May 2016

People with Disabilities, Personal Assistants Take Fight Against Rauner’s Overtime Policy to the Streets of Chicago


16 People with Disabilities, Home Healthcare Workers, Advocates Take Arrest in Chicago Protesting Governor Rauner’s Draconian Overtime Policy

(Chicago) – Chaos and confusion around Governor Rauner’s dangerous Overtime Policy for the Home Services Program that was implemented Sunday, May 1, led to impacted people with disabilities, home healthcare workers, and advocates descending on one of Chicago’s DHS offices in the loop on Thursday, May 5, to demand answers and a suspension of the misguided policy.

16 people with disabilities, caregivers, and advocates were met with arrest after blocking Van Buren and Clinton Streets to highlight Governor Bruce Rauner’s continued attack on cost-saving, community-based home services.

Through the Home Services Program, 30,000 people with disabilities are able to live in their own homes with the support of home healthcare workers known as Personal Assistants. New overtime guidelines threaten the health and independence of thousands of people with disabilities in the program, and threaten to drive thousands of Personal Assistants out of the program. 8,600 people with disabilities in the Home Services Program are impacted by the Overtime Policy statewide, in addition to 8,600 Personal Assistants.

In just a few days since the May 1 policy implementation, advocates and SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union representing workers, are already hearing reports of threats of termination to caregivers, potential FLSA violations, and people with disabilities receiving no support from the State in locating new Personal Assistants to take over hours that their current caregivers have been barred from working.

“The overtime guidelines are unrealistic and cruel, and they don’t reflect the realities of people with disabilities who use Personal Assistants in order to live independently in their own homes,” said Mike Ervin, a person with a disability living in Chicago and member of ADAPT. “Rather than save money, the guidelines will drive providers out of the program and taxpayers will be on the hook for people with disabilities forced into nursing homes.”

The Rauner administration and DHS have gone on record over the last week offering varying accounts of what their Overtime Policy really aims to accomplish, and the degree to which their ‘three strikes and you’re out’ approach to discipline will be enforced if a worker or consumer are unable to comply. Governor Rauner has even contended that there would be pension savings from his policy, when in reality Personal Assistants are not extended any pension benefits.

“We’ve all received letters telling us if we work any hours over 40 in a pay period that it will be considered a strike against us, and after three strikes we will lose our jobs – the DHS offices are telling us the same thing,” explained Alantris Muhammad, one of the Personal Assistants who provides over 40 hours of home healthcare services per week for her consumer. “Then we hear the head of DHS go on t.v. and state that overtime hours just have to be justified and that there is no ban. Which one is it? These are people’s lives we’re talking about and if the person I care for hasn’t found a back-up worker to take over some of my hours, am I supposed to just leave her?”

In a letter from DHS that advocates received on Monday, May 2, the State claims to have hired 5,000 additional Personal Assistants who are ready to take over hours, however, standard turnover in the program means approximately 5,000 new Personal Assistants enter the program each month anyways.

People with disabilities, home healthcare workers, and disability advocates vow to continue the fight to support Home Services, a program that saves Illinois money, and promotes the independence of people with disabilities – and will continue to escalate calls for clarity on misstatements from Governor Rauner and DHS officials, suspension of the misguided Overtime Policy, and full funding for the Home Services Program in the FY 2017 budget that includes funding for overtime hours.


See photos from the event here, and press coverage below.

WGN: Home care workers protest over state ban on overtime

Youtube clips of individual broadcasts





WBBM Newsradio:


Univision: Protesta de cuidadores de personas discapacitadas termina en arrestos


Illinois News Connection: Activists: Overtime Pay Cuts Already Harming IL Residents

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Rep. Litesa Wallace: Investing in day care aid is a smart move for Illinois

The State Journal-Register
April 26, 2016

litesa wallace headshotRep. Litesa Wallace: Investing in day care aid is a smart move for Illinois

Today, when I look in the mirror, I see a strong and successful woman — an Illinois state representative with a doctorate from a major university. But not so many years ago, I was a newly single mother with a young son, wondering how I was going to pick up the pieces of my life, complete my education and build a brighter future for our little family.

It wasn’t easy trying to go to school, hold down a couple of part-time jobs and still be a good mother to my son. But I was able to make it all work because I had access to affordable child care that was partially subsidized by the state of Illinois.

Today, as an elected leader, I want to make sure that every parent in Illinois has that same opportunity to get an education and move forward in life. So I have sponsored a new bill, HB 5580, that will expand access to affordable child care for parents who are working low-wage jobs or who are in school or training programs.

Right now, Illinois parents who earn the minimum wage simply can’t afford to pay for good, reliable child care. Paying for day care for a 4-year-old would eat up more than half of a minimum wage worker’s annual income — and care for an infant would cost almost three-fourths of that worker’s paycheck.

Obviously, we can’t expect parents to pay more than half of their income for child care. On minimum wage, it’s a struggle just to keep a roof over your family and food on the table. Yet instead of making it easier for hard-working parents to access reliable day care so they can go to work or go to school, Gov. Bruce Rauner actually slashed Illinois’ child care assistance programs last summer.

It is just cruel to force low-income parents to pull their children away from trusted day care providers. But beyond that, it’s terrible public policy. When parents lose their child care assistance, they often have to quit their jobs. When parents can’t afford care, child care centers close their doors — putting even more people out of work. Between increased unemployment costs and decreased tax receipts, the state of Illinois actually winds up losing money when the governor cuts back on a smart, affordable program that helps to keep families afloat.

My bill will expand Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program to include families that make up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Right now, the cutoff is 162 percent — which means that a single parent who makes more than $2,162 a month makes too much money to qualify for a partial child care subsidy. Under my bill, a parent who makes $4,000 a month will get a break on child care — not a full subsidy, just enough to help make ends meet. By raising the cutoff, we’ll expand this important program to include 75,000 more children, making it possible for their parents to go to work knowing that their children are in good hands.

My bill also will make child care assistance available to 5,000 children whose parents are in school, working toward certificates and degrees that will help them find better jobs in the future.

The state of Illinois made a good investment in my son and me during those tough years when I needed some extra help. Today, I am putting my education to work on behalf of working mothers and fathers in my own district and throughout Illinois. With HB 5580, we can make sure that every mother and father in our state has the same chance I had — to fulfill my potential, achieve my dreams and build a strong future for myself and my child.

— State Rep. Litesa E. Wallace, D-Rockford, represents the 67th District in the Illinois House.

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