Friday, September 28, 2012

Humboldt County's Great Shame

Eureka, California - After months of efforts to bargain a historic first wage increase for County IHSS Caregivers, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (acting as the Governing Board of the IHSS Public Authority) rejected a Fact Finder’s recommendation to increase wages for over 1,400 County IHSS homecare workers. The Fact Finder understood the urgency and growing health care crisis facing the residents of Humboldt County. The Fact Finder referred to his ruling as “fair and equitable,” stating that the reasons for his ruling were “numerous.”

“This is beyond shameful, it is offensive and says more about their commitment to turn their backs on our County’s most vulnerable and the Caregivers who change adult diapers,” said County IHSS Caregiver Antoinette Skiles when she learned of the Supervisor’s response to the Fact Finding Report. “We use money out of our own pockets to care for people who would most likely be in nursing homes without us. We love the people we care for and that’s why we do it. But we shouldn’t be punished because we have a heart,” she added.

In his ruling, the Fact Finder emphasized that, “The County clearly has the ability to pay the modest increases sought,” and that the homecare workforce, which is comprised primarily of women and minorities, is paid significantly less than every other County employee. Many facts included in the Fact Finding Report, such as the Supervisor’s willingness to increase their own salaries while homecare wages remained stagnant over the years, were accentuated by a recommendation that stated, “When it came to the issue of wages and healthcare benefits for care providers, the Union makes the more compelling case.”

The two day Fact Finding Hearing covered an exhaustive amount of data and testimony from County Caregivers, recipients and university professors Eileen Boris and Candace Howes. Both Boris and Howes are national experts on long-term care whose efforts have been used to influence national, state and County long-term care legislation. After reviewing documents and testimony from the County and CUHW, the Fact Finder awarded his decision: Humboldt County IHSS Caregivers deserved better.

Last Tuesday the Board of Supervisors met in closed session to discuss the Fact Finding Report, ultimately not only refusing to implement the report’s recommendation but also attempting to discredit the Fact Finder in the process. In an official statement released on behalf of the County IHSS Public Authority the County claimed that the Fact Finder “misunderstood” important concepts during the hearing. In that same official statement, the County repeated that its refusal to grant a wage increase to County IHSS Caregivers was, “due to the County’s finances,” this despite admitting during the Fact Finding hearing that it in fact had budgeted enough to provide the requested wage increase.

The Supervisor’s recent rejection of the Fact Finder’s recommendation follows their rejection of a mediated settlement proposal last July that also called for a wage increase for County IHSS Caregivers. CUHW has filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the County and will continue its efforts to work with the residents of Humboldt County to achieve justice for its most vulnerable populations and those who care for them.

Call the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (707.476.2396) today and tell them: The facts don’t lie. Implement the IHSS Fact Finder’s Recommendations and be fair to those who care. End the shame of minimum wage:

View the Fact Finder’s entire Report and Recommendation at:

View the Board of Supervisors press release at:

Loretta Stevens
Executive Director

California United Homecare Workers
AFSCME/SEIU Local 4034
2484 Natomas Park Drive #101
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 239-3988 office



  1. All the Board of Supervisors are doing is ensuring the elderly will have to be committed into assisted living operations where they have to turn over their most precious asset, their homes, to the County of Humboldt.

    What other special interest other than the County of Humboldt's Public Guardian Office would have influenced the Supervisors' egregious action.

  2. Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers”.

    What is it about that statement people dont get?

    When my pop got Alzheimers, it took $350 a DAY to provide care for him. Guess the Supervisors dont have to worry about such things?

  3. In terms of healthcare delivery across the board in our country, forget equality except when you're six feet under. I've worked twice in my life in healthcare, once in the stone age as a hospital admitting porter and once as an in-home caregiver. In normal American healthcare tragedy the old man I took care of was at one time quite wealthy but one accident took it all away as healthcare providers ate up his life savings and he ended up needing the same services provided by our underpaid, under appreciated healthcare providers working at $8.00 (some lucky ones like me supplemented to $10/hr) but still, compared with nurses and doctors salaries are so outrageously out of proportion as to be laughable except it isn't a laughing matter. People do not realize that without healthcare providers turning sheets, cleaning bed sores, helping in the bathroom, fixing meals, taking patients for walks, sick and old people will die. Bottom line, bed sores alone if untreated by bed turnings and medication can kill an old person. In short, in-home care providers are as necessary for health recovery and maintenance as any doctor so why do we treat in-home caregivers like doo-doo when it comes to financial compensation for their critical work?

    Same reason wives aren't paid for their critical work. Males running things don't recognize women's work, un-degreed nurses work, as worthy of male pay scales. Doctors are recognized as critical providers and so can demand gigantic salaries but not so your in-home caregiver without whose work many patients would never survive. Btw, I have to put in my perennial bitch about the fact I cannot post my own personal caregiver experience and opinions on Heraldo because of Mitch censoring me for my anti-Zionist, anti-Prog politics.


    Check the above link for more on this at the Humboldt Herald.

  5. Stephen, we may not always see eye to eye on everything but on many subjects you speak from first hand knowledge. Yeah, I'm actually a prog but don't take it personally when criticized for being one. I will wear that and own it. As far as Anti Zionist stuff goes, I still don't know enough to take on the Zionists but from what I know, speaking out about their actions should be allowed. They certainly do enough speaking out in words, money and power against much of the rest of the world.

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