In-Home Support Services workers and union representatives aren’t making enough money to cover gas for some shifts, workers are saying.
A line of IHSS workers and representatives, dressed mostly in matching purple shirts, opened up the more-than-eight-hour-long county Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, May 17, speaking during open public comment for items not on the agenda. Chairperson Dan Frasier asked that comments related to IHSS funding be held when it was scheduled in the agenda for closed session discussion, but later relented, allowing for comment on the item to come before its place — which was last on the agenda — but after public comment for items not on the agenda.
The workers and bargaining representatives were appealing to the board before the closed session item, hoping to convince the county for a little more money which would be amplified nearly five-times over if allocated.
According to Marcus McRae-Alexander, regional director for SEIU Local 2015 — the name of IHSS’s union — any county funds that go into the IHSS budget are hugely amplified by federal and state government funds.
SEIU shared their Economic Impact Report for Trinity County with The Journal, showing that the bargaining unit is requesting the county raise its offer of allocating nearly $24,000 to nearly $34,000. In doing so, the amount received from the state and federal government would increase by nearly $50,000, from $116,000 to $165,000, a large return on an extra $10,000 investment.
One IHSS worker spoke, saying she had to take up a second job on top of care-giving, and said without help there may not be many care-providers left in the future.
Bargaining negotiator for SEIU Local 2015, Clayton Rapoza, then spoke, explaining further the need for more IHSS funding in Trinity County.
“We understand that Trinity County is not rolling in money, so we’re not asking for a whole bunch,” Rapoza said, “you’ve got an offer currently on the table, and we’re here today just to ask for just a little bit more.”
“Inflation, gas, all that kind of stuff is just going through the roof,” Rapoza said, “and in particular, Trinity County has some really rural clients and they’re really far out, and folks just can’t afford to get to them.”
“Right now that’s leading to a high number of hours that are authorized for care that aren’t being filled because nobody will go work them,” Rapoza said.
“It’s just not worth the money to drive an hour out and an hour back… your first hours of working are just eaten up in gas,” he said.
Other public commenters not affiliated with IHSS spoke up in favor of the program, bringing up points such as IHSS funding saves the county money several-fold in places like emergency room visits and ambulance rides — where only one ride can cost as much as weeks of an IHSS worker’s pay — and reiterating the need for senior care in remote areas of the county.
The item was then seen in closed session. The only report from the county to come from the closed session was that direction was given to staff. SEIU Local 2015 said they have yet to hear anything further from the county.