clients. However, It becomes challenging to offer fair wages and competitive benefits when our agency depends on adequate reimbursements from the health plans.   Managed Long Term Care Plans (MLTCP) receive monies from the state and then provide home care agencies a portion of those monies to reimburse us for the services provided to our clients through Medicaid. CHCA and many other licensed home care agencies need higher reimbursement rates from the plans to cover home care worker wages and additional expenses that come with increased wages, such as overtime, training, unemployment taxes, etc. Our dedication to fair wages and benefits for our workers drives us forward. As we celebrate the recent agreement on a $19.15 base wage, surpassing the State Minimum Wage for home care workers, we stand united in our pursuit of a brighter future for all those involved in the vital field of home care.

The journey continues, fueled by our collective resolve to uplift and empower those who dedicate their lives to caring for others. Together, we forge ahead, unwavering in our mission to redefine standards, advocate for change, and create a more equitable and sustainable future for home care workers across New York State.

When we achieve greater investment in the home care infrastructure, through appropriate reimbursement rates, it will benefit all of us connected to Home Care and be an incredible win for all!

For more information on the supportive services CHCA offers Home Care Workers, please visit our website.

Published by CHCA May 6, 2024