clinicians hand out facing forward asking for cash

Home care workers in Illinois and Oregon are the latest direct care workers to call on their state legislatures for better wages. 

Dozens of home care workers represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) descended on the state capitol in Springfield, IL, to demand better pay and training standards for those providing care in the Illinois Community Care Program, a Medicaid home-and community-based services program that allows older adults to age at home. 

The workers are asking legislators to pass two bills. The first one would raise the hourly minimum wage for workers in the ICC program to $18. Those workers currently make $17.25 an hour. The second bill would raise training standards for direct care workers and ensure they get paid for training. The state needs to attract more than 62,000 direct care workers by the end of the decade, according to PHI National.  

Two-thousand miles away in Oregon, home care workers are also battling with state legislators for better pay. SEIU Local 503 is currently bargaining on a new two-year contract for home care and personal support workers who provide care under the state’s Medicaid program. The union is seeking a $25-an-hour minimum wage, better health insurance benefits and holiday pay and no cap on the number of hours caregivers can work. 

SEIU is planning rallies throughout the state with a protest at the state capitol building in Salem in mid-May. 

Direct care workers in the two states are the latest to demand better rates. Last week, SEIU Local 1199 led a march on the state capitol in Albany, New York where senior advocates, home care workers and family caregivers delivered 8,000 letters to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), demanding the inclusion of the Fair Pay for Home Care Act in the 2024 budget. The bill would raise home care wages to 150% of the state’s minimum wage, direct the commissioner of health to set regional minimum wage rates of reimbursement for home care aides under Medicaid and managed care plans. 

SEIU represents approximately 750,000 home care workers nationwide.