CT Caregivers Call on State Leaders for Better Working Conditions
Monday, May 8, 2023
Caregivers in Connecticut are calling on state officials for better conditions and higher pay.
They're seeking a $25 an hour minimum wage, paid time off, affordable healthcare, and a pension for retirement planning.
Chase Bolling is a Personal Care Attendant and member of 1199 Service Employees International Union Northeast.
Originally, he was a machinist, but became a PCA because it wasn't easy to juggle caregiving for his mother-in-law with his full time job.
Bolling said any improvements to caregiver's working conditions must begin with better funding.
"I think the foremost thing would be increasing our budget," said Bolling. "You know, nothing happens in this world without money and you kind of can't take any steps forward or any initiatives towards improving our conditions without first improving our pay, and providing access to benefits."
He added that better funding will be able to provide long-term job security.
Along with PCA's, unpaid family caregivers are facing similar challenges.
According to an AARP report, unpaid family caregivers across the U.S. provided care valued at $600 billion in 2021. That's a $130 billion increase over 2019.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, PCA's - like many of Connecticut's healthcare workers - were dealing with strained working conditions.
During the first few months of the pandemic, there was a shortage of personal protective equipment.
While many healthcare providers have fought for and seen changes in their working conditions, Deidre Murch - vice president and homecare director for SEIU 1199 Northeast - said it hasn't been the same for PCA's.
"What we see is that there are a lot of examples where PCA's have been treated, literally, as invisible," said Murch, "without any of the same recognition or support in wages and benefits as other healthcare providers have."
From here, Murch added that it's now up to state elected officials to take bold steps in uplifting this workforce out of poverty-inducing wages and lacking benefits.
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