Caregivers Risk Bankruptcy, Losing Homes in “Irreparable Harm” From “Draconian” Policy Already Found Illegal*
CHICAGO – The worst is coming to pass as the Rauner administration’s cuts to overtime hours of care for thousands of Illinoisans with disabilities, already found to be illegal in September, are causing “irreparable harm” to low-wage caregivers and must be halted immediately.
That’s the substance contained in a request for an injunction filed Wednesday, Oct. 25, to the Illinois Labor Relations Board by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, which represents the 28,000 workers affected.
Read the request HERE.
The overtime cuts, capping care hours a caregiver can provide at 45 per week, were rolled out in haphazard and tumultuous fashion and went into effect Aug. 1, with the Rauner administration sending the first “three-strikes-and-you’re out” penalties to caregivers and consumers in the Home Services Program just a month later.
The filing shows that, just as was expressly feared in the outrageous rollout of the policy, because of the lost hours and the penalty of suspension and termination, workers are facing homelessness and people with disabilities could be ripped from their homes and forced into much costlier nursing institutions:
“Here, it is indisputable that the (Rauner administration’s) unilateral implementation of its overtime policy is causing injury to (caregivers)….These near-poverty wage workers face the threat of not being able to make mortgage payments, putting their homes at risk…”
At least hundreds of caregivers are already at imminent risk of three-month-long suspensions under the Rauner administration’s three-strikes policy.
“Three months without income is a draconian penalty for these low-wage workers. No one could expect a $13 per hour worker to have the savings to live without income for three months.”
Read the affidavit of an Oak Lawn caregiver, whose 37-year-old son with severe disabilities could be forced into a nursing home because of the policy, here.
Read the affidavit of a Chicago personal assistant who is facing homelessness because of the policy here.
Read the original ruling from an administrative law judge that the Rauner administration policy is unlawful here.
Terri Harkin, SEIU Healthcare Illinois vice president for home care, said of this week’s filing:
“The Rauner administration refused to listen to the fears of caregivers and Illinoisans with disabilities alike as it foisted its illegal policy on Illinois. Now we see the worst is coming to pass, just as was predicted by stakeholders who have been deliberately ignored. This policy must stop immediately. If the Rauner administration won’t do it, we hope the Labor Board and courts will.”
* Personal Assistant and affiant Bob Eli is available for comment from his home in Chicago.