Fresno Home Care Workers Win Four-Year Effort to Protect Clients, Stop Wage Cuts

[May 24, 2013] FRESNO, CA – Home care workers in Fresno County won a four-year battle to protect their clients and maintain their wages after a federal judge approved a settlement of a lawsuit today that has protected their wage levels since 2009.

As part of the settlement, a 2009 state law that would have cut the wages of home care workers earning more than $9.50 an hour in Fresno and other counties will be repealed.  Previous injunctions had prevented this law from ever taking effect, and had stopped Fresno County’s persistent attempts to lower the home care workers’ pay from $10.25 per hour to $8.

Home care workers provide essential services that enable seniors and people with disabilities to live safely in their homes, rather than be forced into far more costly nursing homes or hospitals.

“I know so many great caregivers who would have been forced to leave the work they love if their wages were lowered to $8 an hour, and that would have left clients without the care they need,” said Kellye Everhardt, Fresno County home care provider. “With this settlement, and the end of this lawsuit, we can now focus our attention on providing outstanding care to the people we know and love.”

The settlement resolves lawsuits brought by groups representing home care clients and caregivers that have prevented the State of California from implementing cuts to the home care program for the last four years. As part of the statewide settlement, home care workers will not be subject to a permanent 20 percent reduction in their hours, as state officials had planned. The state legislature is advancing bills which approve the relevant parts of the settlement.

Two previous attempts by Fresno County in 2009 and 2010 to reduce home care workers’ wages were challenged in court by SEIU-UHW, and each time a federal judge blocked the cuts.

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