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Illinois Caregivers Pushing for Higher Wages Through New Legislation

Illinois AFSCME members were in Springfield to push for the passage of two measures that would increase wages for caregivers.

The workers in Springfield represent caregivers who work and support people in Illinois who are living with developmental disabilities.

Two measures, Senate Bill 1600 and House Bill 3398, would establish reimbursement rates that build toward livable wages for caregivers.

According to AFSCME’s Doug Woodson, the wage increases would go toward issues of hiring more workers.

“Services can not be provided if there is not enough staff to provide them,” Woodson said. “Historically, the state has not done what it takes to meet that obligation. The system of care for people with developmental disabilities is at a breaking point.”

Woodson said studies have shown that these Illinois workers are underpaid.

“Guidehouse found that to adequately staff community agencies so they can provide essential services, agencies would need to pay 115% of the minimum wage,” Woodson said. “AFSCME is in complete agreement with other advocates and SEIU on the need for full implementation of the Guidehouse study.”

The workers are seeking a $4 per hour increase in their wages. However, state Sen. Javier Cervantes, D-Chicago, said, more could be needed.

“They are completely underpaid. When I was a union representative for them back in 2017, folks were barely making ten bucks an hour. It is not fair,” Cervantes said. “A four-dollar increase is a good step in the right direction, but we even need more. I have seen it first hand. I just want to thank you for all the work you do, our most vulnerable population is who you take care of.”

Both measures currently sit with the Assignments Committee. Neither has attracted witness slips in opposition.

Source : Advantage