100+ workers pack County Supervisors’ meeting to protest another round of cuts
Fresno, Calif.—Over a hundred Fresno homecare providers packed the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to oppose an agenda item that would reduce their wages and benefits to $9.50 an hour. But they weren’t just there to protest the wage cuts—they also pointed to the repeated failure of their union, SEIU, to support them in stopping the cuts.
“SEIU just failed to stop a different set of cuts last week,” said Flo Furlow, a homecare worker. “Now the county wants to cut our wages even more, and this time SEIU isn’t even going to take it to arbitration. How many times can we let this happen?”
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Fresno County personnel managers deemed valid a petition filed last month to decertify the Service Employees International Union’s United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU/UHW) as the bargaining agent for workers in the county’s In-Home Supportive Services Public Authority.
It’s part of a bitter statewide battle between the established union and the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers, launched earlier this year by former SEIU/UHW officials, over representation of nursing-home and in-home health workers in labor negotiations.
The dispute is flaring as Fresno County prepares to slice caregivers’ wages and benefits by more than $1 per hour to make up for similar cuts by the state in its support for such programs.
“SEIU told us we couldn’t stay in the same union with hospital and clinic workers. SEIU failed to protect homecare funding in Sacramento, and for the first time in County history our wages and benefits might be rolled back. Now we’ll have the chance to decide for ourselves, and join a union where homecare workers have a voice.”