Kings County home care providers calling for pay raise

KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- "Time for $20" signs could be seen at the Kings County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning carried by members of Service Employees International Union Local 2015.

Across California, the union represents more than 400,000 nursing homes and home care workers.

Several with the Kings County chapter voiced their hope for an hourly wage increase from $15 to $20 an hour and say it's necessary not only because of the work they do, but the hardships faced amid the pandemic.

"Just keeping up with being able to live every day -- Gas, bills, groceries," says Robert Gutierrez.

Gutierrez has been a home care provider for five years. His passion for helping those who need assistance is why he is fighting for a raise.

Kings County is home to about 2,800 seniors and people with disabilities who receive care from about 2,400 workers with the county's Home Supportive Services Homecare Department.

"Taking care of our elderly, veterans and disabled, it's right and it's something I take pride in doing and many here," he said. "I think it's the right thing to do."

Leonard Farmer has been the home care provider of his brother for more than 12 years.

He's now retired but says before that, would work full-time to afford to provide for his brother.

"We are out there on the line doing this job because they need the help," he said. "More money would help."

Craig Pederson, director of In-Home Supportive Services, says the board heard every voice and understands a lot has happened in the last few years.

"We all respect what they do and the challenges that they have," he said.

He says there have been conversations and is hopeful a new contract can be signed soon.

The board says there have been raises in the past -- the union says they've only been small amounts.

Both sides are hopeful that an open conversation in the next few months will lead to a mutual agreement.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.