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Home care workers march for increase in hourly pay

LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of home care workers marched in downtown Los Angeles April 14 to urge the county Board of Supervisors to increase their hourly wage to $15.

Carrying signs reading “We can’t survive on $9.65” and wearing “We Care LA” T-shirts, caregivers for the elderly and disabled called for a “pathway to $15 an hour.”

Union leaders cited research that they said showed 81 percent of Los Angeles-based In-Home Support Services providers live in poverty, 33 percent rely on public assistance and 18 percent depend on food stamps to feed their families.

“The work we do as caregivers is tough both emotionally and financially,” said Regina Sutton. “We provide quality care to maintain the lives of parents, grandparents and children with disabilities yet find it nearly impossible to make ends meet every month. We love the work we do, but we cannot survive on $9.65.”

The home care providers are represented by the Service Employees International Union-United Long Term Care Workers, which is in contract negotiations with the county.

“The only way [In-Home Support Services] providers can gain a livable wage is if the county Board of Supervisors approve one by way of their contract,” said Laphonza Butler, SEIU-ULTCW president. “It’s time to lift caregivers out of poverty and ensure that home care providers are able to afford the basic necessities they and their families need to survive.”

The workers provide in-home support for 160,000 low-income elderly residents and people with disabilities.

The county raised the wage to $9.65 in 2012.

None of the protesters spoke before the board, which took no action on the wage issue.