Home > Uncategorized > Connecticut has moved ahead of Massachusetts on direct-care worker wages

Connecticut has moved ahead of Massachusetts on direct-care worker wages

It apparently took the threat of a major strike, but the Connecticut Legislature passed a bill and the Connecticut governor signed it earlier this year to raise the minimum wage of direct-care workers in that state’s Department of Developmental Services system to $14.75 an hour, starting January 1.

A similar effort fell short last year in Massachusetts when a budget amendment to raise direct-care wages to $15 was killed in a budget conference committee in the Massachusetts Legislature.

While Governor Charlie Baker signed separate legislation in June to raise the minimum wage across the board in Massachusetts to $15, that wage level won’t actually be reached until 2023. The minimum wage will rise to only $12 next year, whereas it will be close to $15 in Connecticut for human services workers as of January 1.

It seems that even though legislators and the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut are equally as tolerant of runaway privatization as they are here in Massachusetts, the Connecticut Legislature and governor have shown a greater recognition that increased privatization has resulted in low wages for direct care human service workers, and that low wages have had a negative impact on services.

In May, after the Connecticut Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of setting the minimum direct-care wage at $14.75, Malloy made a statement that we have yet to hear Governor Baker make:

“For far too long,” Malloy said, “the people who provide care to our most vulnerable neighbors have been underpaid for their critical work.”

In fairness to Baker, Malloy made that statement only after 2,400 employees of nine corporate provider agencies in Connecticut voted in April to authorize a strike that was set to begin in early May. The workers in Connecticut are represented by the SEIU 1199 New England union.

Clearly hoping to avert that strike, the Malloy administration proposed raising the minimum wage for human services workers to $14.75 an hour and providing a five-percent raise for workers earning more than $14.75 an hour effective January 1.

The Malloy administration’s proposal, which was endorsed by the SEIU union and ultimately signed into law, applies to 19,000 union and non-union caregivers that staff some 170 group homes and other nonprofit agencies that receive Medicaid funding in Connecticut, according to The Connecticut Mirror.

As Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney noted:

The work (those caregivers) do is among the most important in our state in terms of humanity.  If we are to consider ourselves a humane and caring society, at long last we should begin at least to recognize the value of that work.

In Massachusetts, SEIU Local 509 helped organize a five-day strike  for a living wage in July at CLASS, Inc., a DDS-funded day program provider based in Lawrence. The workers there were getting paid about $13 an hour and wanted a $1 increase. The company was offering an increase of only 40 cents.

The president of CLASS, meanwhile, was making about $187,500 a year, according to the state’s online UFR database.

In July, workers at CLASS, Inc. reached a settlement with management to raise the workers’ wages by 60 cents an hour. That would still leave the average worker there well below what direct-care workers will be earning in Connecticut.

The Massachusetts strike, moreover, didn’t have the impact on legislators and other policy makers here that the threat of the Connecticut strike apparently did in that state. Thus far, it isn’t apparent that there is any political will in Massachusetts to raise the minimum wage of direct-care workers to Connecticut’s level.

That is concerning because five years is a long time to wait for the minimum wage for direct-care workers to reach $15. Due to inflation alone, that $15 will be worth less to Massachusetts workers in 2023 than it would be if they were to receive it starting this January.

 

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  1. Anonymous
    September 18, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    This article is important because the only thing that matters is humans.

    The minimum wage in CT is very different from the Cost of Living wage – and in New Haven County a family of two adults and two children need $92,532 annually or $7,711 per month to live comfortably (“The Bethel Patch, Tuesday, September 18, 2018).

    How can Direct Care Workers live on $14.75 an hour starting in January?

    They can’t.

    So, how does a salary like $14.75 translate to the best care possible for humans who can’t care for themselves?

    The competition in CT for attracting, hiring and maintaining Direct Care workers is Target, Walmart and other big box store companies.

    The idea of sourcing for Direct Care workers from a pool of workers who might possibly make $15/hr. at Target, Walmart and other big box stores is ignoring the fact that, again, the only thing that matters is humans.

    Thank you.

    L. Mathews
    New Haven, CT

  2. Anonymous
    September 18, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    I find it deplorable that our PRESIDENTS, CONGRESSMEN, SENATORS, State REPS, MAYORS AND GOVERNORS think so little of “other people’s” sons and daughters who were unfortunately born I/DD disadvantaged. In America, we do not value all human lives. We value success, we value wealth, we value a good fight, we value an opinion, we value talk, we value “doing as little as possible for IDD, (unless, of course, we are a doctor, lawyer, influential person, social star, president, congressman, senator, state rep, mayor or governor)”. My adult child was neglected, languished, regressed and regressed more, in the “least restrictive” environment, run by a Corporate Agency (Privatization) and funded by DDS . . . FOR OVER 20 YEARS. That is a prison sentence for IDDs and their families.

    Thankfully my adult child is now in excellent hands because of longevity of caring staff, home like environment, meals on time every day, (and no Day-Hab, WHERE they forced my child to work (severe IDD, non-verbal) by having a 1:1 staff doing the work.) Then, when that failed, expected my child to spend hours on a treadmill daily, until pulling out the plug was the only thing imaginable. Hooray.

    My adult child spent more time in ER than anyone needs to. Over 45 admissions in the first 10 years, and additional ER admissions in the latter 10 years.
    Our adult children are subjected to programs with no benefit to them; and Corporate Agencies turned their backs on their need for a Sustainable Daily Structured Routine, so badly needed throughout the 24 hour period daily. Surely taking a client to get gas is not an outing of any value to them, unless of course, they can drive.

    Of course, our government, who we elect to represent us (the American people) care more about Corporate America and little about our Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled adult children. WHY IS THAT? Should we not be on equal footings?

    And DDS has been ordered by OUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS to CLOSE all Developmental Centers (Institutions) in my state. I understand some states have no more Institutions. WOW!

    I do wonder why I continue to pay taxes to a government who does not work for us, when we vote to put them in a good paying, influential job to represent the people . . . It has now been 30 years since we began to empty institutions, and for the right reasons. Surely it is no longer the right reason!. It does seem that once DDS got started, they do not know how to “advocate for a STOP order”. Perhaps the 30 year cycle will turn around again sooooon. Let us pray it does.

    CT, if you truly want to be a leader, know the truth about Corporate vendor executives.
    Pull their corporate tax records for the past 5 years. It will be shocking.
    Check out their hours, their salaries, their perks, their status, their interest or lack thereof, in being a caretaker, paid by DDS. Raising the hourly wage is a pebble step in the right direction. I doubt it will stop the rotating door that exists for hands-on staffers, which means our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, niece and nephews suffer the sudden loss of their favorite staff on a constant basis. They also suffer, on a regular basis, the indignity of having someone NEW help them take a shower, bath and personal care, on a rotating basis.

    I am all done serving, helping, hoping, believing, pleading, crying, begging and being ignored and lied to.

    We parents need to join in support of one another and assemble a united front to STOP what is happening across America. We can do it. We must do it.

    Joyce-L. A. R. L.
    From North-East USA

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