Illinois continues to be at the center of an arduous battle between unions, representatives, and the governor over pay and overtime protections for home health care workers. Last Friday, August 18, 2017, Governor Rauner vetoed a number of bills late in the day, and one of those bills was aimed at allowing home health care workers to work up to 15 hours of overtime per week.
Supporters of the legislation claim that this bill would have allowed those in need of support to have consistent and adequate care when they need it most, but the Governor stated that they are already eligible for up to five hours of overtime, without approval, and that this measure would have only contributed to overworking already stressed out caregivers.
According to the Chicago Tribune article, Rauner vetoes bills on spending transparency, home health care worker OT, written by Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger:
“The bill that Rauner vetoed Friday would have allowed in-home care providers to work at least 15 hours of overtime per week. In his veto message, Rauner noted that his administration’s new policy allows for up to five hours of overtime without the need for approval. The policy, he said in his veto message, “safeguards individual providers from being unnecessarily overworked and ensures that residents requiring long hours of care will have more than one person who understands their needs and who is capable of caring for them.”
What is often ignored, though, with reporting on this topic, as is the case in the Chicago Tribune article, is the fact that a large percentage of these ‘workers’ are family members providing care to disabled or elderly individuals. The SEIU (Service Employees International Union) successfully supported legislation that legitimized their ability to represent home care aides and other workers.
A lawsuit against this managed to temper forced union dues while still providing the same protections to these workers who didn’t wish to join the union. Illinois has remained a battleground over home care workers’ rights, pay, and other topics, and this is one more skirmish in this long-running fight.
There are thousands of home care providers working for agencies and there are many who offer in-home care to family. It appears that this battle for increased wages and overtime options isn’t going to end soon, but one of the main focal points is about where the money would come from to pay for these increased wages. The state is in debt and continues to run on a deficit and without these topics being hashed out, any further legislation may be moot if the state can’t pay the bill.
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