NUHW homecare providers and advocates call on Supervisors to stop the cuts and make sure Fresno gets fair share of federal economic stimulus

NewsJune 16, 2009

Fresno County could access millions of federal stimulus dollars that San Francisco and Sacramento have used to offset loss of state funding

Fresno, Calif.—Before a vote by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on its plan to cut homecare wages from $10.25 to $9.50 an hour, homecare providers united in the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) joined local homecare advocates in calling on the Board to call off the cuts and replace lost state funding with federal stimulus dollars.

“It seems like Fresno County is always overlooked when funding and resources pour into Los Angeles and the Bay Area,” said Sarah Jones, a Fresno homecare provider. “It’s not right that our elected officials would turn down federal funding that is ours to take, especially when it would fund a healthcare service that is so critical to our families and communities.”

Last week, an independent factfinder ruled against the wage cuts, upholding the union contract negotiated by the leaders of NUHW. NUHW leaders were the elected leaders of SEIU-UHW until a hostile takeover by SEIU’s Washington, D.C. office in January of this year, and as the leaders of SEIU-UHW they negotiated the first contract for Fresno homecare providers in 2003 as well as the current contract.

The factfinder ruled that the cuts were not necessary because Fresno County could access federal stimulus dollars that more than offset Governor Schwarzenegger’s cuts to state homecare funding. In recent weeks, NUHW has prevented cuts in Sacramento and San Francisco by encouraging county officials to adopt this approach, and Fresno providers and advocates again called on the Board of Supervisors to avert the cuts and bring millions of federal stimulus dollars into the County.

“This service is the last thing Fresno County should be cutting,” said John Wilkins, a Fresno-based disability advocate. “Homecare allows seniors and people with disabilities to live at home with dignity, instead of the state and county having to pay for more costly institutions where many of us couldn’t get the care we need.”

NUHW leaders said that saving vital services is exactly how the Obama Administration intended the stimulus funds to be used.

“Cutting wages and benefits for 10,000 workers is no way to rebuild Fresno’s economy,” said Sal Rosselli, Interim President of NUHW. “Fresno County could maintain current levels of funding for these critical services, preserve access to care for the region’s most vulnerable residents, and pump millions of federal dollars into the local economy without incurring any additional cost. The Board of Supervisors should follow the lead of San Francisco and Sacramento counties in taking this opportunity to do what’s right for homecare providers, consumers, and the public.”

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The National Union of Healthcare Workers is an independent, member-led union, dedicated to improving the lives of healthcare workers and the people they care for. NUHW is building a national movement of caregivers to hold healthcare corporations accountable to the public interest and win affordable, quality healthcare for all.