Lassen SEIU caregivers share their stories with the community during a Main Street protest Saturday, Oct. 16. The same caregivers will be present on Main Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from they receive a fair contract with Lassen County. Photo submitted

Home care workers ask Lassen residents to sign petition of support

Lassen SEIU caregivers took the cause to Main Street Saturday, Oct. 16 to share their stories with the community. The same caregivers decided to be present on Main Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from they receive a fair contract with Lassen County, according to a statement from Jacob Hibbitts, SEIU organizer.

“We invite all supportive community members to join us in solidarity,” Hibbitts said. “If you see us on the streets of Susanville, you can join us, sign our petition or simply honk for homecare!”

According to Hibbitts’ statement, at this moment, elected officials in Modoc County (often the poorest county in the state) passed an 85-cent wage supplement so that every single one of its In Home Supportive Services providers receive an hourly wage increase of $1.85 by January 2022. The same workers in Lassen County are still waiting after more than five years to receive anything above the bare minimum.

In fact, Lassen County is only one of two counties in the entire state to not sign a contract with its caregivers.

A Lassen County official said negotiations with the union are ongoing, but the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement.

Upon going to the table for negotiations with Modoc County, IHSS providers were directly told that the County Board of Supervisors wanted to show they value their caregivers. Upon going to the table in 2016, Lassen’s providers – the workers who care for your elderly and disabled neighbors and family – were shown the door.

“We ask you to join the same home care workers who, come flood, fire or global pandemic (and to) think first of the ones whom they provide care,” Hibbitts wrote. “You can do so by adding your name to our petition, which is made up of a growing list of neighbors, businesses, current and former union members, as well as religious and non-religious organizations who are asking the cxounty to raise caregivers’ wages.

You can find our petition at Forest Office Supply in Uptown Susanville, at one of our Honk for Homecare rallies, or go to bit.ly/3jq31t4 to sign up your name, business or organization to our list of supporters.”

According to a previous SEIU statement, Lassen County care providers have fought hard for more than five years, while working multiple jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Meanwhile, rather than giving its workers a raise – which was well within their means – Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors decided to pay an expensive fine. That’s correct —  instead of giving frontline essential workers an affordable and well-deserved wage, they sent your tax money to Sacramento. Many of these workers were left with little choice to upend their professional lives to care for a family member and make less than most fast food workers in Lassen County; and far below other healthcare workers.

In fact, the need for more of these workers is only rising, but the number of workers remains stagnant. Without an adequate wage, the disabled and elderly of Lassen County will continue to suffer staffing shortages that are directly detrimental to their health. Support from the community will help us to lift these workers out of poverty.