People with disabilities and their caregivers rallied at the Thompson Center in Chicago Thursday afternoon to denounce Governor Rauner’s punitive DHS overtime policy, which includes a ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out” approach to violations that could suspend hundreds of caregivers (effectively terminating them), as Illinoisans head into the holiday season.
“Right before the holidays, Bruce Rauner is preparing to suspend the lifeline that people with disabilities count on so they can live independently in their homes,” said Coston Plummer, a personal assistant in the Home Care Services program. “Any day now, hundreds of PA’s could receive suspensions from the state under the DHS overtime policy. The question is ‘why’. Because they refuse to abandon the people they serve.”
Caregivers, already at or near poverty, face an agonizing dilemma under the policy: comply and abandon the consumer in their care; continue to work the hours in their consumer’s care plan and face suspension; or continue to work above the overtime cap but not submit their hours for pay to avoid penalties under the policy.
“It’s not fair. Personal assistants are already the lowest paid state workers, and now the governor is capping our hours,” said Cardean Jenkins, a personal assistant. “And he’s withholding our raises that we won in the state budget also. This policy has been confusing from the beginning, and no one in the DORS office seems to have any answers to my questions.”
“I’m disabled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Ayo Maat, ADAPT Chicago member and consumer in the Home Services Program. “We should not have such a bad policy…My PA’s are quitting because they can’t pay their rent, cannot live as decent human beings, and cannot get the healthcare they need for themselves and their families. We have to stand together.”