28,000 Caregivers Vindicated: Court Rules Rauner Illegally Withheld $.48 Raise from Those Caring for People with Disabilities

Chicago – Late yesterday, tens of thousands of Illinois caregivers for people with disabilities received the good news they’ve waited seven months for: Governor Rauner’s move to withhold a $.48 raise that the General Assembly approved in last summer’s budget deal was illegal.

Rauner had refused to release the increase to Personal Assistants, who have not seen a raise since December of 2014 with the overwhelming majority earning only $13 an hour. The $.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”

The Cook County Circuit Court’s ruling orders that the State implement the $.48 raise for all hours worked since August 5, 2017 by March 21, 2018.

Personal Assistants in the Home Services Program provide vital home care services for more than 30,000 Illinoisans with disabilities, enabling them to live at home with dignity and independence. This work saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year by avoiding costly nursing home care.

Alberta Walker, Personal Assistant and SEIU Healthcare Illinois Executive Board Chair released the following statement in response to the Court’s ruling:

“This decision reinforced what we have said from day one – Bruce Rauner’s choice to withhold these raises for 28,000 low-income caregivers was not only cruel, it was illegal.

“The work we do as Personal Assistants is difficult, and it is even harder when you are living in poverty doing it. Too many skilled, reliable caregivers are forced out of the home care industry due to this reality. The General Assembly’s approval of this $.48 increase recognized those two facts and were aimed at stabilizing the workforce and reducing turnover.

“We are relieved and grateful for the Court’s decision, but continue to question why Governor Rauner would waste taxpayer resources on a quest to deny a meager raise to caregivers who selflessly provide life-line services to Illinoisans living with disabilities in every county of our state.” 

State Representative Greg Harris added:

“I am thrilled for the workers who care for our most vulnerable people with disabilities. The court did the right thing in siding for the caregivers and against Rauner in another of his ploys to drive down wages for working people.”

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