Missouri Home Care attendants overwhelmingly ratify historic first contract

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MISSOURI HOME CARE workers and their clients rallied at a Home Care Workers rallied outside the Wainwright Building in Downtown St. Louis Oct. 7 to call on Gov. Jay Nixon to raise the wages of care workers employed in Missouri’s Consumer Directed Services Program. – Labor Tribune photo

Missouri Quality Home Care Council also ratifies agreement, paving way for implementation

Jefferson City – On December 1, 2014, home care attendants in Missouri’s Consumer-Directed Services (CDS) program overwhelmingly voted ‘YES’ and approved the tentative agreement that was reached on October 17, 2014.

The 12,000 home care attendants in the program currently earn an average of $8.58 an hour. Once implemented, the new contract will lift the hourly wage of most to $10.15. On the same day, the Missouri Quality Home Care Council also approved the agreement.

Once implemented, this new agreement will improve the lives of nearly 12,000 Consumer-Directed Service attendants and give nearly 33,000 people who utilize these services –consumers – a stronger voice.

The agreement will stabilize the workforce available for seniors and people with disabilities by lifting wages and giving attendants a voice and needed support.

PUTS PEOPLE FIRST

“Our agreement respects the voice of consumers and the work of attendants. It puts people in this program first and that means consumers and attendants,” explained Elizabeth Travis, a home care attendant and MHCU bargaining team member from Columbia.

“It prioritizes consumers by giving them the right over third-party vendors to set their attendants’ wages up $10.15 an hour and beyond. Additionally, it prioritizes attendants by addressing a number of problems that will encourage, rather than discourage, caregivers to continue working in the Consumer-Directed Services program.”

CONSUMERS WILL CHOOSE

The agreement, reached between home care attendants belonging to the Missouri Home Care Union and the Missouri Quality Home Care Council, is the first such contract bargained by home care workers in Missouri.

Because of the critical care they provide and the close relationship they often have with their consumers, most attendants believe consumers will choose to pay at or near the top of the range at $10.15 an hour.

‘AS MUCH AS I CAN’

“Without my attendant I can’t live the life I want to live,” said Kyle Auxier, a recipient of home care services from St. James.

“We need to get our priorities straight, and this agreement gets us on the right track. I’ll definitely pay my attendants as much as I can, and I believe given the opportunity, my fellow consumers in the program feel the same way.”

RIGHTS AND IMPROVEMENTS

The agreement also includes a number of other substantive rights and improvements to working conditions for home care attendants:

  • For the first time, home care workers will have a process for addressing incorrect payment for the hours they work;
  • Workers will receive an additional $3-per-hour in premium pay for working on holidays;
  • And workers will get protections on how their personal and financial data is shared by vendors.

The MHCU bargaining team and the Missouri Quality Home Care Council will soon meet and officially sign this historic agreement.

The next step will be implementation.

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