A Week of Legislative Milestones for Home Care Bill

LobbyDay_HCW_20130306_ktThe home care bill we’ve been advocating for to grant collective organizing rights to home care workers seeking to form a union is on its way!

On Tuesday, the bill (HF 844) successfully passed through the House Health and Human Services Policy committee with bipartisan support. On Wednesday the bill cleared the Senate State and Local Government committee, which was a continuation from Monday’s committee hearing, where Sen. Sandy Pappas moved to merge SF 665 with SF 778, a bill that would also grant organizing rights to in-home childcare providers.

Sen. Sandy Pappas says both bills will extend the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA) to cover the workers for purposes of collective bargaining with the state over wages and benefits.

Senator Chris Eaton, co-author of SF 665, strongly believes in the need for this bill to cover home care workers who work in self-directed programs whose wages and benefits are determined and funded by the state. “These workers should have the same right under state law as teachers, nurses, and firefighters to form a union and negotiate with the people who determine their wages and benefits,” said Eaton. “Doing so will help us attract and retain more workers, which is crucial given that the need for home care workers will continue to increase as the Baby Boomers age.”

Nicole Villavicencio-Tollison, a home care recipient for the past 12 years, says turnover has certainly been an issue for her. “It is difficult to find quality, reliable personal care attendants (PCA) who are willing and able to work for low wages and no benefits,” she said. “When I do find someone who is really good and reliable they always end up leaving to make more money. This has happened over and over again. When PCAs do stay full-time, they often have to rely on public assistance to be able to feed their families or get health care for their own children.”

The second round of committee hearings in the Senate and House on the home care bill will be held next week.

On March 21, dozens of home care Workers and their clients will come together at the Minnesota State Capitol to show their support for passing the Home Care Bill. Find out more and join the Facebook event here.

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