On Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14, caregivers and people with disabilities held a press conference outside Daley Plaza to call on Governor Bruce Rauner to ‘have a heart’ and release the 48-cent raises that were approved in last summer’s bipartisan budget compromise.
Rauner has refused to release the meager increase to caregivers, who have not seen a raise since December of 2014 and the overwhelming majority of which make only $13 an hour. The $0.48 raise was supposed to have gone into effect on August 5, 2017 per state law:
*P.A. 100-0023, Article 30, Section 30-20:“Within 30 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 100th General Assembly, the hourly wage paid to personal assistants and individual maintenance home health workers [in the DHS Home Services Program] shall be increased by $0.48 per hour”
SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the union representing the 28,000 caregivers affected, filed a class-action lawsuit last year in September, and another hearing on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday.
Iashea Cross has been a Personal Assistant for 7 years now, leaving her job as a reporter to become her sister’s full-time caregiver.
“The 48-cent raise that Bruce Rauner is refusing to pay us would not solve all of my problems, however, it would mean that I could breathe a little easier at night. I wouldn’t be so stressed and constantly worrying about how I’m going to buy groceries,” explained Ms. Cross. “No one who gets into this work does it looking to get rich. We are talking about putting food on the table, buying the medicine we need – just the basic necessities.”
Cardean Jenkins, another PA from the Chicago area added, “It’s time for Governor Rauner to do the right thing. Show us you have a heart, Governor. Stop wasting everyone’s time and taxpayer money on these legal battles and just follow the law and pay our raise!”
Later Wednesday, Rauner released his FY 2019 proposed budget, in which he plans to eliminate the raise workers won AND end the health insurance that thousands of caregivers rely on.