Home care workers from across Massachusetts celebrated their new contract victory today with Gov. Charlie Baker. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East members built upon the $15 minimum wage established in their last contract, with regular raises that increase wages to $16.10 in 2021. They also expanded opportunities for training and education—another critical step in addressing the current long term care workforce shortage. Home care workers also negotiated 50 hours of paid time off annually— an unprecedented win in an industry where far too many home care workers must choose between going to work sick or not getting paid.
“I am proud of the gains we’ve made through our union,” says Janice Guzman, one of the 50,000 personal care attendants united in 1199SEIU. “The extra hours of paid time off we won in our contract recognizes that when we work hard we need to take time off, especially when we’re sick. I know we couldn’t have done this on our own, and that’s why I’m fighting so all home care workers can unite together in unions and win higher pay, basic benefits and better training.”
Milka Exantus, a PCA from Dorchester, Mass. and 1199SEIU bargaining team member, also stresses the importance of investing in the people caring for seniors and people with disabilities as a necessary step in stabilizing an industry that many Massachusetts families rely upon.
“We’ll all need someone to take care of us someday,” says Exantus. “That’s why every step we take as home care workers to improve our wages and win basic job protections and training opportunities is a step not just in improving our jobs, but addressing the growing need for quality long term care.”
This contract victory exemplifies why the opportunity to join a union—no matter where a person works—is the best way to raise wages, improve working conditions, create family-sustaining jobs, and begin to fix the rigged economy.
“I know we couldn’t have made these gains in our wages and our paid time off on our own. That’s why I’m fighting for the right for everyone to be part of a union, so everyone, regardless of what we do or where we work, can unite,” said Janice. “The stronger we are, the better we can win strong contracts, which means better care for our consumers.”