CHICAGO-Following is the joint statement of Access Living, IMPACT Center for Independent Living, Northwestern Illinois Center for Independent Living, Living Independently Now Center of Southern Illinois, Opportunities for Access, Illinois Iowa Center for Independent Living, and SEIU Healthcare Illinois in response to the effort Thursday of Rauner administration negotiators to use federal overtime rules for home healthcare workers as a way to extract a 4-year wage freeze for Personal Assistants, already some of the lowest-paid state workers, who care for people with disabilities.
Draconian new limits to overtime hours for home healthcare workers, which only allow a very small percentage of people with disabilities to approve overtime, are set to go into effect May 1st. The Rauner administration is also holding expanded flexibility for people with disabilities hostage to its demand for a wage freeze.
“The Rauner administration’s use of new federal overtime rules for caregivers to extract a four-year wage freeze from this low-paid workforce is a cruel bait-and-switch that will further destabilize the system of care for people with disabilities, will cost taxpayers more in the long run, and will set Illinois on a path backward.
“Driving down the pay for home healthcare workers makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to find quality care and will lead to an even higher rate of turnover. This, in turn, will drive more caregivers of seniors and people with disabilities on to public assistance; will drive more seniors and people with disabilities into costlier nursing facilities; and will encumber the state of Illinois with more administrative costs.
“And then there is the moral cost: We cannot believe that the people of Illinois would want the governor to use rules meant to add dignity to caregivers as a way to play hardball with people with disabilities. We call on the governor to suspend the May 1st implementation of the rules, to end his attack on the caregiving workforce and to stop shredding the system of home healthcare that keeps so many seniors and people with disabilities in their communities with dignity.”