Win for Consumers and Workers Amid Ongoing Struggle; Back Pay Ordered
SPRINGFIELD-An administrative law judge has ruled that the Rauner administration violated state labor law when last year it unilaterally imposed limits on overtime care in a state program to provide home healthcare for people with disabilities.
The Sept. 5 ruling found that the administration illegally implemented a cap on overtime hours of home care workers without first bargaining with SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union for some 28,000 workers in the Home Services Program (HSP) who care for thousands of people with disabilities. The judge also ordered back pay for these workers, subject to a process administered by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, writing that, “…the overtime policy is a mandatory subject of bargaining and the (s)tate violated the (a)ct when it implemented the same without first bargaining…”
The judge further found that the Rauner administration acted illegally when it proceeded to implement its overtime-cap policy via the administrative rulemaking process, instead of bargaining with the home care workers’ union.
The Administrative Law Judge’s decision remains open to appeal to the full Illinois Labor Relations Board.
Following is the statement of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Terri Harkin:
“The harm caused by the Rauner Administration’s overtime policy is continuing as consumers are not receiving the hours of care they need and providers are being disciplined for doing nothing more than helping to protect the health and safety of the people for whom they care. We call on the Rauner Administration to follow the judge’s ruling and immediately rescind its illegal policy.
“The ruling is an opportunity for the Rauner administration to abandon both an overtime policy that is harming workers and consumers in the vastly-successful Home Services Program and the “my-way-or-the-highway” posture that is harming taxpayers along with them.
“The go-it-alone ways of the Rauner administration, found to be in violation of state law, are part of a pattern of excluding longtime stakeholders in a program that has saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars and kept countless Illinoisans in their homes, instead of costlier nursing facilities.
”Whether it is denying these same home care providers a 48-cent raise mandated by the General Assembly, illegally implementing an overtime policy denying care to thousands, or refusing to work in good faith with home care consumers and groups representing people with disabilities, the administration shows itself more interested in a piece-by-piece dismantling of a vital program for Illinoisans seeking independence than with working with stakeholders to build on a successful system of care that already saves Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“It doesn’t have to be like this.
“Going forward, we encourage the state to work with us to discuss what would be a sensible overtime policy that respects the care for people who deserve to retain their independence and remain in their homes with dignity and respects the work of the providers who provide that care.”
Read a copy of the judge’s ruling here.