Local 100 Member Earline Houston and her client.
Photo by Lawrence Kuzniewski.
Personal Care Aides are home care workers who care for elderly people in their homes. They are under contract with the State Health Department, and since 1999 have won change through strength in numbers.
Until Personal Care Aides organized, the only raises they got were minimum wage increases and a dime a year. Starting salaries were $5.15 per hour. At that rate, those who worked for 19 years only made $7.25 an hour.
In 1999, Personal Care Aides joined Local 100. They held Speak Outs with legislators to describe what it was like to live on such little money and got a written commitment from many state legislators to work with us. When the 2000 legislative session began, Personal Care Aides came from across Arkansas to march together up the steps of the capital to press for a raise. One hundred PCAs and allies were on TV with friendly legislators who agreed that they'd work with us to win an increase in pay. As a result of these numbers, the starting salary went from $5.15 to $5.60; those with 19 years went from $7.25 to $9.20 per hour. Most PCAs saw a 17 to 27 percent increase.
When the 2001 session began, Personal Care Aides came from across the
state to rally in support of a raise. In March, 250 people, including
many Personal Care Aides from across Arkansas, marched down Markham Street
in Little Rock in support of living wages. Representative Joyce Elliot
spoke about the need for raises for PCAs and state employees. Although
the Health Department was running a $7 million deficit, PCAs won a 15
cent per hour raise.
When Local 100 met with the Governor about AAISIS in his office, Local
100 member Redonia Harshaw told him about the problems Personal Care Aides
who chose not to have their checks were having getting paid. She spoke
about the PCAs in Yell County, many of whom waited 10 days for checks.
We asked that instead of mailing them, that the state again deliver checks
on pay day to the Health Units. On the pay day after our meeting, the
state did deliver checks to PCAs at work, rather than mailing them.
Many Personal Care Aides need health insurance coverage. In 2000, Local 100 members collected hundreds of petition signatures in support of establishing an ARKids First-type program for adults. ARKids is a Medicaid program, using state funds to leverage federal dollars. Other states have established health insurance programs for adults using state funds (frequently tobacco settlement money) to provide the state match.
Our members, together with ACORN members, pulled together to push the state to use the tobacco settlement money as the state match to expand coverage to adults up to 200% of the poverty level. We had a good deal of support for using a much larger amount of the tobacco settlement for this from the legislators -- but not enough to win. The Governor's CHART plan set aside only enough, by DHS estimates, to provide coverage for people up to 127% of the Federal Poverty level. The Governor has established a committee of diverse business, medical and consumer representatives (including Local 100) to recommend how to expand health insurance coverage in Arkansas.
Personal Care Aides met with state legislators John Fitch, Mike Hathorne, and Jo Carson about the need for affordable health insurance coverage and prescription drugs for working Arkansans.
If you are one of the 75,000 Arkansans without insurance and you want
to be involved in the campaign to win funding for an ARKids First-type
program for adults, call us at (501) 376-0255, or send us an e-mail by
Did you know that the drug companies offer free medicine for low and moderate income people? Local 100 SEIU and ACORN have pulled together to work for fairness in the Arkansas Health Care system.
Click here to download a form that you can fill out and send to us.
© 2002 SEIU Local 100
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