FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new bill could improve in-home caregiving throughout California.
Assemblyman Matt Haney of San Francisco proposed AB 1672, which would allow in-home caregivers to negotiate at a State level, instead of a county level.
Wendy Davenport has been the caregiver of Jovanna Martinez for the past three years.
Martinez broke her hip and needs Davenport's help.
She also uses an electric wheelchair, which is why the two spent Monday morning at Ray Fischer Pharmacy & Medical Supplies.
"We're trying to get Jovanna's wheelchair fixed, so that way she can use it. She has problems getting in and out of vehicles, cars, getting in and out of bed. The chair is a big, big tool of hers," Davenport said.
Davenport is one of 19,000 workers part of Fresno County's In-Home Support Services (IHSS).
According to Assemblymember Haney, ongoing problems in the IHSS collective bargaining process with the local counties has left caregivers feeling underpaid for the amount of work they do every day.
Haney, along with the State's caregivers unions, believe AB 1672 is a solution.
"I'm part of the bargaining team myself and dealing with the county, there's limits, and whereas with the State, we have more leeway, more room to wiggle to bargain for better benefits, better wages, better everything," Davenport explained.
Action News spoke to Nathan Magsig, with Fresno County's Board of Supervisors, who called the work of IHSS workers "tremendous," and acknowledged the need for their services.
"This current budget cycle, we've set aside about 35 million hours to be used by IHSS workers. I also know too, that our realignment dollars and about $8.6 million in discretionary revenue go towards that program There's hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent in Fresno County alone to help support the IHSS workers."
Davenport said it's not nearly enough, especially during a time where there's a demand for in-home caregivers but many leave the field or avoid it altogether.
"We want respect. We want to be treated with dignity," she said. "We want to feel like we matter."
Magsig didn't say he was opposed to AB 16-72 passing, but hopes it doesn't hurt the county.
"I would just ask that anything that the State does, if they do choose to negotiate directly with the IHSS workers, that they don't do that and take our local dollars as well," he shared.
Davenport described caregiving as a thankless job, but hopes California lawmakers recognize how valuable caregivers are.
For news updates, follow Amanda Aguilar on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.