Healthcare workers push higher wages in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- There are 15,000 in-home supportive service workers in Fresno County, keeping 15 to 20,000 elderly and disabled out of nursing homes.

It saves the government millions, but they are paid only minimum wage, and they are fighting for more.

A group of home health workers staged a noisy demonstration inside the Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting.

They are getting loud because they are frustrated. They are paid minimum wage 10.50 an hour and have not had a raise in 8 years. Maria Xiquin is their union representative and says their jobs are not properly appreciated.

Xiquin said, "We are asking the Fresno Board of Supervisors to give increases to our IHSS providers, right now it's been 8 years since they've given them any increase. We came to the table and they offered zero."

The SEIU and the county have been stalemated in negotiations. The county is also at odds with the state over the counties obligations.

A recent UC Berkeley study shows home health care saves the government money, but notes low pay and high turnover among to those health workers ends up putting more elderly in nursing homes.

"Our elderly, thank god are living longer, and need this care but if this is not funded then a lot of people are going to go without care."

The home health workers also demonstrated outside the county offices, and say more protests like this will continue until a reasonable deal is reached.

"The workers here they take care of the elderly, they take care of handicapped they take care of blind."

County officials are not commenting because negotiations with the home health workers are ongoing.
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