DORS Overtime Policy Updates
On August 1, despite outcry from people with disabilities, caregivers, and advocates, the State moved forward with implementation of their flawed overtime policy. This harmful policy caps hours at 45 hours per week for Personal Assistants and takes consumer choice away by forcing people with disabilities to hire additional caregivers so the state doesn’t have to pay us overtime. There are some exceptions to the policy and we encourage everyone with a consumer who is impacted to apply for an exception right away.
Because Personal Assistants are in our union, it is illegal for the state to implement this policy without bargaining with us. We filed charges against the State with the labor board and in September, an administrative law judge ruled in our favor – stating that the Rauner administration violated state labor law by implementing their overtime cap without bargaining with our union.
The Rauner administration appealed that judge’s decision to the full labor board though and now we are awaiting a decision from them. We know that Rauner has stacked the labor board with people who aren’t friendly towards workers, but we are confident that legally we are in the right and hope that we get a positive decision soon.
In addition to awaiting that decision, we are also still pushing for an emergency injunction that would halt the policy due to the harm it is causing and because there are PAs who could receive their third disciplinary occurrences any day now, which would result in a three-month suspension. There have been 1200 first occurrences sent out and 200 second occurrences to our knowledge.
Those who have received an occurrence – if you have not already done so, please call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348 to report it. We have filed a class action grievance against the State regarding these occurrences. Another important piece of information that we’ve heard from a few PAs is that the State revoked their occurrences when their consumers filed appeals regarding the State denying their Exception Request.
We don’t have anything official from the state that says PAs can work all their normal hours while their consumer applies for or appeals an exception decision, but hearing that the State did this for multiple PAs who reported back to the union seems like another good reason for every consumer impacted by this policy to apply for an exception.
As we continue to fight the overtime policy through the legal process, we are also keeping up the pressure publicly.
We have an action planned for Thursday, December 7, in Chicago at 12:30 p.m. with our allies in the disability community at the Thompson Center and we are asking everyone who can join us to be there and make our voices heard against this terrible policy. Call the MRC at 866-933-7348 to RSVP.
Update on Our $.48 Raises
State lawmakers passed a budget that specifically included raises for Personal Assistants in July, but the governor is going out of his way to deny us what legally is ours. This man is a billionaire and he’s denying the lowest paid state workers a $.48 raise. PAs have not received a raise since December 2014!
It shows that Rauner will stop at nothing to attack Personal Assistants and the Home Services Program. We all know that when workers can’t survive off the wages they earn, they’re forced to leave the home care industry to find other work. That hurts people with disabilities.
The raise was supposed to take effect on August 5, 2017 and we filed a class-action lawsuit that demands that our raises be implemented and that every PA get their back pay for hours worked since August 5. We are still awaiting on a decision from the courts, but we are confident we will win. It’s so disappointing that the governor is playing these games when all he has to do is follow the law, do the right thing, and give PAs their raise!
Our bargaining team is continuing to show a strong, united front in negotiations and we show up each session ready to make progress. Unfortunately, Governor Rauner clearly has no interest in reaching a fair agreement with us.
We’ve been bargaining since 2015 and all we’ve heard from Rauner is that he wants to take us backward – eliminate our health care and training, weaken our union rights, and implement a wage freeze!
We have fought so hard over the last thirty years to get where we are today and we cannot let one man get in the way of our progress.
At the table, we continue to fight for our top priorities:
- To protect our health insurance,
- Protect our training program,
- Get the old pay dates restored, and
- To win $15/hour so we can support our families and keep doing this important work.
Over time, Rauner has backed off on eliminating healthcare and training, but still refuses to restore the pay dates and still wants a wage freeze. It is important to note that while we bargain, PAs are covered by our old contract still and maintain the rights and protections we’ve always had.
Over the last two and half years, we have seen time and time again, if we want to move forward, we have to elect a new governor who stands with home care workers, people with disabilities, and seniors.
The results of the gubernatorial election in 2018 will decide the future of home care in Illinois. We have two paths to choose between: Illinois can re-elect Gov. Rauner and we may never win a new contract, the attacks on home care will continue and escalate, and Rauner will feel emboldened to go after unions and workers’ rights even more than he does now. Or, we can reject all that Bruce Rauner stands for and fire him in 2018 and replace him with someone who will understand that the job of the governor is to represent ALL ILLINOISANS, not just the wealthy 1%.
While we don’t know who the democratic nominee will be yet, any of the candidates running right now are committed to investing in and valuing home care services, caregivers, and the people we serve. Those are the kind of people we need in charge of our state.
Like all politicians, we will still have the hold them accountable once elected, but the stakes are too high to not take action. It’s up to us as union members and as caregivers to do everything we can to make sure our friends, families, and neighbors get out to the polls in 2018 and send Bruce Rauner packing.
If you have further questions about any of these updates, feel free to call our Member Resource Center at 866-933-7348.